The China Syndrome

The “Wedge of Wood” (right) was created to highlight the fact that wood consumption is relative to population growth and standards of living. With an increasing population and improved standard of living the growth of wood consumption would increase. When it was created the wedge was designed to highlight the average daily consumption per person of the worlds population (in volume terms 1.8 litres or approx. 4 pounds). Half is used as fuel and half is used industrially.

Wealthier countries consume approximately three times the average whereas so called third world countries consume only a small proportion. The average Chinese person uses seventeen times less wood than a person in the US. With the emergence of China as an economic power house, China’s consumption is increasing and raises the question as to the ability of the world to supply China’s appetite for wood. China, with a population in excess of 1 billion people, has currently an economic growth rate of 9% (NZ is 2.5%). This economic growth is improving the populations standard of living and thus increasing the average daily consumption of wood per person.

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