Part 3: Zero Growth Kills Millions

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by Benjamin Deniston, LaRouche PAC:

In a 1983 report Lyndon LaRouche warned:

“In the coming period, fission sources, increasingly supplemented and later entirely superseded by thermonuclear, must be the leading feature of energy-generation policy. It would not be possible to supply supplies of added energy adequate to approach the requirements of the developing sector, most emphatically, without primary emphasis on unleashing and expanding potentials for fission generation of electricity and process heat today, and proceeding as rapidly as possible toward progress in successively more advanced versions of controlled thermonuclear processes. Without this policy, tens of millions or some multiple of that must die of increased mortality rates, for lack of energy supplies adequate to prevent this.” (Emphasis added.)

 — A Fifty-Year Development Policy for the Indian-Pacific Oceans Basin, EIR, 1983.

Today, 40 years later, we can see the catastrophic realities of the failure to adopt his program. Take 1980 to 2010 as a roughly generational period for comparing what could have happened globally, under LaRouche’s program, and LaRouche’s forecast for how many lives would be lost if this program was not adopted.

As examples of successful development over a 30-year period we take the cases of South Korea and China.

For South Korea, start with the average national economic energy-flux-density values in the 1970s—we focus on four values, energy and electricity consumption per capita and per square kilometer. Then look at South Korea’s growth into the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Over this 30-year time period, electricity consumption grew to 1,400% per capita and 1,900% per square kilometer of 1970s values (to 7,500 and 3.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, respectively); primary energy consumption grew to 600% per capita and to 800% per square kilometer of 1970s values (to 50,000 and 25 million kilowatt-hours per year, respectively).

South Korea

1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
Electricity per capita (kWh) 544 1,381 3,650 7,521
Electricity per km² (million kWh) 0.2 0.6 1.7 3.8
Energy per capita (kWh) 8,647 15,849 35,191 50,467
Energy per km² (million kWh) 3.2 6.7 16.4 25.1
The World Bank: Population, total: ( 1 ) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. ( 2 ) Census reports and other statistical publications from national statistical offices, ( 3 ) Eurostat: Demographic Statistics, ( 4 ) United Nations Statistical Division. Population and Vital Statistics Report ( various years ), ( 5 ) U.S. Census Bureau: International Database, and ( 6 ) Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Statistics and Demography Programme. The World Bank: Land area (sq. km): Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita), Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1970-2010), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

For China, start a decade later, in the 1980s. We see resulting decadal growth rates a bit lower than South Korea, but no less impressive, when considering the size of the Chinese country and population (additionally, the 2010s data only goes through 2015, so we are missing China’s continued growth from 2015 to 2019). Electricity consumption grew to 950% per capita and to 1,200% per square kilometer of 1980s values (to 3,500 and 500,000 kilowatt-hours per year, respectively); primary energy consumption grew to 325% per capita and to 420% per square kilometer of 1980s values (to 50,000 and 25 million kilowatt-hours per year, respectively).

China

1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Electricity per capita (kWh) 365 728 1,744 3,483
Electricity per km² (million kWh) 0.04 0.09 0.24 0.50
Energy per capita (kWh) 7,623 9,570 15,339 24,765
Energy per km² (million kWh) 0.9 1.2 2.1 3.6
The World Bank: Population, total: ( 1 ) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. ( 2 ) Census reports and other statistical publications from national statistical offices, ( 3 ) Eurostat: Demographic Statistics, ( 4 ) United Nations Statistical Division. Population and Vital Statistics Report ( various years ), ( 5 ) U.S. Census Bureau: International Database, and ( 6 ) Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Statistics and Demography Programme. The World Bank: Land area (sq. km): Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita), Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1970-2010), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

To visualize the national economic energy-flux-density growth for these nations during their respective 30-year intervals, we can isolate and graph annual electricity consumption per capita (the figures from Japan from the 1960s to the 1990s are included as well).

The World Bank: Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1960-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

As LaRouche said in his 1983 report,

“We know, speaking broadly on this point, that if a developing nation, for example, is to reach the levels of sustainable population-density obtained in industrialized nations, those developing economies must achieve approximately the per capita energy-throughput of industrialized economies.”

This is exactly what South Korea and China have been able to accomplish. Simplifying things a bit to show this, we can take the average values of South Korea and China (a relatively smaller and a relatively larger nation) at the bookends of their respective 30-year development periods, and compare these averaged values with the average 1980s values for a selection of industrialized nations (USA, Germany, France, and the UK).

Electricity per capita (kWh) Electricity per km² (million kWh) Energy per capita (kWh) Energy per km² (million kWh)
South Korea (1970s)
& China (1980s)
454 0.12 8,135 2.02
South Korea (2000s)
& China (2010s)
5,502 2.12 37,616 14.34
USA, Germany, France, & United Kingdom (1980s) 6,661 0.83 55,538 6.9
The World Bank: Population, total: ( 1 ) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. ( 2 ) Census reports and other statistical publications from national statistical offices, ( 3 ) Eurostat: Demographic Statistics, ( 4 ) United Nations Statistical Division. Population and Vital Statistics Report ( various years ), ( 5 ) U.S. Census Bureau: International Database, and ( 6 ) Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Statistics and Demography Programme. The World Bank: Land area (sq. km): Food and Agriculture Organization, electronic files and web site. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita), Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1970-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

In each of our four basic metrics (electricity and energy consumption per capita and per square kilometer), the average value of South Korea in the 2000s and China in the 2010s is near or beyond the average 1980s values of the four example industrialized countries.

This average of China and South Korea values, at their respective 30-year time intervals, serves as a reference point for what other developing nations could have achieved under LaRouche’s program, and a basis to assess the consequences of going with globalization, free trade, and radical environmentalism instead.

Mass-Murderous Consequences of Globalization

To illustrate the horrific realities of energy poverty and the importance of national economic energy-flux-density growth, we can compare electricity consumption per capita in individual countries with various measurements of their quality of life and mortality rates. To avoid some of the wider energy-flux-density variation expressed in small nations, we have only selected nations larger than 25,000 square kilometers (the size of the U.S. State of Maryland).

First, comparing child mortality and child stunting rates (under the age of five) against the electricity consumption per capita in each country, we see a clear correlation, with the low-energy-flux-density countries suffering rates twenty times higher.

The World Bank: Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births): Estimates developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation ( UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA Population Division ) at childmortality.org. The World Bank: Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (2005-2014), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

The World Bank: Prevalence of stunting, height for age (% of children under 5): UNICEF, WHO, World Bank: Joint child malnutrition estimates ( JME ). Aggregation is based on UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank harmonized dataset ( adjusted, comparable data ) and methodology. The World Bank: Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (2005-2014), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Additionally, we see the same relation if we look at poverty rates (defined as living on less than $1.90 per day) and the rates of death from communicable diseases and malnutrition.

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