XLRI: The cost of overpopulation and greed — is there any future for mankind?
The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner: While COVID-19 has severely affected many world economies, many things have come into the limelight in the wake of the pandemic. People have realized that life is precious and that nature has limited resources.. How do you see the future of the economy? Will we move towards a resource-based economy? How would future technologies impact us or life as such?
Acharya Prashant: In the short term, probably, consumption will keep rising. The bigger picture is that the Earth just cannot sustain the kind of consumption we are exhibiting.
So, how do I look at the future? Well, mankind will be forced to reduce its population. You cannot continue to be eight billion, ten billion, twelve billion, and then say, “Well, in the natural course of things, we are anyway going to stabilize at twelve billion.” Even eight billion is just too much, it is too much by many times. Twelve billion is unthinkable, and you are talking of twelve billion when all these twelve billion aspire to have a per capita consumption similar to that of the United States.
So, what are we looking at? We are looking at a scenario where nations have the population of an India and the per capita consumption of an U.S. Multiply these two, and what do you get? Utter tragedy. Neither are we ceasing to have kids, nor are we realizing that the good life does not consist of multiplied consumption. That is how the world is living; that is how even the development of countries is being indexed: how much people consume. We take those figures, put them in descending order, and then say this country is the most advanced because it produces this much stuff. That stuff could be nuclear fissile material, or that stuff could be coal, iron, electricity, or electronics. But nevertheless, you know only one way to measure development, which is production and consumption. And when it comes to production, you are not merely producing goods; you are producing babies, too, at an alarming rate. ‘Alarming’ is a gross understatement, a very lightweight word.
So, what is COVID? In the popular conversation about COVID, we talk of how governments have failed, we talk of…