Save energy, avoid population disaster

Richard A. Muller writes in last month's Technology Review about how we can survive this century's projected global population peak of 10 billion without running out of everything. We simply have to increase our rate of energy conservation from 1 percent per year (the average since 1845) to 2 percent. Not inconceivable when the US has managed 4 percent for brief periods.

At 2 percent growth conservation outruns population by a large factor. Two percent compounded over 100 years reduces energy use by a factor of 7.2. By 2100, with a world population of 10 billion people, everyone can be living at the current European standard of living and yet expending half the energy we are using today. ... If we allow conservation to putter along at 1 percent, on the other hand, then in 2100 we will be using 40 percent more energy than today.

Note, however, that this assumes "current European" standards of living. If Westerners want to continue improving their lives at the expense of the environment, we're in trouble. (via SciTech Daily)

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