More talk about our carbon footprint, our global inequalities, our technologies.and their impact on the planet.
Anthropocene: Age of Man - Pictures, More From National Geographic magazine
About 50 years ago. Wayne Davis came up with the concept "Indian Equivalents" (IEs) to show how the use of resources in behalf of the wealthy was impacting the planet far more seriously than was the "population explosion." He calculated that the "average" American required 35 times more non-renewable resources than the "average" Indian; thus instead of saying that India had a population of 1 billion people and the United States had a population of 165 million people, we should say the India had a population of 1 billion IEs and the United States had a population of 5.8 billion IEs. The idea never caught on. I know of no one other than myself who made frequent use of the concept.
But now Geologists are using a similar idea: Human Impact on the planet equals Population times Affluence times Technology, using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of Affluence and Patent Applications as a measure of Technology. During the last sixty years, patent applications have been increasing at 3 times the rate of population growth and GDP has grown at 6 times the rate of population growth.
The impact of human beings on the planet because of population growth, technology and affluence has been 18 times greater (at least) than the effect of population growth alone. Affluence is at least 6 times more important than population. It is easier to stop babies than to stop greed, but less greed would have a far stronger positive effect on the environment than fewer babies,