China’s population and energy consumption

China's population and energy consumption

In the quest for a more harmonious relationship between development and the environment, it has been recognized that there are three interrelated components of human influence, which can be thought of as the product of population, consumption, and technological factors. Impact on the environment = population × consumption × technology.

In China, the demographic factor bears the brunt.

Earth is overpopulated, China has long maintained its position as the most densely populated area in the world. In fact, the rural population density in many areas of China is already higher than that of small and medium-sized towns in Europe and the United States. Due to the huge population base, the energy demand is huge. An obvious example, if electric water heaters are used to solve the indispensable bathing problem for 1.3 billion people in my country, each person uses 50L of water per day, and this small demand alone exceeds the total power generation of the 8 Yangtze River Three Gorges Project. Population problems include four categories: population quantity, population quality, population structure, and population distribution. From the perspective of quantity, quality, structure and distribution, the current situation of China’s population is as follows.

The status quo of China’s huge population and continuous population growth will coexist for a long time. In an overpopulated country, the challenge is to recognize that population is both a resource and an asset, as well as a burden and a problem. At present, China is in a stage of growth in which the momentum of population growth will take a long time to release its inertia. At present and in the next ten years, China’s population will continue to grow at an average annual rate of 7 to 10 million. In the 21st century, China will usher in three peaks of total population, working-age population and aging population.

The huge population, on the one hand, provides abundant labor resources and a huge domestic consumer market for China’s economic and social development; on the other hand, the large population has indeed brought huge and lasting pressure on China’s resources and environment, and has formed three unique problems of China’s population and development. The first is the problem of feeding more than one billion people, the second is the employment problem of about one billion people, and the third is the problem of pensions for hundreds of millions of people.

If we talk about China’s population problem before the 1980s, it mainly lies in the low quality of science and culture and the low quality of health. In recent years, issues such as “aging population” and “high sex ratio at birth” have become the focus of attention.

The National Situation Analysis Research Group of the Chinese Academy of Sciences estimates that China’s population carrying capacity should be controlled within 1.6 billion people, and the most suitable population is about 700 million, which is the lifeline to maintain China’s population. According to the load capacity of the ecosystem, China should not exceed 1.26 billion people in terms of food production; according to the ideal load of energy, it should not exceed 1.15 billion people; according to land resources, it should not exceed 1 billion people; according to fresh water supply, it should not exceed 450 million people; according to animal protein supply, it should not exceed 260 million people. This is the stark reality facing the Chinese population.