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Environmentally Sustainable Development in the Third World

Causes of Unsustainable Development

Population growth: today the world’s population is just over 6 billion. It has doubled since 1950 and in the next fifty years is expected to reach about 10 billion. The highest population growth is in the poorer countries; populations in the West are growing but at a much lower rate. There about five people in Third World countries compared to only one in Western industrialized countries.

Energy consumption: the Western countries use far more energy: the average person uses 40 times as much as a person in the Third World. However, if all the Third World countries became developed and their energy use increased, there would not be enough oil, gas and coal to go around.

Resources consumption: the West represents about 20% of the world’s population, but uses over 80% of the world’s resources for its energy needs and for its industries. Again, there would be a problem of insufficient resources if all the Third World countries developed in the same way as Western countries. For example, how would plastics be manufactured without the availability of oil, or steel without iron ore and other minerals?

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