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Energy Equality and the Challenges of Population Growth

Andrea Natan Feltrin

Abstract


This paper points out the relation between population growth and energy justice in a finite world. Reflecting on the meaning of limits, I propose to look at energy justice in a broader sense: restoring a safe and more equal operating space for humanity by stressing renewable energy concrete possibilities. Firstly, I show that during the last two centuries humanity has turned fossil fuels into human biomass. I suggest that, a new approach to energy has brought the global population to an exponential explosion. Indeed, the phenomenon called Great Acceleration is characterized by an extraordinary increase in both population and consumption. Then, I explain why a growing demographic trend can be an effective obstacle to solve the problem of energy distribution. In this direction, I explore the current lack of energy independence of most of the states outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Hereafter, I explain, in physical terms, why planet Earth is not an isolated system nor a closed system but a finite one. Thus, a never-ending growth in term of energy consumption is bio-physically impossible. Finally, I emphasize how a realistic perspective on energy ethics has to be weaved with an informed consideration of demographic ethics.


Keywords


Environmental Ethics

Full Text:

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References


Boulding, Kenneth E. quoted in Ayres, Robert 1998. Turning Point: An End to the Growth Paradigm. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.

Colville, Robert. 2016, The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Deaton, Angus. 2013. The Great Escape Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 10.

Hardin, Garret, quoted in Balzani, Vincenzo and Venturi, Margerita. 2014. Energia, risorse, ambiente. Zanichelli: Bologna, p. 85.

Kolbert, Elizabeth 2014. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Leakey, Richard in Schmidheiny, Stephan 1992. Changing Course: A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment. Cambridge: MIT Press, p. 135.

Shiva, Vandana 2005. Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. Cambridge: South End Press, p. 49.

Tverberg, Gail. 2014. “Why a Finite World is a Problem”, Our Finite World. https://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/01/02/why-a-finite-world-is-a-problem/

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. “World Population Prospects: Key Findings and Advance Tables,” 2017 Revision, Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP/248, New York, 2017. https://www.compassion.com/multimedia/world-population-prospects.pdf

Wilson, Edward O. 2016. Half-Earth. Our Planet’s Fight for Life. New York: Liveright.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2018-002-felt






Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196


Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo