Great read: The End of Growth

One of my best reads this summer was Jeff Rubin’s book The End of Growth. This chief-economist-turn-author asks, “What will be the impact on world economies of triple-digit oil prices?” His analysis of governments and financial institutions, and his argument about economic growth and competing global agendas are not only informative, but very insightful.

Here are two paragraphs of facts that help make some remarkable arguments in the book. On oil pricing…

     Global oil consumption in 2000 was roughly 76 million barrels a day, with Brent crude averaging $28.50 a barrel; the world’s annual oil bill was $791 billion. Skip ahead to 2010. World consumption was up to 87 million barrels a day,  with Brent crude averaging $79.50 a barrel. The combination of higher prices and more demand had quadrupled the annual fuel bill to $2.5 trillion. Only a year later, Brent crude was averaging more than $100 a barrel. That price increase alone added more than $500 billion to what the world spends each year to keep the wheels turning.

     The extra money didn’t fall from the sky. The cost is footed by the world’s major oil-consuming economies, and the cash is shipped into the outstretched arms of oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia and Canada. (page 51)

On the world’s population…

     The United Nations estimates that the world’s 7-billionth person was born on October 31, 2011, most likely in Ultar Pradesh, the poorest and most populated state in India. According to the UN, the child is unlikely to have access to electricity or in-door plumbing and has only a 60 percent chance of attaining literacy. Over-all, the UN estimates the 2.5 billion people in the world lack basic sanitation.

     The UN’s forecast for the global population to reach 10 billion this century leaves you wondering how the planet will support another 3 billion bodies. What will be left of the earth’s remaining forests, jungles, oceans, rivers and wildlife? Even if we sacrifice the environment entirely, what kind of quality of life can the world’s 10-billionth person expect? (pages 222-223)

Jeff Rubin’s conjectures are a great read.  For further information about this book, see an interview with the author on the arguments within The End of Growth.   Read the reviews of the book: here, here and here.

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