Today's post by Rick Boven is the first in a series from the speakers at The Voyage of a Lifetime, a seminar about economic imperatives and alternatives, being staged on Sunday, June 10 at Auckland's Q Theatre by the New Zealand Fabian Society, Public Address and Scoop.
You can read the press release for the event here. Unfortunately, as things stand you can't actually go unless you've already RSVPd -- the passage is fully booked!
And, of course, you're very welcome to comment here on this preview of his talk. So, over to Rick:
In 1800, there were around 800 million people on the Earth. The average income was about US$800 in today’s money. Technology development, energy from fossil fuels and global trade allowed rapid economic development that resulted in the advanced global economy that provides the abundant goods and services New Zealanders enjoy today.
Now there are over 7 billion people and the average global income is about US$8,000. The economy is about 60 times as big as it was in 1800. With current trends there will be 9 to 10 billion people in 2050 and the economy will be four times bigger than it is today.
Technology, fossil fuels and trade allowed us to exploit our environment so efficiently that the physical environment was not a constraint. In modern conventional economics, capital and labour are the recognised constraints and the environment is assumed irrelevant.
But the economy is now so large that it is putting a lot of strain on the environment. Emissions from fossil fuels are changing the atmosphere, resource costs are increasing rapidly and many important ecosystems are in decline.
The world’s leading climate scientists have convinced the world’s leaders that global warming must be limited to two degrees above the 1910 level and there are many discussions taking place. But there is no global agreement yet and emissions continue to rise unchecked.
Around 80% of the world’s energy is from fossil fuels and the prices for energy and other important commodities such as food and minerals rose rapidly in the last decade, reversing a long term downward trend.
The world must now reduce emissions from fossil fuels to avoid disruptive climate change while the world’s leaders also want to ensure the economy is well supplied with energy and other commodities to sustain economic growth.
I will explore what some important global environmental trends will mean for us here in New Zealand at the Voyage of a Lifetime event held at the Q Theatre in Auckland on the 10th of June.
Rick Boven is a Director at Stakeholder Strategies