How Much Is Really Necessary?

How much is really necessary?
Melor Sturua (1928-2021), Russian journalist and author

My maternal grandfather used the phrase “walking in high cotton” to describe being in the presence of distinguished individuals. I am thankful to have made the acquaintance of Melor Georgievich Sturua a few years before he left this world in June of 2021. It was just one of those things. An obituary can be found in Izvestia, for which he wrote for many years. Many Russian readers “discovered America” by way of his writing.

How much is really necessary?

There is a particular conversation with him I wish to share. I’m not exactly sure how this came up, but I asked him

“America has 330 million people. India has 1,366 million people. China has 1,398 million people. What will happen if the people of India and China consume as much resources per capita as the people of America?”

He answered without a blink, and without missing a beat.

“It will be the end of humanity.”

How much is really necessary?

I believe this is true. The New Message from God teaches that humanity faces a world of declining resources. The image that is often used is a growing number of people drinking from a slowly shrinking well.

How much is really necessary? Jefim Vogel, a Ph.D student at the University of Leeds, and four other researchers have made an effort to answer that question. Their paper in the journal “Global Environmental Change” is titled “Socio-economic conditions for satisfying human needs at low energy use: An international analysis of social provisioning.” There are efforts in this paper to look at various countries to determine a level of resource consumption that will both mitigate climate change and avoid social revolution.

Some research in this area has already been undertaken. One particular result is the amount of global energy consumption per capita consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C. This figure is 27 Gigajoules per person, or 7500 kilowatt-hours. How does this compare with what we are currently using? It’s a lot less.

How much is really necessary? What is the level of certainty on that red line? I don’t know if these results are true or not. But the researchers report that no nation on earth meets the needs of its citizens, and stays under the 27 Gj per capita energy budget. The world as a whole consumes almost three times that figure. All I know is that if the above figure is true, everyone faces difficult choices in the years to come.

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