Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ecological footprint, war and refugees

The Global Footprint Network has produced maps of the ecological balance of all regions of the world.  Red means the region has exceeded the carrying capacity of the local resources; green means the region has a surplus of resources.

The ecological demands of the U.S.A. exceed its biocapacity by 120%, in India demand exceeds capacity by 160%, in China by 260%.

Put otherwise, all of these regions, and all other red and pink regions on the map, are overpopulated. 

The map directly above depicts the total demands placed on the biosphere by the local populations.  The darker the color, the more demand.  Who puts the most demand on the biosphere?  Here are the top nine consumers of natural resources.

China tops the list, with more than double the ecological footprint than the U.S.A. in second place.  India is very close behind the U.S.A.

I often see people from India and elsewhere blaming "the west" for their poverty.  It is claimed that "the west" looted other nations to sustain itself.

The non-European nations can't blame Europeans for their population sizes.  Neither Europeans nor Americans caused their populations to grow to unsustainable levels.  There is good reason to believe that the practice of polygamy in some of these nations strongly contributed to their overpopulation, and that the traditional monogamy and sexual ethics of Europe played an important role in keeping the European populations smaller, enabling Europeans to maintain higher levels of per capita wealth. 

Moreover, the map below shows the biocapacity of the various regions of the world:

Brazil tops the list.  China has a biocapacity greater than the U.S.A..  India's biocapacity is greater than that of Canada and Europe.  Despite claims that Europeans "looted" India and Africa, as a matter of fact, India has a greater biocapacity than Europe and Africa has at the very least a biocapacity similar to Europe on a hectare by hectare basis. 

 The relative poverty in non-European nations is at least in part – probably a very large part – due to the simple fact that those nations had sexual and marriage norms that caused their populations to grow far more rapidly than European nations, resulting in higher ratios of people to natural resources, which per force results in lower wealth per capita.  The U.S.A. once had (I emphasize had) a small population and a large biocapacity, which resulted in a low ratio of people to natural resources, which naturally results in greater wealth per capita. 

Here's how much the ecological demands in the U.S.A. have been in excess of the biocapacity of the region between 1961 and 2012 – the green line indicates the biocapacity, the red area shows how much the region is in excess of capacity.

As you can see, due to damage, the biocapacity of the U.S.A. (represented by the green line) has been declining steadily since 1961.

Prior to 1965, the U.S.A. had limited immigration, but in 1965 the Hart-Celler act was passed, which greatly increased the number of immigrants entering the U.S.A..  Since immigration means more people putting more strain on the country's natural resources, immigration into the U.S.A. is accelerating environmental damage and the rate of progressive ecological collapse.

Here's the ecological footprint of India:

India is no ecological paradise.  This photo gives some indication of the Indian approach to environmental protection.

By meg and rahul - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Here's the ecological footprint of China:

Back in the 1960s China was more or less living within its carrying capacity, but since then it has consistently lived beyond its carrying capacity.  Chinese have not shown much concern for environmental preservation; 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China.


Chinese factory. By High Contrast - Own work, CC BY 2.0 de,

When a population starts experiencing resource shortages, individuals in the population may start fighting over what resources remain, or simply leave their depleted region in search of greener pastures.  Here's the ecological footprint for Syria:

Ecological demands far exceed the biocapacity of the region.  Same for Libya, deeply in the red:

Afghanistan is also living beyond its means:

As long as population demands on resources exceed carrying capacity, people are going to suffer and we are going to see progressive environmental degradation, increasing conflict between people, and mass migrations which will lead to more conflicts.    Be prepared.

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