Electricity 6: Electric cars for private use vs. Electrifying public transportation

Continued from Electricity 5: My reluctance towards building electric cars for private use

1. Electric cars as private transportation – not really the “Green Guardian”

There are four main arguments which make me consider that Electric cars may not be the ideal solution environmentally and towards the general aspect of “Driving”. The latter applies not just to electric cars, but in general to all modern cars.

Firstly the electric cars have diverse issues and the biggest of it is the “Energy mix” factor. The automakers show enormous push and I assume “Lobbying” too to secure their market presence sooner, but is it really worth it? They propagate it as being environment friendly and sophisticated. A first world country like Germany can imagine of using electric cars in a healthy way as it’s constructively working on its energy mix. By 2038[i], it has planned to completely phase out it’s coal usage and I’m very confident that it will do so. It has already been showing its actions for nuclear to have it phased out by 2022 positively.  Expecting this behaviour to the rest of the world countries puts the “environmental friendly” tag of an electric car as questionable and miserable.

Secondly the infrastructure needed for charging stations and battery disposals and additionally the funding needed to convert the current petroleum (diesel & petrol) set-up to electric is unimaginable for an implementation on global scale. Can this infrastructure be developed for the whole world in a foreseeable amount of time and fast? Unfortunately the issue of CO2 does not pertain just to the first world countries. We need a world solution and immediate. Looking from this angle, the push from the automotive companies merely looks like a withdrawal symptom for them to give up their current revenues. A move to electric will just secure their revenues and would not help the world in any way.

Thirdly when so much money is anyways pumped into research of intelligent systems, why insist on the concept of a “Driver” still? Better scrap all the private transportation which in modern cars anyways are increasingly driven by the software. Rather let the software take over the whole “Driving” aspect. Yes! I’m talking about driverless cars. The last post discussed on the topic as an ethical issue in terms of accidents. Driverless cars wouldn’t have this issue and me as a beer crate user Gen 2.0 who is struggling to change my habit from manual cars, I can perfectly imagine being driven than being asked to be friends with an intelligent system. At least I have the hope of developing the habit and accepting to drive a modern car. My dad who never used a smart phone, will never be able to adapt to the modern driving which increasing needs us to interact with the software systems. A driving license in his case wouldn’t be applicable anymore to this case. A new driving license should not just teach “Driving” but also “Interacting” with the software systems.

The Fourth and final is the disagreement over “Drivertainment”. When so much focus is put towards increasing the entertainment quotient of the passengers and the drivers in the car, the risk of having the awareness reduced towards the surroundings increases. This is a safety critical issue and might lead towards much regulation for the drivers. The whole aspect of driving would turn out to be safety critical and very stressful which is exactly the opposite feeling of driving a manual car.

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Picture 1

On these grounds, I argue that Electric cars may not be that solution that will gain acceptance and may not be the ideal solution what we are looking for. Moreover I would argue that electric cars are a type of transition products or a temporary solution which will eventually lead to the real solution

2. Rationale behind “Electrified” Driverless cars – 

Refer to my blog post on where I discussed about “Transition products”. In a product spectrum life cycle, you also have crests and troughs of how a product variant is accepted in the market. It can split into three types – Standard products, Transition products and failure products. If a launched product fails, usually it will be removed completely out of the catalogue or fixed for its issues and will be re-launched in a different brand name – These are “Failure products”.  Meanwhile “Standard Products” have the longest life cycle in the market as people have accepted it. People are able to connect to some feature in the product that they find it hard to give up. Examples here are our standard petroleum cars. I would categorize Electric cars as a “Transition product”, as it has the capability to make the people change their habit, but does not promise universal acceptance. Usually such transition products facilitate the route to a completely new “Standard product”! In my blog post, I would have discussed on how tooth powder acted as a transition product helping people switch from lemon twigs to tooth brush and tooth paste concept.

The new Standard products given the current development could logically be the “Driverless cars”. The nature of driverless cars tackles issues software interaction and “Drivertainment” inherently. The issue of energy mix and Infrastructure will remain the same for this issue too. But rather than focusing the development of infrastructure for electric cars, developing it for driverless cars makes sense on the long run. A transition product like an electric car will be short lived. The infrastructure developed for this electric car will have to be partially scrapped and only a part of it can be carried over to the next spectrum which in this case is a “Driverless car”.

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Picture 2

3. Classic Public transportation – Still a viable option!

All the fuss of the automotive industry is still over “private transportation”. Electric cars wouldn’t change much if it still will be sold to private customers. The usual argumentation for private transportation is the sense of privacy, flexibility and the ability of reaching places not covered by the public network. All are valid and there is one more argumentation above all – Status symbol! I will avoid discussing on Status symbol as it’s a cultural and psychological issue and is out of scope here. A friend of mine from Rome mentioned that the Italians in Rome avoid public transportation as apparently it makes them perceive to be lower in class.

Apart from status symbol, to address the other three issues, let’s assume a locality with 1000 people. On today’s standards, this place will have easily 500 privately owned cars. Can privacy and flexibility be covered with less than 50 cars which can be rented as necessary? It is imaginable. Either a start up or the government can organize to own and maintain these cars and rent out as needed. The village where I live in Germany has a train connection to a bigger city 40 km away every half an hour. But there is no connection the nearby villages. Only possibility is a car! We have the necessity to drive to these villages at least 2 times a week. We can imagine renting a car for these purposes.

The third point is that the public network does not cover all the places. I made a simulation on what if public transportation is organized to cover the entire network available in a city. I took a city approximately the size of Stuttgart. Stuttgart has about 1500 km of roads and roughly half of its population of 0.63 Million people own cars.

Electric cars part 2 - Microsoft Word

Picture 3 – Stuttgart Stats

I took references from multiple websites to estimate infrastructure, operational and overall costs of trains, trams, buses and cars. I wanted to calculate two numbers – the cost of ownership per person for privately and publicly owned transportation units and their respective CO2 Emission profiles. The final result is shown below. I have published a simplified version here. If any of you is interested in the details, please write in the comments. I can forward you the detailed excel calculations behind.

4. Electrifying Public transportation – Numbers show real promise!

Under classic public transportation I assumed getting rid of private transportation i.e. private ownership of vehicles completely. In this section, I made an assumption on what if such a wholesome public transportation uses “electrified units” exclusively! This may be driverless in the near future. If the push should happen in this direction, it may be a win-win situation for the automotive industries and the governments too.

Automotive companies can diversify into building infrastructure for driverless cars and compensate for their loss with petroleum cars. This will be an amicable solution on the long run too. All their efforts to vigorous lobbying for electric cars can be saved. After all, if their pitch for electric cars is being environment friendly, we need a better product. Which leads me to ask why not “electrifying public transportation”?

Government cannot restrict movement of population! It has to facilitate it in a way that it both cost-effective and has the least environmental footprint. The table below compares four logistics systems through which movements can be facilitated.

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Picture 4

(1) Calculations based on a reference network of 1500 km – Comparable to Stuttgart city 

(2) Cost per person per month. Including all costs – capital, operational, Maintenance & Infrastructure, disposal or recycling

(3) Private cars – costs are per person owning a car/ Public transportation – cost per capita i.e For a 3 person household with 2 cars – a car will cost 1072€ and Public transportation will cost 402€ 

(4) Emissions in Million tonnes of CO2 per year; including gray energy & energy for disposal/ recycling; Assumed population 0.63 Mil people; No.of cars: 1 for 2 people i.e 0.315 Mil cars. For calculations, the gray energy for electric cars are assumed to be the same as petroleum cars. There exist arguments which claim that the battery production for electric cars consume high energy and they increase the overall Gray energy for electric cars, This claim needs validation and thereby ignored for the calculations above.

(5) The operational costs includes the same cost of labor as with drivers too. As the programming needs for driverless cars might be higher, a future driver might be a costlier resource who is just a monitor sitting somewhere like in an Air traffic control. If cost of labor can be reduced by a certain extent, this will decrease the cost per month too


As you can see in the above simulation

  • Electric cars do not make sense financially for a private use, but will have about 32% emissions reduction in a country like Germany
  • Phasing out all the “private option” and switching to public transportation would reduce the financial burden per person or household till up to 75% and emissions can be reduced up to 81%
  • Having a combination of “Public transportation” and “electric units” will better the financials by 83% and emissions can be reduced till 94%

Point 2 can be technically implemented immediately on the governments’ will. In the blog post on CO2 emissions I have mentioned that we are emitting 30 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. Of this one-fourth are just contributed by vehicles i.e. about 8 billion tonnes CO2. Switching to public transportation completely could reduce the emissions 1.5 billion tonnes. That’s 6.5 billion tonnes CO2 lesser on a Global scale!

If you are already using the public transportation, you are really the “Green Guardian”. You buying electric will not make you one. You are already one!

Given the option, walk and bike wherever possible! – That’s really “Going green” and “Going healthy” too!

No to private Electric Cars! Yes for Electrifying public transportation!


If you like my posts, please acknowledge your motivation by Following/ Liking/ commenting on this blog. Thanks for reading

Credits: This topic over electric cars owes much to the discussion with my friend Mithun Kashyap. “Electrifying public transportation” was his terminology

Recommended Reads:

1. https://electrek.co/2019/03/20/chinese-electric-buses-oil/

2. https://business.inquirer.net/267764/how-europe-is-faring-on-renewable-energy-targets/amp




Electricity 5: My reluctance towards building electric cars for private use

Continued from Electricity 4: C02 Emissions: the Endgame

  1. The discussions on an electric car

Electric cars are a growing fad. Now it has become often the discussion with friends and acquaintances on whether it’s time to switch to an electric car. My wife and I have one diesel Corsa now. As we are living in the outskirts, car is a must for our daily necessities. The nearest supermarket is 10 km away. We have no option, but personally we are fans of public transportation. I love using that time for reading. After all, it’s a luxury to be driven too. We don’t need a private car and a chauffeur to have this luxury. In any case, we do consider shifting to a bigger city sometime. This will make the need for a car redundant. If this is not coming soon enough, we are planning to exchange it for a new car. Almost all the auto makers are offering a decent exchange premium for diesel cars[i].

Tax benefits are great. Financially, although still a bit costly, electric cars have become very much comparable to a regular car.  Let’s take Hyundai’s 2017 model Ioniq as a reference which is categorized under a lower middle class segment in ADAC Website. The base model costs 35,500€. I compared it on the same website with an Opel Insignia Grandsport Diesel which is in the middle class segment and costs 30,660€. A middle class costs 5000€ cheaper than a lower middle class segment. Yet, the yearly taxes of about 214€ falls out for the electric version and you might get a discount if you give back a current diesel car. In any case, financially an electric car almost makes sense. With every passing year, costs are getting more and more affordable. Operating costs of an electric are cheaper with the latest models. Insignia needs 5,8 litres per 100 km which is about 7.25€. Hyundai Ioniq needs 11.5 kWh Per 100 km or 3.45€ per 100 km.  The higher capital gets compensated with lower operating costs. I assume that the maintenance costs are similar too. From the finance side, I can’t say anything against electric cars.

ADAC Info - Autodatenbank Vergleichseite - Google Chrome

Picture 1 – ADAC

Still my greatest stubbornness is towards the feel of driving a car. I’m 30 years old and I grew up in the part of the world which loves manual cars. Both my wife and I love driving. The feel of driving is so relieving that when I tried driving an automatic car once, it felt simply like playing a video game and using a joy stick. The robustness and the feel of the mechanical parts were completely missing. I have never driven an electric car. The pick-up of an electric car can be amazing, but I can’t imagine if it can replicate the feel or offer a similar satisfaction as a manual car.

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Picture 2

My father-in-law has an old VW Golf for many years now in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He once used a beer crate instead of the seat, as he somehow felt, that a crate had better ergonomics. For such a guy, driving the new Astra what his daughter selected was out of question. He simply hates it. He loves his Golf, even if it takes forever and some hard ratting before it is parked. In comparison to today’s cars, I grew up with fairly mechanical cars – Tata Indigo, Opel Corsa and the finest one was Honda city. Once you sit in the car, you become part of the car. The transmission and wheels just feeling like extended limbs and of course the motor is the heart. It vibrates to your beat! I don’t like racing or going fast, but simply driving around is more than satisfying for me. Especially a night drive with a mild melody. When I visited my cousin who grew up in Canada, he asked me if manual cars are existent still. In Canada, Automatic has become a norm that he did not even have an idea that there are still many countries crazy about manual cars and Germany of it all! The new gen might not even know that manual cars existed once and that the world came into existence with Adam and eve driving an Automatic!


Picture 3 – Not my FIL!

All the modern cars are cool, technologically superior, fast and silent! I hate them. I don’t feel the engine anymore. I learnt that in many modern cars, the engine sounds are just simulated to give you the feel. You are not feeling the actual engine performance, rather a software vibrating or playing sounds accordingly. May be this is my beer crate equivalent. I may belong to the small part of the population who really likes to drive manual petroleum cars. And a significant other part would just want to go from Point A to Point B. Eventually, looking at a big picture, we need to see what makes sense to the environment and accordingly switch to electric or whatever. It’s a hard habit to develop. But the environment cannot be damaged for the sake of my hobby and people with similar feel. We may be even taxed higher for such personal necessities or given a separate ground to practice our hobby. But for a public use, going green is a must. The question what bothers me: Is an electric car really this green solution?

  1. The real issues with electric cars


The infrastructure for battery fueling stations needs to be developed still. With a diesel or benzene, you can just reach your destination with one tanking or you can easily find as many bunks as needed. For an electric car, currently you have to plan your journey in a way that your route passes through the stations. Else you might need to be towed away. This makes the average time spend on the road longer and in general is inconvenient. For a use within 100 km radius, an electric car looks fine. Anything above a certain kilometer level, based on the model, makes the planning aspect cumbersome. VW and many other automakers have already given announcements of building country wide charging stations. I assume that this problem is already being addressed and it’s just a question of time till we forget that this problem even existed at the first place.

Battery Recycling/ Disposal

Disposal of Electric car batteries is coming to the fore as a looming issue. On one side I hear the infrastructure being developed for charging stations but hardly anything for battery recycling or disposal. Apparently car batteries after use in electric cars could last for another 7 to 10 years. They could be used for household and other secondary application purposes[ii]. This is good, but are the houses and the markets made aware to facilitate this usage. Once this extended life form is complete, an orderly recycling and disposal has to be organized as the volume of such batteries resulting in the dump will be huge and it’s too big of a risk to get them into a landfill.[iii]

Increased Software Interface

As beer crate driver gen 2.0, one more thing which bothers me is the feel of the engine. This argument is not just restricted to electric cars, but to all the modern cars. As mentioned above, when I say that the modern cars simulate the sounds, the actual feel of the engine is missing i.e. a feedback mechanism to the driver is non-existent in the classical form which is simply “the feel”. When everything is silent, anyways we don’t feel anything. All the software developments head more towards simulation i.e. the driver will have lesser connection to what actually is happening to the system. An example to this case is my company car in the pool – a ford C-MAX. It sends me it’s judgements on the display screen. From time to time it shows on the display and beeps “Driver Alert, Time for a coffee break”! I would scream back at the car saying. “What the hell! Either you take over completely or let me drive completely. I know when I’m getting tired”.

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Picture 4

When a significant part of decision making is handed over to the car’s software and cut from the driver, in case of an accident, this will lead to an ethical question of who committed the accident – the driver or the car? By giving more authority to the car (software systems), the reliance on the driver’s judgement of the atmosphere and system is going less and less. Is this healthy? My claim is purely a “claim of feel” and has no scientific backing. If anyone has support to my hypothesis or feel, please offer support here. My argument coming especially in the tragic times of the Boeing 737 MAX accident is a valid one and it needs to be addressed with any modern vehicles. The nature of an electric car will make this factor very important, as this car will likely have higher software interface.

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Picture 5

Emissions Profile

The awareness of the environmental footprint of an electric car is growing. People started to understand that it’s the source of electricity that determines if the electric cars are really green. If a country generates energy with Coal and says that it wants to become environmental friendly with electric cars, it has changed nothing. Coal plants emit about 1001g of CO2 per kWh. A Hyundai Ioniq in this set-up will emit about 115g of CO2 per km. When we compare this with a diesel car which emits about 132g CO2 per km, the situation hasn’t changed much. The German electricity grid network has an energy mix from Coal, nuclear, wind and other sources that the mix collectively emits 568g CO2 per kWh into the atmosphere. In Germany, Hyundai Ioniq will emit 65g CO2 per km. It’s still a good deal, but is it the best?

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Picture 6[iv]

If you like my posts, please acknowledge your motivation by Following/ Liking/ commenting on this blog. Thanks for reading

To be continued: Electricity 6: Electric cars for private use vs. Electrifying public transportation

Credits: This topic over electric cars owes much to the discussion with my friend Mithun Kashyap. “Electrifying public transportation” was his terminology






Electricity 4: C02 Emissions: the Endgame

Continued from Electricity 3: CO2 Emissions: a floor report

Fun fact: this man-made disaster is just for all the living beings. Earth will live on! And cockroaches probably!

1. Tackling CO2:

There are six ways of how we can tackle CO2 release into the atmosphere.

  1. Switching to Nuclear power! But it has other grave issues. Not sure if chances are being explored to make it safe.


Source: http://www.pictureisunrelated.com

  1. Shut down Coal and Natural gas plants which have the highest emissions. This will have really high repercussions on world economy. Phasing them out overnight will lead to heavy loss of jobs and will send a deadly shock through the system if an alternative is not planned.


CO2 Emissions per source[i]

  1. Make all energies renewable which will lead to 0g emissions. To do this it is estimated that a 100 Trillion$ should be invested over the next 20 years[ii]. The world income is 80 Trillion $ and concentrated on just few hands. If you divide the cost per consumer, it will be too costly for an individual consumer to pay. You might just have to give 55 billion dollars from your monthly income of 2000$! Unless world powers are trying to co-operate and make at least investments bit by bit towards this goal, an individual consumer can’t do anything about it. This is where the importance of Trump’s exit from Paris environmental agreement lies in. He influences about 23 Trillion $ in the world (USA’s GDP)


  1. Invent a technology which will imitate a tree. Suck out all the CO2 and convert it to something human friendly: best case: Oxygen. There was interesting article on this topic. They call it “Negative emissions”[iii] and show there is hardly any research on this topic. They also warn if some policy maker should cite this as a solution, probably he/she is trying to deceive, as hardly any investment flows into this field. Quoted from the article: “Keith concurs.”As of today there is extraordinarily little research on it,” he says. “The number of scientists funded to do work on carbon removal globally is seriously small.”
  1. Plant trees! One mature tree can absorb 22 Kilos per year or about 1 tonne CO2 in its lifetime[iv]. For the same 1 trillion goal, if we want to tackle them by planting trees, we just have to plant about 4.5 trillion trees more. Currently, there are about 3 trillion trees[v] in the world and they absorb about 40% of the 30 Billion tonnes emitted every year. It’s fine even if we don’t plant new trees, but cutting down existing trees is disastrous. It is estimated that yearly 15 billion trees are cut out of deforestation or urbanization[vi]. Only about 5 billion are replanted, but it will take some years for it to become mature to absorb CO2 effectively.


Life cycle of tree cultivation[vii]

  1. Reduce household electricity consumption and support to bring down the CO2 emissions to acceptable level. This will be the focus of this article as this is something where you and I as common man can take actions independently without having to rely on governments or global leaders. Planting trees as in point 5 counts too


2. Switching to Eco Electricity! But does it make us Eco-friendly?[viii]


My energy supplier is EnbW Company. They are located about 40km away in a town called Heilbronn. On 6th August 2011, in response to the Fukushima catastrophe, one of their nuclear power generation units had been shutdown[ix] along with 7 others all over Germany[x]. Now they are carrying on further with the remaining nuclear unit and a coal firing unit. Additionally EnbW also has a hydro unit nearby. I have a 100% Eco-Electricity plan, which theoretically would mean that EnbW sends me the power only from the hydro unit. In reality it is not. It will be too costly for EnbW to make a separate electricity grid just for my home. Any energy generation unit therefore normally feeds their supply into to the public grid. Electricity mix is the appropriate term to be used. The electricity power grid in our region thereby would get a mix of electricity from these three sources, as once the electricity from any type of power generation unit gets fed into the grid, you cannot differentiate the electricity. What EnbW promises me is that for the money I pay, an equivalent clean power is fed into the grid somewhere else in the world grid. It’s a good thing that you can do by switching to Eco Electricity. As of 2019, Germany’s renewables mix has become 40% and has overtaken coal production which is at 38%[xi].

3. Yearly 20% reduction in your electricity bill can help reverse the climate change!

To see the relevance of the above claim that I can save 20% in my electricity bill and at the same time improve the environment, we need to see the role of my home in the context of the surroundings. It’s very similar to the argument over electric cars. Although the cars are electric, the recharging stations which supply energy to the cars are fed by coal and other non-renewables. By this setup, are we really going environment friendly by buying an electric car? Likewise by conscious electricity consumption, I can impact 20% of my electricity bill, but do I really impact the environment?

How does my 20% electricity bill saving fit in the whole picture?

As discussed above, the electricity mix that my house receives is a mixture of nuclear, coal and hydro. What I had learnt in my electricity lecture was that the energy generation units are controlled by smart systems. The units can only produce so much power as is needed in the homes. The public grid cannot be over burdened or under burdened. The smart system makes sure that this balance is always present, else the whole system will shutdown. What it means to us is that the electricity that we save at home by not running a device is really an energy not generated at the plant too. Lesser energy generation is lesser CO2 emitted in the air. This is the link to the environment and the air we breathe. In the table above in Section 1 point 2, you can see how much CO2 is emitted per source.

In Germany, an average house consumes about 6600 kWh[xii] per year. If I can reduce it by 20%, I will have reduced 750 Kilos of CO2 emitted just by my action! Meanwhile an Indian home uses only about 1100 kWh[xiii]. Let’s say that a person in the first world or having more electrical appliances at home will have a higher individual impact. A person in the city will have much higher impact, as urban sector consumes about 70% of the whole world electricity produced[xiv]. If you are living in a city and are on the higher end of the kWh scale, you are a high impact person. On the other hand, the total population of such high impact people are less, the bigger slice of the cake are those humongous number of small homes. That’s why I say regardless of whatever individual impact kWh you are making, a discussion or a goal setting in “Percent” is more reliable than an absolute number. A person in Germany should aim towards reducing 1200 kWh and meanwhile the person in India should try for reducing 220 kWh.

What does one person’s effort into reducing 750 Kilos of CO2 per year make?

To understand this statement, we need to switch to the global scale of electricity production. In reality, homes are not the only consumers of electricity. There are three other types of consumers and residential is just one of them. More or less, all the three of them almost have an equal distribution: Residential, Industrial and Transport


World energy use[xv]

Total electricity use in the world is about 100,000 tWh (Tera Watt Hours is kWh multiplied by 1,000,000) Given that the topic of discussion is Residential, we are talking about impacting 36% of the electricity as per the above table. Imagine if all the homes could save 20% year by year, the 750 kilo equivalents per home gets translated to an impact of 1.06 billion tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere year by year. Totally 30 billion tonnes of CO2 and upwards are released into the atmosphere year by year.

The contribution of each home could reduce total CO2 emissions by about 4%!

You can be sure that every effort of yours really counts. We have to proactively set a goal and run towards it. You can use my blog post Electricity 2 to cut down your energy consumption. If my wife and I would do our work well, by the end of first year, we should have consumed 1900 kWh less and 1280 kWh less in the second year and so on. Whether we will really achieve it or not is a different question and is up to the individual’s commitment. More important is to have the consciousness active!

Change begins from self!




How wild can my dream be to ask for my Coimbatore back?

To be continued: Electricity 5: Electric Cars and solar panels – Are they really viable?

If you like my posts, please acknowledge your motivation by Following/ Liking/ commenting on this blog. Thanks for reading.

Recommended Reads:

  1. https://www.dw.com/en/green-energy-solutions-youve-probably-never-heard-of/a-47731808
  2. Wetland mud is ‘secret weapon’ against climate change
  3. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-07/trump-said-to-again-seek-deep-cuts-in-renewable-energy-funding
  4. https://www.dw.com/en/co2-emissions-to-hit-historic-highs-in-2018/a-46606292
  5. https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-spot-530-000-potential-pumped-hydro-sites-to-meet-all-our-renewable-energy-needs/amp
  6. https://business.inquirer.net/267764/how-europe-is-faring-on-renewable-energy-targets/amp

















Electricity 3: CO2 Emissions: a floor report

Continued from Electricity 2: Understanding my home: How to reduce my electricity bills?

Coimbatore: a floor report

I hail from Coimbatore and since 2009 I live in Germany. Coimbatore used to be a heaven with moderate temperatures of 20°C and cool breeze all throughout the day. It used to be a pleasant place to live and was convenient to walk around. In fact, my friend and I used to walk 5km on a daily basis for about 10 years. Switch to 2019 now, average temperatures have gone above 35°C with dry and skin piercing winds. The infrastructure of the city is not equipped to survive the heat. Population explosion and drastic increase in number of vehicles aren’t helping the situation either. Given the cluster and chaos, building a green infrastructure is going to be very difficult. Vehicles have spoiled the air and the number of moving objects on the land has increased the dust. I could feel my lungs being filled with exhaust gas and I was choking. My eyes were having an irritating sensation too. There is hardly any government intervention. This was my experience visiting Coimbatore the last time in 2018. The whole time was so overwhelming that I felt like sitting on a stack of card castle and someone was just about to remove the bottom most foundation card. Whenever I think of bringing up kids in the city that I grew, it feels like running against a wall. The city is simply going out of hands. I don’t need numbers or scientific studies to prove that environment is being harmed. India in the recent years has started seeing deaths from heat waves. A person in Germany might not understand this yet, as the air is still fresh, but the situation is changing there too.


Source: Our World in Data[i]

In Germany, the last four years seem to make a statement. Winters aren’t that cold anymore and couple of summer months are unbearable with temperatures going above 40°C. Moreover the houses are not built for summer which makes it difficult to sustain the summer heat. The trend is alarming in a way that every New Year is unpredictable than the year before: Temperature swings are terrible. Soon world over, this trend might reach a tipping point and the next “Black plague” might result.

Why is CO2 harmful?

The strange thing in our world, which applies to many things, is that a healthy reality or a solution is in most cases in the middle. There is a saying “Too much of anything is good for nothing” – the contrary is also true “Too less is also too bad”. Reality is about striking that equilibrium. This setup basically summarizes the issue for CO2 too. Currently we are having too much of it. Too much of CO2 increases Earth’s average temperature and too less of it will freeze us[ii]. (Read Greenhouse Effect[iii])

How much of CO2 is released in the atmosphere today?

As of 2010, yearly over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 and upwards are released year by year into the atmosphere, with the energy sector contributing to about 50% of it.


Source: Our World in Data[iv]

What level of CO2 is permissible in the atmosphere?

All those 30 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted, increases the number of particles of CO2 in the air. It’s called parts per Million. Before 2014, the acceptable limit was defined at 400 ppm[v] which is already crossed now. Now a maximum tolerable level is pegged at 600ppm[vi]. As of  Jan 2019, the world ppm was at 411ppm[vii]. The cities will be the first one to die. A latest report says that Seoul, South Korea; Guangzhou, China; and New York City have the three highest carbon footprints of cities worldwide[viii]. Only Seoul emits about 30000 tons per year and a specific study says that in Seoul Metropolitan Subway (SMS), the indoor CO2 levels could reach up to 4000ppm[ix].

PrtScr capture

Source: http://www.CO2.earth

To avoid climate change scientists say that the ideal limit is 350 ppm[x].

The year 2050 is a global phenomenon for Global-warming. To avoid atmospheric temperature increase by 2°C we need to cumulatively emit less than 1 trillion or 1000 Billion tonnes by 2050[xi]. Since 1750 till 2009, the world had already added 0.5 Trillion tonnes C02 into the atmosphere, of which about half of it 234 tonnes was added just between 2000 and 2006.

Today in 2019 the total CO2 emission in the atmosphere is about 800 billion tonnes!!


Source: Statista.com[xii]

We are just 200 billion tonnes away to cause a disaster!

This is the reason why many scientific communities are showing Red flag! With our speed, we will cause the problem in just about 5 years! To reverse the trend, we have to reduce our usage by so much that we need to make this 200 billion tonnes CO2 emission span out for the next 31 years! Sounds like fantasy right? That exactly is our problem!

To be continued: Electricity 4: C02 Emissions – the Endgame

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Recommended Reads:

  1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/limits-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions/
  3. https://www.dw.com/en/where-air-pollution-hits-hardest/a-47907072














GDP Conclusions: history of world GDP and its side effects

Continued from GDP 7: the third threat – Environmental Choke


  • GDP increase does not necessarily mean that the income is equally distributed. A Pareto principle of 80:20 distribution of income is true for most societies.
  • With turning point in the 1950s, the dramatic GDP increase of the countries can be attributed to consumerism.
  • In a consumerist supply chain, you are the consumer and at the same time the worker too!
  • Right wing surge is obvious, but they have to choose the economic model wisely
  • Automation is not the answer; employment with guarantee for a minimum salary is!
  • Economic models should focus more on reducing the need for money than insisting to make more money i.e. to promote savings in a household, the costs can be cut rather than traditionally having the salary increased year by year. A sharing economy will automatically facilitate this than an economy focusing on increased ownership of products
  • A sudden stop of materials supply is a plausible scenario. Individuals can prepare by getting rid of their credits ASAP and increasing their savings. Governments can support only so many people and their reaction can be delayed.
  • Governments should practice and promote the sense of Co-existence with Nature and other species, rather than showing an outright “Domination”
  • Veganism may not be the answer, but meat consumption has to be regulated down to minimum.
  • Quality of life will be determining factor for the health of future generations: population increase, density and air emissions have to addressed with an attitude of applying an “Emergency brake”



Change begins from self!


———————–Fin – Thanks for Reading——————-

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GDP 7: the third threat – Environmental Choke

Continued from GDP 6: the second threat – Economical Choke

Environmental choke: animal and nature extinction

Sadly the most to suffer in all these fast changes are the plant, animal species and their homes i.e. forests. The diverse man made acts have caused tumult to the environment that its sudden changes has been unfavourable to many of the species, including us humans. It’s as if humans have declared themselves as the only “worthwhile” species and simply ruled out the aspect of “Co-existing”. To gauge this impact, I have split the topic into two sub-sections

1. Nature Vandalism

The total available land on earth in 2016 can be split as in the following representation.


Figure 26[i]


Figure 27

As of 2014, the world population was living in the 1% of land. To feed the then 6 billion people mostly living in this 1% area, 50% of the land was needed for agriculture. With today’s population of 7.4 billion and further increase, more land would be needed to feed more mouths and more space would be needed for living. This land has to be taken from somewhere. Unless a global scale policy is made on reduction in land for livestock which is seen to taking 77% of the agricultural land, the most likely option is to get the forests converted. Every inch of the forests would be converted for agricultural use or industrial use or for urban living. Although the graph above represents 37% for forests and 11% for shrubs, many other sources seem to disagree and they go with an even lower figure of 31%. It was found that the reduction in forests from pre-industrial era to today is one third i.e. from 45%, we are down at 31% and the most change has happened after 1950! Looking into the future, it’s calculated that we are losing 8.3 million hectares [ii]year by year, which means that with this trend we will lose all the forests within 100 years!

It would be interesting to have a comparison on how the land division would have been in the pre-industrial area, but the data was hard to find. Alternatively, the graph below might give you an idea of the extreme vandalism after 0 AD and the second big rise after the industrial revolutions.


Figure 28

Why are forests important?

Quoted from “Green tumble[iii]”: “Forests cover 31 percent of earth’s land surface and house a majority of the plants and animals found on earth. It is estimated that these diverse ecosystems house 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Rain forests have especially high species density, covering 2 percent of earth’s surface, but housing nearly 50 percent of all plant and animal species. These plants and animals are integral to forest ecosystems and provide countless ecosystem services to humans. If forests ceased to exist humans would be unable to survive. As important as forests are both environmentally and economically, many of our global forests are severely affected by deforestation. Deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change and species extinction.”


Figure 29[iv]

2. Intolerance towards other species

Quoted from “Green tumble”: #4 Starvation: When trees are destroyed, an integral piece of the forest ecosystem disappears suddenly. All animals, in one way or another, get energy from plants. Plants make energy from the sun and herbivores eat plants. Carnivores eat herbivores, which gained their energy from plants. If no plants are present, there is no food in the ecosystem and animals starve.”

On one side the “Obese” guy is not buying climate change and on the other hand no one really seemed to have cared about animals so far. Starving animals would be the least of priority to the world governments, especially the obese guy, who seems to have the focus on not letting the Person 11 overtake his GDP.

The world’s major ignorance towards the rest of the species is evident in the following graphs and it is outrageous.


Figure 30[v]


Figure 31[vi]


Figure 32

The above graphs simply say that the animals are slaughtered in alarming masses. The topic of the article which gave the data source to the extinction graph titled it as the “sixth mass extinction” and this one is man-made. If you divide the world animals into two categories as meat animals and non-meat animals, the non-meat animals are heading towards extinction simply by us ravaging their houses – the forests. And the meat animals are purely “control bred” for eating. In 2013 109 million tonnes of poultry meat, 112 million tonnes of pig meat and 68 million tonnes of beef were produced world over. An average poultry bird yields 1.71 kilos, a cattle type yields 209.6 kilos and a pig yields 78 kilos. Dividing this to the production, we can say that approximately 63 billion birds, 1.43 billion pigs, 0.3 billion cows and diverse other livestock are killed per year to feed the 7.5 billion and growing humans. The terrible part is that these animals are control bred in this mass year by year and slaughtered. Going Vegan is an appreciable side effect as a protest to this practice. Veganism may not be the answer, but when 77% of the lands are needed to control grow and carry out these mass killings and they could certainly be reduced by having it allocated for cultivating more crops. The crops consume way less space and can cover the consumption need of the growing population. At the same time, relieving the land from the livestock is a win-win situation, which gives us an option to be able to convert them to forests. This study does not cover water species as the historical numbers were showing an obvious increase in consumption, like any other graphs above, but was difficult to be converted to something tangible to address the seriousness under the water!

To be continued: GDP Conclusions: history of world GDP and its side effects

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GDP 6: the second threat – Economical Choke

Continued from GDP 5: the first threat – Survival Choke

The sudden stop: Economical choke

We analyzed the increase in wealth and increase in population so far. There is one another biggest threat which might choke the economy sooner or later. In our previous analysis, we saw that just the world Aluminium industry employs over 1 million [i]people and supports other 5 million jobs. The graph below shows that the industrial sector occupies about 22% of the working population. Of all the minerals in the background of these industries, only aluminium makes about 1.3% jobs directly and about 10% indirectly.


Figure 21[ii]

Imagine the scenario if the supply of Aluminium should suddenly stop! 10 million people would need new jobs overnight. In the analysis where you were both the consumer and worker, you were increasing your salary by switching jobs within the industry. Now the whole industry does not have work. Employees can’t switch jobs within the same sector too. People who were trained for nuances in Aluminium would find it very difficult to transfer to another sector. When too many people should suddenly come under the government payroll, the government treasury has to bridge their expenses till they find a new job. They might have to increase taxes to the other employees who might not be happy with the move and take it to a protest on the streets. A capable government would borrow money from other economies. In either of the cases, the timing of governments on how quick they can react is very crucial.  Many countries have laborious bureaucratic processes. For a first world country like Germany, when the surge of refugees happened, the government took years to respond.  As in our scenario, when a whole industry should face a shutdown overnight, it will be really challenging on how the governments will tackle. If they make delays, the person who lost the job and is depending on government, may be pushed to extreme consequences over credit burden. But how likely is this scenario to happen?

It was shocking to learn that Material pricing is not done based on scarcity, rather just on free market pricing. What this statement means is that, every year material price increases by certain extent. This price inflation usually has a supply and demand reason behind, where when a certain material has a demand, the manufacturers from the up the supply chain can ask for an increase in price every year, which the companies down the chain will be willing to pay for. So increase in price does not necessarily mean the material availability is decreasing. In fact, there is a possibility of sudden stop to happen i.e. after a century long constant pricing or mild increase, there might be sudden peak in price, when the resource base is found to be emptying soon.

Quoted from the paper[iii]“The problem is that the true size of the resource base is never known. Society does not know if technology is actually overcoming scarcity or not until demand for a resource outstrips supplies. It is even possible for a price shock of incredible magnitude to surprise an economy within one or two years after a hundred years of declining prices and increasing production.”

If we see the global increase in use of minerals, almost all the minerals are mined with the assumption of infinite availability. If Earth is completely mined of its last ore, the hope is that by then the technology would have advanced enough to take us to the moon or mars or has achieved 100% recyclability. I will leave it to the readers to decide which sounds more like fantasy – going to mars or running out of resources? I found a presentation titled “The future of mineral resources[iv]” by Price and Hitzman which hideously concludes that we are unlikely to run out of mineral resources. It looked like a presentation that someone would make to Trump. It makes me wonder, what the difference between gypsies and us is. Gypsies grazed a land till its last piece of vegetation, moved to the next land and grazed further. It makes the consumerist economies simply look as educated gypsies. Aluminium’s extraction exploded from about 1 million tonnes in 1950 to over 50 million tonnes currently.


Figure 22


Figure 23

The similar explosion in use of resources and increase in usage of electricity can be seen in the graphs below.


Figure 24

With increase in population, the exponential increase in material extraction is just showing more tendencies to increase rather than slowing down or being constant. Every political party and its term ruling the government has traits of managing a company after all. It needs to show an increase in GDP to the previous year. A slowdown might even topple the government and bring a new obliging party to power who will simply continue with making a graph always showing an upwards trend. The likelihood of a material stoppage is hard to predict until it occurs. But when it occurs, the likelihood that it could happen overnight could not be eliminated.  We should be mentally prepared to face such a situation. Governments should focus on these threats, parallel to making their upward trend graphs.


Figure 25

To be continued .. GDP 7: the third threat – Environmental Choke

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GDP 5: the first threat – Survival Choke

Continued from GDP 4: The chocolate river: on how the first world is having withdrawal symptoms!

1. Population increase and poverty


Figure 13[i]

In all this fighting for world resources and on making money, a critical aspect which went out of control is population explosion. The graph above shows the frequency of procreation after 1950s. A developing economy to sustain the wealth of what it is earning should try to distribute it by employing its population i.e. creating new jobs. As long as there are jobs in the market and people are employed, there would be stability in the society. Simultaneously a control on population growth with focus on education will make it a healthier growth. But in reality, the economies with less income are going on the loose with multiplying. It is just about time, when the population flood should overflow to the developed countries too. It will shake the income distribution on a world scale. Population increase will make the income distribution so hard, that the people who will lose out the competition might even commit suicide and in volumes!


Figure 14[ii]


Figure 15

As you see in the above graphs, the population growth in the high and middle income economies have reduced and the lower income has remained constant or rather increased a bit. This multiplication year by year has led to the situation that high income economies with 1.3 billion people i.e. 18% of population are holding to about 53% of the world GDP of $ 80 billion. Meanwhile 82% of the rest population has the share of 47% of the income. Despite this harsh share, something positive has happened over the years. The data from UN shows that the situation with extreme poverty has bettered. This is certainly a big success in terms of distribution of wealth. With increase in world income, the extra money at disposal has been put at good use with extreme poverty reducing from 1.8 billion people to 0.7 billion [iii]in 2015.


Figure 16


Figure 17

World Bank defines $ 1.9 as the limit for extreme poverty: it will be interesting to see by how much this extreme poverty situation has bettered. I’m going by the logic that if people were taken out of extreme poverty, they would land in low income or middle income categories. The graph below gives the information on how wealth is distributed in the rest of the sectors. Of the 6 billion people in the non-rich countries, 4.5 billion are in the middle and low income sector. With increasing population, this is going to be a really big challenge on how this distribution can become better. Even if income can set limits for extreme poverty, it is still not an indicator of a sustainable lifestyle. This will be one of the biggest challenges the world governments will face: to ensure income distribution and develop a sustainable lifestyle.


Figure 18

2. Threat of automation and qualification of labor:

To avoid decrease in productivity[iv] due to labor force, the first world countries are increasingly investing in automation, which will make the countries increasingly independent from human labor. To give you an idea of how much automation can impact the employments in the market, we can compare India, Germany and the United States in the agriculture sector. To work on a 10 hectare land (or 40 acres) all throughout a year, India can employ 211 people[v]. Germany, for the same size of land, utilizes more machines to plough, collect the reap etc. and employs thereby just 11 people[vi]. And our obese guy Mr. America employs just 1[vii] person for the same size of the land! The interesting fact is that the one American guy earns a salary of 34 farmers [viii]in India. The same guy in Germany earns the equivalent of 42[ix] farmers in India! With increasing corporate farming in India, the independent farmers are being displaced. Lack of support structure from the government in times of drought and other natural calamities, the lack of alternative opportunities or training for the farmer to develop alternative skills to have some mean of income, has been killing them. Every year about 15000[x] farmers commit suicide in India, most of it due to credit burden.

The message is very simple and is imminent to spread to the other sectors too. If you are not on the money bandwagon, you are likely to be pushed to commit suicide. Agriculture sector sadly is taking the first hit due to the focus on increase in productivity per person. To survive in a world heading towards automation or productivity increase, basic schooling wouldn’t be enough. Labor force is expected to be highly skilled. They will move away from physical work and will have to engage more in programming work i.e. machines will produce and maintain themselves. The new worker will be needed to just program the machines and having it set up. It is estimated that Automation will dispose up to 800 million[xi] traditional jobs by 2030. Currently the world has a total labor force of about 3.4 billion[xii] i.e. Automation is expected to affect about one in four jobs by 2030. Automation will form new jobs needing new skills, but it is hard to estimate how many of such jobs will be created.  It will certainly not be 800 million else the reduction in labor will be pointless.

Asimov’s three laws on robotics is world known. Probably it’s time to define a set of laws to restrict its usage. I would propose the following.

The three laws for using Robotics in employment sector

  1. Human assist automation or semi automation must be given precedence to full automation, as long as the EHS (Environment, Safety and Health) standards set by the government authorized body are not achievable by the former
  2. Automation may not replace a person as long as the precision needed for an unavoidable product or work function cannot be achieved manually or through semi automation
  3. Regulatory bodies and authorities must focus on increasing employments as long it does not conflict with the first and the second law

3. Quality of living: Population density and air pollution

In Asia, especially the quality of living has started to see the first impact. The India I was living in 10 years before is not the same India today. First thing I noticed when I got out to the city or especially when I rode a motorbike was how heavy and alien the air felt to the lungs: being in an Indian traffic felt as if the exhaust from the vehicle was directly flowing into my mouth. The strain and the irritation on the eye is another sign. Nothing can be more symbolic than seeing people walking on the street with their eyes and mouth covered. That is the quality of living this chapter aims at describing. In Delhi, the smog is apparently felt inside the apartments. The measurement of this is the PM2.5 air pollution. It says that regardless of the pollutant, how many harmful particles of a tiny size of 2.5 μm can be found in a space of one meter cube. The feeling what I had described above is absolutely “Red” and the graph below depicts the alarming levels world over


Figure 19[xiii]

Secondly what goes hand in hand with air pollution and the deaths connected to it is the population density. Although the west emits as much emissions into the air, the number of deaths was contrarily seen in the east. The major driver behind this cause is not just the increase in population, but also the population density resulting out of it. Especially for cities where the people are most densely accommodated, it will be a big challenge for the governments. As seen in the graph below, the current average density has increased to a bit over 58000 people per sq.km. The higher the density, the higher the impact pollution would have. It’s literally gassing the population. The overall world industrial drive is not showing signs of turning green. The west would eventually have its “red” sooner or later. By that time, their GDP would be skyrocketing as they will be trapping their air in cans and selling to China and India for $10 a bottle!


Figure 20[xiv]

To be continued: GDP 6: the second threat – Economical Choke

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[i] https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_continents_by_GDP_(nominal)

[iii] https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty

[iv] https://ourworldindata.org/employment-in-agriculture 

[v] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS

[vi] https://tradingeconomics.com/germany/agricultural-land-percent-of-land-area-wb-data.html

[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_the_United_States

[viii] https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-from-agriculture

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Germany

[x] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_India

[xi] http://fortune.com/2017/11/29/robots-automation-replace-jobs-mckinsey-report-800-million/

[xii] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.TOTL.IN/

[xiii] https://ourworldindata.org/air-pollution

[xiv] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.POP.DNST

GDP 4: The chocolate river: on how the first world is having withdrawal symptoms!

Continued from: GDP 3: Rise of consumerism

Imagine 210 houses on a long road along a river of chocolate and one house on the opposite side of the river. There was one person living in each. A truck has to supply chocolate to all the houses. The first person who gets hold of the hose was the guy in the lonely house on the other side of the river. He does not let it go and begins to fill every nook and corner of the house and drinks as much as he could before he would pass it to the houses on the other side of the river. But the truck was never passed and the guy made a clever deal that instead of passing the truck, he offered chocolate as commission to whomever who will work to maintain his house. Having the truck under his control and living far away, the first person could easily ignore any protests from other people. Seeing the truck is not coming to them, one by people tried to build their own truck to get access to the river. People who knew how to build a hose got it by themselves in the sizes they could make, but their sizes were nothing comparable to the first truck. Despite their small hose sizes, if one would throw a hose to the river, the other would protest and complain that the former is taking too much chocolate. Some said that they will not live in their own home and move to the home of the guy with a bigger hose. Some established partnerships and did teamwork to extract as much chocolate. Years went by. The person at the first house where the truck did not move becomes so obese and laggard. He could neither move to lift the hose nor carry the items to maintain the truck.

Due to his incapability, he starts to demand more work from the other people, but for the same amount of commission. With growing obesity, he even needed assistance every time if he wanted to just eat a chocolate. For extra support, he hires a person from house 11*. The guy was willing to help, but he too wanted a chocolate commission if he should help the obese guy. The obese guy accepted and lets the guy do the work. Seeing that the person 11 is working for cheap, he gives more work to this guy so that he could save more chocolate. The guy from house 11 becomes skilled overtime that on top of serving the house 1, he builds his own truck which is modern and easy to maintain. At some point Person 11 announces to the obese guy that he does not want to work anymore for him. Person 11 quitting contract made him devastated as he found it difficult to get the job done by himself. He had lost his skills, as he did not keep in touch with the work. All the time he was just watching TV, eating lots of chocolate and letting the others do the work. Now he couldn’t even move and get to his truck. Moreover his truck needed a repair as it has become old. Person 11 at a point of time decided to invite the other house mates to his house for work and for a better commission. Person 11’s modern truck got so much attention, that the other people couldn’t stop speculating on how he could have built this. Although they were happy that were promised better pay, some were questioning if the truck was just painted modern on the outside and that he is just offering to pay more to cut the work at house 1. In any case, the better pay starts to talk and one by one the housemates start to call quit with the house 1 and started to move to Person 11. Person 11 becomes rich soon. Now the obese guy is screaming from the other side of the river that person 11 is useless and that he was a better owner and he had a better truck. People turned and laughed at him, but their legs were moving towards person 11’s house*.

The United States of America is the representation of the first house and Trump is a perfect and literal representative of the obese child in the story! I don’t blame and make fun of Trump for what he is! He is simply an obvious output of such an obese economy! This does not make Obama or any other American president any good. They with a conservative mask were simply fuelling the consumerist attitude over time. Once the signs of losing the truck started to arise, it is just natural that an aggressive person, who would fight to get back the truck, would be chosen by the people. Real problem is the economic source: when it goes away, the problem reflects in terms of nationalist identity as to who really belongs to the house and who not. Dwindling resources simply ensure a fight for the remaining share. World over, this story of obesity is what the first world countries are going through now and the surge of right wings are just an indication of their withdrawal symptoms of letting the truck moving to a different house! With Trump leading the rise, the right wing party AfD is gaining so much popularity in Germany, Brazil has chosen its recent right wing president, Austria has its youngest right wing chancellor and this list is just showing signs of increasing in the west. Right winged parties does not necessarily mean that it’s doomsday. If the new party in power should insist on consumerism i.e. work for the same obese share of chocolate that they were demanding till today, they are set to fall on their face. At the time when they are obese and costly, creating jobs in the country without reducing the lifestyle will most probably backfire. As an alternative, if they should opt for a sharing or minimal economic model, than a consumerist model, they can survive. Also whether it’s a right wing or a left wing, any party taking the mantle will have the following three biggest threats to tackle.

To be continued.. GDP 5: Three biggest threats

* China was at position 11 in world GDP list in 1990’s. Now it’s at number 2. China found its chocolate source. Given the fact that it was pumping it to the limit, only time can say how long this growth can last. Resources are finite after all.

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GDP 3: Rise of consumerism

Continued from … GDP 2: Supply chain of a television, a case study

1950’s marked this beginning of Consumerism with America probably being the torch bearer! After 1 AD world GDP reached $1 trillion or $1000 billion in 1890’s i.e. it took 1890 years to reach that mark. By 1950 it had reached about $4 trillion at a growth rate of 2.65%. From then on production of goods and thereby the growth rate doubled year by year to a current world GDP of ~$80 trillion or ~$80000 billion!


Figure 11

How much money do you have?

If a country has resources in their access, if it’s government could raise the educational level and facilitate the infrastructure to produce, any country can enter themselves on the world power list very soon. The treasury of such a developing country would multiply and the per-person salary would also increase. This aspect is called GDP per capita i.e. if the GDP for a nation is divided equally to its population. The GDP per capita for the whole world is $17,300 i.e. when the world income would be equally distributed to the whole world population, this will be our earning per year. In reality, every country has its own GDP and thereby the income per person differs with the world average $17,300 too. It follows a pattern called “Pareto principle” where 20% of the nations hold on to 80% of the wealth in the world. So the GDP per capita between each country can have drastic differences. As of 2017 a Qatarian has the highest income in the world of $ 125,000 [i]per year and Central African Republic earns the least in a year with $ 681.


Figure 12

Also within each country the distribution will differ based on government structures and policies. For example: In Qatar, not everyone would equally earn $ 125,000 per year, it will follow the same Pareto principle within the country where 20% of the population would hold on to 80% wealth in the country. Apparently the richest person in Qatar is the Sheikh of Qatar [ii]himself with a worth of $ 2 billion. In a country with a GDP $167 Billion, just that one person holds on to 1.1% of the wealth. Qatar has enormous resources of oil which it is able to capitalize.

A country is lucky if it should be abundant in resources that could be capitalized. For countries who don’t have that luxury, they usually would focus on improving their education skills and offer services to the resource rich countries i.e. the income from service sector can drive such economies. Once the money source has been organized, the role of a government then is purely to facilitate the money flow within the country and ensure a sustainable distribution to each of its population i.e. not letting people suffer in poverty. Just this one factor of “sustainable distribution” is the goal which all the different kinds of economic ideologies like Capitalism, communism, fascism etc. compete for and try to achieve. Diverse governments and political parties frame their policies based on these ideologies, to make sure that the GDP per capita saves its final citizen from poverty.

Capitalism correlates mostly to the consumerist society and it goes with the assumption that there are ample jobs constantly created in the market. Whoever earns tends to survive and the role of the government would be mostly to make sure that enough jobs are available. Communism promises a better distribution among the population and the state itself might hold a significant part of the income and distribute only what is needed; Fascism is dependent mostly on the ideology and beliefs of the country’s leader, which makes it unpredictable. Although China makes a communist propaganda on the outside, the happenings in the last couple of decades seem to incline more towards capitalism.

As soon as a country would have the opportunity to tap into a resource, it would be like opening a treasure. Anyone who would touch it will start to mint money. All world politics lies on who taps the resources first. Dominant countries can play the game in a way that they gain access to resources of other nations. Poor countries would be put in a helpless situation, where they would be forced to sell their nature areas, to generate a credit. Two world events in the last decades stand proof to this fact: the American century long politics for Middle East resources and China’s hasty and strong investments and acquisitions in Africa. They have been offering so much “Flash news” over the decades that a media company can see profit just by reporting just these two happenings and the issues surrounding it. China is one such country who started facilitating its infrastructure from 1990’s and since then they were just on the roll. But why is the west afraid? Let me narrate a second story which attempts to simplify the fight for resources

To be continued…GDP 4: The chocolate river: on how the first world is having withdrawal symptoms!


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

[ii] https://www.qatarday.com/blog/information/richest-people-in-qatar/12384?pg=5

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