Saturday, January 12, 2013

Post Peak Oil Economic and Population Scenarios: Part 3 Developing Asian Regions

This will finish my 9-region survey of economic and population scenarios, based upon my PIE analysis of consumption and import/export trends analysis presented in my previous series. 
Part 1 presented the scenarios for the four net petroleum exporter regions and Part 2 presented the scenarios for the developed regions of North America, Europe and Japan.  In this post I present scenarios for China and the remaining Asia Pacific region.
Economic and Population Trends for the Net Petroleum Importing Developing Asia Regions
China (CH)
Figure 15 shows the population change trend for CH.
 As you can see CH’s population growth trend has had two steep periods of decline and two flat-to-slightly increasing periods.  From the late 1960s to 1980, the growth rate dropped steeply from about +2.9 %/y to + 1.3 %/y.  This was followed by decade of slow growth through the 1980s, back up to +1.8 %/y by 1989.  Then the growth rate declined steeply again for a decade to +0.6 %/y by 2000.  Since then, the growth rate has been flat at about +0.5 %/y.  The US census bureau, however, predicts continued declines, such that population growth stops in 2027, and goes negative thereafter.  My extrapolation of the census bureau’s trend gives a population change of -0.75 by 2065.
The right hand side axis in Figure 16 shows the actual population (blue squares) and predicted population (dark blue line) based on the population growth trend shown in Figure 15.
CH’s population is predicted to top out at about 1.4 billion in 2026—that’s an increase of another 60 million people from the 2011 population of 1.34 billion. 
The left hand side axis in Figure 16 shows the calculated per capita petroleum consumption rate (red circles), and, my predicted per capita consumption rate for CH going forward (solid red curve).
Despite the near doubling in population since 1965 (e.g., from 0.72 to 1.34 billion) CH’s per capita petroleum consumption has grown even faster from paltry 0.15 b/py in the 1960s to 2.7 b/py in 2011.    However, I am predicting that this growth in per capita consumption will rapidly slow down and peak in 2016 at 2.8 b/py.  The predicted trend of continued population growth of +0.5 to 0.4 %/y and peaking petroleum consumption both contribute to this prediction. 

As shown in Part 9 of my previous series, CH's domestic petroleum production is predicted to increase slightly but import of petroleum are predicted to decline after about 2018 mainly because of predicted declines in exports from the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and regions after 2017 and 2022, respectively,  and to lesser extents, declining exports from Africa and the remaining Asia Pacific regions.  Moreover, there is slow trend of increasing petroleum exports from CH to other regions, in particular to the remaining Asia Pacific region and South America. 
Overall then, the trend of increasing domestic product doesn’t make up for the declining import rate and increasing export rate, and therefore domestic petroleum consumption peaks out around 2019.  The continuing growth in population causes CH’s per capita consumption to peak a little early than that in 2016.  Still, the per capita consumption after 2016 is predicted to remain fairly flat for a decade before declining more rapidly, when the Middle East exports to CH start declining more rapidly.
For instance, from the solid red curve in Figure 16, from 2011 to 2020, CH’s per capita petroleum consumption is predicted to change from 2.57 to 2.76 b/py.  Only an 8% increase, or +.88 %/y, but this is still a positive increase, which is more than we can say for NA, EU and JP for this period, which are in the range of -3 to -5 %/y.
From 2020 to 2040, the per capita consumption rate is predicted to decline, from 2.76  to 2.02 b/py—a 27% drop or -1.3%/y.  That is still substantially less of a decline rate than estimated for NA (2.3 %/y), EU (-3.6 %/y) or JP (-4.8 %/y) over this same period.  Of course, these three regions all have had much higher per capita consumption rates that CH presently and so they have higher heights to fall from than CH does. 
I find it interesting that JP and EU are predicted to drop below 2 b/py in 2030 and 2032, respectively, whereas CH is not predicted to do the same until about decade later in 2041.  It is interesting to think of CH having a greater per capita consumption of petroleum than EU and JP after about 2030, and, of what that implies for the relative sizes of the economies of these regions going forwards.  In contrast, NA is still predicted to have a per capita consumption rate of 9 b/y in 2030, and to be still above 4 b/py by the end of my study period in 2065. 
By 2065, CH’s per capita consumption rate is down from 2040 levels to 1.5 b/py—another 25 % drop in 25 years compared to 2040 or -1 %/y.    Still, 1.5 b/py is well above my predicted threshold rate, of 1 b/py, for starvation and population decline, and therefore I do not expect CH to have any dramatic population declines within my study period.
Remaining Asia-Pacific (rAP)
Figure 17 shows the population change trend for rAP.
Like CH, rAP’s population growth trend is in decline, but at a slower and more uniform rate than CH’s. 

For instance, in the late 1960, rAP’s population growth rate was +2.3 %/y and in 2011 it is still +1.3 %/y, that is, more than double CH’s present population growth rate of +0.5 %/y. 
The census bureau data predicts that rAP’s long, slow, decline trend will continue, and if it did, then a little past my study period, in about 2070, the growth rate would finally hit zero. 
The right hand side axis in Figure 18 shows the actual population (blue squares) and predicted population (dark blue line) based on the population growth trend shown in Figure 17.
The solid line blue line illustrates rAP’s still growing population in 2065, predicted to be about 3.4 billion people.  After peaking in 2070, the population would decline thereafter.  According to this projection then, by 2065, the rAP region would add another 1 billion people on top of its present 2.4 billion population. 
The left hand side axis in Figure 12 shows the calculated per capita petroleum consumption rate (red circles), and, my predicted per capita consumption rate for rAP going forward (solid red curve).
Despite rAP’s population more than doubling since 1965, like CH, its per capita petroleum consumption rate has increased even faster, from 0.5 to 2.2 b/py by 2011.  The per capita consumption for the last few years has over-shot my prediction of a downturn after 2007.  I suspect that rAP’s import rate trend has recently accelerated compared to my 10 year linear regression analysis of this trend, but that is a story for a different day.  
My reasons for predicting a downturn in per capita consumption are similar to that given for CH, but, even more so: as shown in Part 10 of my previous series, rAP’s domestic production rate appears to have peaked several years ago and is in decline; petroleum import rates from other regions to rAP are predicted to decline after 2013, mainly due to falling imports from ME, and rAP’s export rate is not predicted to peak and decline until after 2013.  These factors, plus rAP’s ongoing population growth rate of +1.3 %/y, all point to the imminent peak and decline in the per capita petroleum consumption rate.  Maybe this decline can be forestalled by increasing imports and/or cutting exports, but for now, let’s just go with implication from the longer term trends determined from my previous study.   
From the red prediction curve in Figure 18, rAPs per capita consumption is projected to decline from 2.02 b/py in 2011 to 1.62 b/py in 2020—a 20% drop or -2.2 %/y.  That is not as good as CH’s positive growth of +0.9 %/y, but still better than NA, EU and JP’s negative declines of -3 to -5 %/y, over this period. 
But, from 2020 to 2040, rAP’s per capita consumption is predicted to further decline from 1.62  to 0.54 b/py; a 67% decrease, or -3.3 % y/p.  As an annual percent decline, that is just slightly better than predicted for EU (-3.3 %/y) over this same period.  And, from 2040 to 2065 consumption drops to 0.17 b/py—another 68% drop, or, -2.7 %/y. 
By now, if you have been following this series, you will know that I believe that, at these low per capita consumption rates, rAP will have more to worry about than economic decline.  From the red curve in Figure 18, in 2031, rAP drops below my 1 b/py threshold for starvation and population decline.  Notice that this is just a few years earlier than 2034, the year when JP is predicted to drop below 1 b/py and encounter its own issues of starvation and population decline, as discussed in Part 2 of this series.
Consequently, I predict that rAP’s population will rapidly decline from 2031 and on, so as to keep its per capita consumption at 1 b/py.  Within my study period, rAP never reaches its estimated pre-petroleum 1900 population level of 463 million, but, at 570 million in 2065, it comes close.  Given that rAP's population is estimated to equal 2.9 billion in 2030, this would correspond to a population decline of 2.4 billion people over the 35 year period from 2030 to 2065. 
Once again I wonder, how tempting would oil in the East China Sea, if present in large quantities, look to the nearby neighbors in rAP around 2031, to avoid such population declines?
Final thoughts
Of course, if the disaster presented above for rAP occurs, it would, by far, be the greatest magnitude of human loss and suffering in the history of mankind. 
This would eclipse the starvation and population decline of 1 billion I predicted for AF and FS by 2026, or the 67 million population decline in JP predicted to start a few years later in about 2033. 
All told then, we are looking at population declines for the four regions of rAP, AF, FS and JP totaling about 3.4 billion people by the end of my study period in 2065.
Certainly at least these fours regions will have very strong motive to take action to mitigate, or at least delay, these catastrophic population declines and human suffering.  Next time, I will consider some likely mitigation options and their repercussions on the other five regions. 


  1. Yes but as you can see, the rAP population was still growning in the 60's without even reaching the 1bpy threshold, and I think there are not addicted like us to oil.
    So I think your prediction for rAP overly pessimistic considered they can live without 1bpy already for most of this population.

  2. Hi Yoananda

    Here is the way I think about the relationship between per capita petroleum consumption and population growth for rAP, or any of the other regions, for that matter.

    As each region transitioned to the so-called green revolution methodology for food production, as made possible in part by increased petroleum consumption, it became possible to grow more food more rapidly than ever before. Keep in mind that 1 barrel of oil has the energy equivalent of something like 10 humans working 40 hours week for a year, and you would still have to feed cloth and house your 10 slaves.

    The mechanization of food production put millions of farm workers out of work and into the cities, where they became factory workers, and their children, or children’s children, forgot how to grow food the old-fashioned way. Moreover, the remaining mechanized farms become larger and highly specialized, often growing only one crop, or one type of livestock, which then had to be shipped 100s or 1000s of miles for processing and redistribution.

    For some regions, like NA, JP, EU, and maybe also FS, that transition is so complete for decades that today only a few percent of the labour force works on farms, and an even smaller fraction of the population owns a farm.

    From the 1960 to the present, there has been a massive migration out of rural areas and into the cites for regions like rAP, CH, SA and AF, and, along with that migration, an increasing dependence on a petroleum-driven food production system.

    So, if the per capita petroleum petroleum consumption rate of rAP were to now drop below 1 b/py, would all those migrants be able, or allowed, to go back to the farm and grow food again? Call me pessimistic, but I don’t that think a transition back to traditional non-mechanized food production would be fast enough to avoid mass starvation.

    Would rAP’s population decline all the way back to the year 1900 levels, or farther?
    I don’t know, it still seems like a reasonable assumption, but, the exact fall-back doesn’t matter to me too much.

    Take rAP’s 1960 population of about 900 million as the fall-back limit, if you want; that’s still about 1.6 billion less than today.

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