Apr 27, 2012

Tighten your belts, scientists tell the rich "rebalancing" of global consumption to go hand-in-hand with attempts to curb rises in population.

The world's wealthiest people must urgently reduce their consumption to save the Earth from a "vortex of economic, socio-political and environmental ills", a major report by Britain's leading scientific academy concludes.

The Royal Society panel of 23 eminent academics from around the world in the fields of economics, population studies and conservation science, calls for a radical "rebalancing" of global consumption to go hand-in-hand with attempts to curb further rapid rises in population.

It concludes that tackling global inequality is central to solving the problem of too many people exploiting dwindling natural resources.

The global population, which has reached seven billion, is growing at about 80 million a year. Developing countries will need to build the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days for the next 40 years because of urban migration.

The increased demands this will place on the Earth's limited resources means that people living in rich countries will need to consume fewer natural resources so that poorer nations can consume more, the scientists say.

"Human impact on the Earth raises serious concerns, and in the richest parts of the world per capita, material consumption is far above the level that can be sustained for everyone in a population of seven billion or more," the report says.

"This is in stark contrast to the world's 1.3 billion poorest people, who need to consume more in order to be raised out of extreme poverty," it says.

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