Resources And Population

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Resources and goods are traded globally. A result is that regions with inadequate supplies of any input can make up for it with resources imported from elsewhere, as long as their demand is solvent (that is, if they have the cash for importing resources). If the raw materials for a factory are not locally available, they can be and are shipped around the world to where they are needed. If the oil products, natural gas, or electricity needed to run large transportation systems are not locally available, large pipelines, oil and gas tankers, and electric power grids will transport the energy to where it is used, and over great distances. If the soil is too poor, and fresh water inadequate to grow crops well in a region, fossil fuel-derived or powered machines, fertilizers, pesticides, soil conditioners, irrigation pumps, and so on, will be used to maintain output, or even temporarily increase agricultural productivity. Increased food production usually supports larger populations, and these populations depend upon imported, external resource inputs, fueled by cheap oil and other fossil fuels to maintain themselves.

The most important resource and single biggest item of world trade in volume terms in the so-called global market society is petroleum. Table 13.1 gives 2004 imports and exports of crude petroleum for selected countries, along with their populations, ordered by population size. The largest importer in the world was the United States, second was the relatively small Japan, having just under half the imports of the US. The combined population of the US and Japan was 427 million. The largest exporter is Saudi Arabia, with only 24 million people, but projected to increase to 35.6 million by 2025. Combining Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Iraq, their total oil exports do not quite meet the imports of the US and Japan, and they have only 32.66 percent of the importers' population.

Table 13.1 World petroleum supply and disposition, 2004 (crude oil only)

Country Population Primary supply Crude oil exports Net crude oil in millions crude oil imports (1,000 barrels/day) exports over imports (data date 2006) (1,000 barrels/day)

Country Population Primary supply Crude oil exports Net crude oil in millions crude oil imports (1,000 barrels/day) exports over imports (data date 2006) (1,000 barrels/day)

China

1,31 1

2,449

1 10

-2,339

India

1,122

1,912

0

-1,912

US

299

10,088

27

-10,061

Brazil

187

450

230

-219

Russia

142

84

5,21 1

5,127

Japan

128

4,049

0

-4,049

Mexico

108

0

2,1 18

0

Philippines

86

200

0

-200

Germany

82

2,218

22

-2,196

Egypt

75

0

38

38

Iran

70

0

2,556

2,555

Thailand

65

870

70

-800

UK

61

1,124

1,223

99

France

60

1,718

0

-1,718

Italy

58

1,762

2

-1,759

South Korea

49

2,271

0

-2,271

Colombia

49

4

213

210

Spain

46

1,197

0

1,197

Algeria

38

7

1,279

1,272

Canada

33

923

1,336

414

Iraq

30

0

1,600

1,600

Saudi Arabia

24

0

7,143

7,143

Taiwan

23

1,004

0

-1004

Netherlands

16

1,039

24

-1015

Chile

16

208

0

-208

Angola

16

0

1,01 1

1,01 1

Ecuador

13

0

379

379

Hungary

1 1

109

3

-106

Sweden

10

415

0

-415

Israel

9

210

0

-210

Libya

7

0

1,219

1,212

Finland

5

216

0

-216

Singapore

5

881

0

-881

UAE

5

0

2,172

2,172

Kuwait

2

0

1,479

1,479

Source: Energy Information Administration, US. Department of Energy, www.eia.doe.gov/iea/, and Population Reference Bureau, www.prb.org/pdf06/06WorldDataSheet.pdf.

Source: Energy Information Administration, US. Department of Energy, www.eia.doe.gov/iea/, and Population Reference Bureau, www.prb.org/pdf06/06WorldDataSheet.pdf.

Though most developed countries in Europe and Japan have either fairly stable or declining populations, the US is still growing quite rapidly, mainly due to high levels of legal immigration, tolerance of illegal immigration, and the relatively high initial fertility levels of the new immigrants. US population at the current rate of expansion might attain about 420 million by 2050.5 In all cases, developed countries depend on drawing resources from less developed ones. The financial, political, and cultural aspects of this are described as "under-development," which we might more accurately call exploitation. It is therefore not surprising that less developed countries retain a certain level of suspicion regarding anything the developed world might offer in the way of "aid and assistance." The problem is particularly acute for any concerted effort to control world population well in advance of fossil fuel depletion taking the decision out of human hands - through mass starvation. One aspect of the developed/ underdeveloped nexus is that less developed countries often resent "solutions" offered, or imposed, by the richer countries.

Fortunately, the United Nations - with most countries of the world as members, including both haves and have-nots - has a fairly aggressive strategy to reduce world population growth rates. Information, education, and materials are offered to help people limit family sizes and live well with the children they do have. Declining infant mortality alone goes a long way towards lowering fertility. With fewer infant deaths, parents do not have to have so many babies in order for one or two to reach adulthood. This is one way the developed world can provide assistance without being accused of telling the less developed countries what to do - by funneling aid through the United Nations, representing all countries. (This will not work, of course, if the developed world dominates UN population policies, or withholds funds to support them.)

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Population Information Network have active programs to help countries control runaway population growth and to assess its causes. When releasing the UNFPA report titled The State of World Population 2000, its Executive Director, Dr. Nafis Sadik, said: "Millions of women are denied reproductive choices and access to health care, contributing each year to 60 million unwanted or mistimed pregnancies and some 500,000 preventable pregnancy-related deaths. Nearly half of all deliveries in developing countries take place without a skilled birth attendant present." According to the World Bank it was estimated in 2001 that 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below US$1 a day and that 2.7 billion lived on less than US$2 a day in 2001.6 At least half of the current population of the world lives in poverty.

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