General, Research, Technology

What will a world with a population of 10 billion be like?

Just twenty years ago, the world's populationamounted to 6.115 billion (data for 2000). According to the most conservative forecasts of scientists, in 30 years - by 2050 - the world's population will exceed 8 billion people. As the researchers write in an article for The Conversation, they found that using 60% less energy than today can provide a decent standard of living for the world's 10 billion people by 2050. To do this, you need to consume 75% less energy than today, or about the same as the world used in the 1960s of the twentieth century. Countries such as the United States and Australia currently consume the most energy per person. This number could be reduced by 90%, while guaranteeing a decent standard of living for all of humanity. And the rest of the energy needs, according to the authors of the new study, are likely to come from clean renewable sources. It turns out that you can look to the future with optimism?

Can the world feed 10 billion people?

Good life

Researchers note that in order to achieve peace,in which resources are equally available to all equally, radical action will be required on all fronts, including the massive adoption of the best available technologies: the most energy efficient buildings, vehicles, appliances and lighting systems, as well as the most advanced facilities for the production and recycling of all necessary materials.

It also calls for a drastic reduction in consumptionenergy and resources by some people. Also, we must not forget that one of the problems contributing to climate change is overconsumption. And if we want to secure a healthy and happy future for ourselves, it would be good to revise the shopping list and curb our appetites. However, of course, this is easier said than done.

See also: Climate change is detrimental to every child on the planet

Authors of the work published in the Global magazineEnvironmental Change write about the need to smooth out global and national inequality in the world. In their work, they assumed that inequality in energy consumption persists only where it is dictated by necessity. So, especially cold or hot climates require more energy for heating and cooling. In sparsely populated countries, people have to travel more to meet their needs.

Graph showing global energy consumption and energy sources from 1900 to 2020.

But what do the authors of the study mean by"Good life?" The concept that scientists use in their work is actually far from what is defined by consumer culture and at the same time far from anything that resembles poverty. The researchers established the following criteria: a sufficiently large dwelling with a comfortable indoor temperature all year round; with clean, running hot water; there is a washing machine in every house; refrigerator with freezer; laptops and smartphones; there are enough hospitals and schools, etc. near the house.

Required significant reduction in consumptionis not an obstacle to achieving a high standard of living. The solution to the ecological crisis does not have to be the attack on modern life, which many fear, the authors of the scientific paper write.

And yet, all these changes affect one way or anotherlife as usual in many other respects. This vision cannot be reconciled with a system that requires sustained economic growth to maintain employment levels, or that encourages the relocation of factories to locations where rampant environmental destruction is inevitable and where employee wages are barely sufficient to survive.

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New World

Environmental disaster is not the only onea twenty-first century problem for which the world appears to be ill-prepared. There are many fears that artificial intelligence and labor automation will drive massive unemployment and rising inequality. A world with a decent standard of living, consuming a minimum of energy, requires at least a partial solution to the problem of global inequality.

What awaits us - a high-tech future or an ecological disaster?

It is important to understand that regardless of ourdesires and dreams for the future, the world will still change. Perhaps very soon we will see how taxi drivers will be replaced by self-driving cars, workers - by fully robotic factories that produce synthetic meat on a scale of breathtaking imagination. Even most of the medical and legal work is likely to be outsourced to algorithms powered by data streams from global sources. All this, along with a rapidly aging population, requires more and more attention.

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But what will our increasingly automatedfuture? If people lose their jobs, who will buy everything that these automated factories produce? In a new world of intelligent machines doing most of the work, looming environmental restrictions and a growing proportion of a population too old to work, wages and money can be meaningless.

We are certainly far from utopiannotions of luxury for all, but ensuring a decent standard of living for all is already technologically possible. When ecological disaster and social decay is the alternative, the pursuit of such a world seems not only desirable but necessary. Do you agree?