Population vs. Pollution Measures

Many try to claim that the US over-consumes energy and is the worst polluter, by using per capita measures. These are  false claims because the US has a very low population density. The ability of the environment to support people is best approximated by land area. The impact of resource extraction and waste must be re-absorbed by land and ecosystem area. Hence the best measure is pollution per area of dominion.


Measures such as pollution or CO2 emission per capita are supposed to give an egalitarian estimate of sharing the worlds resources. They put the US in a bad light as an Earth abuser.  However, if population density and growth rate of these measures are taken into account, the US fares much better.

Most countries are seriously overpopulated and cannot claim status by low per capita measures. They are wasting Earth resources with too many people. The US is way below the world average population density. Many countries are seriously over-populated (India 368 persons/sq km, China 138, Indonesia 128, EU 115, world average 43, USA 31 (2004 UN World Prospects Report).


Country  Pop. Density Population  Land Area
India 368.4/sq km  1,095,351,995 2,973,190 sq km
China 137.7/sq km   1,321,851,888     9,596,960 sq km
Indonesia 127.9/sq km 245,452,739    1,919,440 sq km
EU 115.0/sq km 497,198,740    4,324,782 sq km
USA 31.3/sq km 301,139,947   9,631,418 sq km
World Average 43 / sq km 6,600,000,000 150,000,000 sq km

The growth rate of pollution and CO2 emissions for China and India is accelerating As they strive for the basic quality of life that our poor already have, their over-population is driving pollution and CO2 emissions rocketing past us and will totally dominate world pollution and CO2 emission.

Countries should be compared based on pollution and CO2 emission per land area to avoid giving undue credit for over-population. If some countries insist on over-population, they should accept a lower standard of living unless they are able to compensate with technology.

For current measures see: