Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just the facts

World population: 6.6 billion (link)
India population: 1.1 billion (link)
China population: 1.3 billion (link)
United States population: 0.3 billion (link)

Our industrial revolution began in the late 1700s. Our Western society took decades upon decades to fully industrialize, with progress continuing (and accelerating) to this day.

The rapid industrialization and urbanization in India and China has been going on for, maybe, 10 years. That means 36%, or one third of the entire planet, is moving at light speed towards Western-style lifestyles and consumption rates. Raw materials are at record prices, as China in particular requires ever-more food, oil, steel, concrete, ...

The law of supply and demand is like the law of gravity: it just is. When there is more demand, prices will go up and consumption will go down. When there is less demand, the reverse occurs. Politicians cannot wish away the increases in demand from China and India.

American politicans — both Democrats and Republicans — have their favorite blame targets (evil oil companies, evil environmentalists that prevent domestic drilling), but don't believe the hype.

We need to prepare our country for some fundamental shifts, such as a country four times as big as ours, all wanting cars and Taco Bell.

And don't even get me started on looming demographics in Western countries (thanks D for the link), and what happens when you build monetary programs like Social Security on the assumption that population will always increase over time.

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