China and the ‘One Planet Equation’

 We seem determined to ignore the ‘One Planet Eqution’ in our assumptions of the future, as if ignoring it will change its immutable control over our destinies.

The latest manifestation is China’s stated intention to maintain a ‘recession’ growth rate of 8%. Equally tragic is the failure of economists and the media to understand the incongrutity of this.

Put in simple terms, the ‘One Planet Equation’ 1 = PCI requires ‘resource intensity’ I to be reduced by the ratio 1/PC in a resource constrained environment.

Inserting the figures for P from the graph below, assuming no more than median growth, and for C as 1 x 1.08 to the power 41, we have for 2050

1=27 x 1/27

In words this ‘mind model’ is saying that if China expects to grow  in population at the predicted median rate and an economic rate of 8%, on a resource constrained planet, then it must reduce its resource intensity; the resource use, per capita, per unit of consumption of goods and services by a factor of 27 by 2050!

This argument could be repeated for India and ignores the fact that western economies are already outside the limits of the equation.

The Earth will make this calculation, whether we ignore it or not, unfortunately the world is now focused on restoring a system of finance and production that ignores this calculation and all our limited creativity and ingenuity is being squandered in a fruitless quest.

Only a financial system that is built on built on the quest for reducing resource intensity will serve us on a planet constrained by the ‘First Law of Sustainability’ that ‘in a resource constrained environment, goods and services can only grow at the rate at which they can be dematerialized’.



graph from

China targets 8% growth despite crisis

By Geoff Dyer in Beijing

Published: March 5 2009 02:09 | Last updated: March 5 2009 12:43

China will meet its goal of 8 per cent economic growth this year, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Thursday, although he did not outline any new spending proposals to revive the economy.

In his annual “work report” to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Mr Wen said that the global financial crisis was deepening but that the goal of 8 per cent growth, which has been an unofficial target for months, was still realistic.



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