Gradually Equalizing World Incomes

It is laudable that traditional environmental foes in the United States are finally choosing to cooperate, according to the front-page article ``Traditional Foes Take New Tack On Growth,'' Jan. 12.

However, the challenge of the spotted owl is far more profound than we seem prepared to recognize - especially if we take a global (rather than national) perspective on environmental problems, as we increasingly must do.

As societies become politically and economically open and free, they can be expected to strive for the standard of living of the US, which Japan and Western Europe have aspired to and achieved in the last 50 years.

Unfortunately, even a simple equalizing of global personal incomes and consumption would be accompanied by a geometric increase in environmental degradation.

Currently, about 10 percent of the world's population absorbs roughly 50 percent of its resources. If present ``have not'' countries were to simply attain the same standard of living as we now enjoy, the increase of global resource consumption would be extreme, even assuming no growth in world population or in our level of wealth.

More realistically, if world population is held to a modest 2 percent increase per year for the next century, and if the Western economies grow at an equally moderate 3 percent during the same period, world income parity would be approached at a much higher level of global resource use, at something like 90 times the 1994 level.

We are in for inevitable changes in the way we live and view our world. The challenge of environmental survival seems so great that it is likely that the 1990s will be considered, in a hundred years, as different as we now perceive the feudal societies of the 14th and 15th centuries to have been. Kenneth Agle, Menlo Park, Calif.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK