Jared Diamond, the author of the two very interesting books "Guns, Germs and Steel" and, more recently, "Collapse", has an interesting column in yesterday's New York Times. By his estimation, individuals in the developed world (about 1 billion people) consume resources about 32 times faster than those in the developed world (about 5.5 billion). That means developed nations consume about 85% of total world (human) consumption. This gap is too wide. In our electronic age, most everyone knows how big the gap is, and the knowledge creates jealously and friction. It fills our newspapers with frustration and violence all over the developing world.
Despite the staggering difference in consumption levels, Jared is cautiously optimistic. He feels the developed countries will realize that high consumption rates are not directly required to live a comfortable life. He mentions Europe as an example. Use of petro-fuels there is about half as much as in the U.S. yet their quality of life is the same or better than our own. He feels our consumtpion rates can and will drop so that there is a smaller gap. Rates in the developing countries, notably China and India are rising already. Of course, all this has to be done while dropping our world carbon footprint enough to keep our climates from getting too warm. This is the challenge we must all face in the next decade or so. Are your ready?