eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/tr.2008.2.01

Morten Tønnessen

In this article I paint a concise portrait of world economic and population history. Key factors include the world population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The role of technology in relation to the environmental impact of economic activity is represented by an Environmental Efficiency Factor (EEF). It is asserted that any modern political theory aspiring to comprehensiveness should deal with four subject matters: The legitimate level of human interference with the rest of nature; the level of the human population; the nature and extent of the economy and technology. Past GDP growth rates combined with UN population projections result in a number of scenarios of future real GDP to the year 2300. In the course of inquiry, three measures of all time economic activity are introduced: All time world GDP per capita, accumulated world GDP and the annual growth rate of accumulated world GDP. In conclusion, I describe under what circumstances it is conceivable that the growth economy can persist for at least 300 more years. Directions of inquiry are offered to three groups: Those who want to maintain the growth economy for as long as possible; those who want world population to stay, in the long run, at a level comparable to that of today; and those who want to minimize environmental pressure.

DeLong, J. Bradford (1998) “Estimating world GDP, one million B.C. – present”. Draft paper. Berkeley, California.

Goldsmith, Edward (2001) “A question of survival”. The Ecologist Report 11, 46–47.

Kremer, Michael (1993) “Population growth and technical change, one million B.C. to 1990”. Quarterly Journal of Economics 1993, 681–716.

Maddison, Angus (1995) Monitoring the World Economy, l820–l992. Paris: OECD Development Centre.

Maddison, Angus (1998) Chinese economic performance in the long-run. Paris: OECD.

Maddison, Angus (2000) “Economic progress: the last half century in historical perspective”. In Facts and Fancies of Human Development. Canberra: Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Maddison, Angus (2003) World economy: historical statistics. Paris: OECD.

Nordhaus, William (1997) “Do real wage and output Series capture reality? The history of lighting suggests not”. In The economics of new goods. Timothy Bresnahan and Robert Gordon, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Næss, Arne (1989) Ecology, community and lifestyle. Outline of an ecosophy. Translated and edited by David Rothenberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Næss, Arne (1993) “The deep ecological movement. Some philosophical aspects”. In Environmental philosophy: from animal rights to radical ecology, 193–212 Michael Zimmermann, ed. Engle­wood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Tønnessen, Morten (2003) “Umwelt ethics”. Sign Systems Studies 31, 1, 281–299.

World population to 2300. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2004.

Back to Issue