How many Earths will we consume before the real one collapses?

We are hurtling (literally!) towards posher, more instantaneous, always-on uber-urban living at the cost of our benign, and thus far supportive, environment.

If, and chances of which are at least 50%, if not more, this urbanization goes unorganized (read about urbanization here), we run into our biggest challenge of severe ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY STRESS.

Before the equation, it is pertinent to bring to notice that the ambitious UN Development Program’ (UNDP) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda 2030 is not doing too well – as of FY 2019, every country of the 193 signatories has missed targets in at least 50% of the 17 SDGs, and one in four countries have missed all 17 SDG targets!

Now let’s try to understand what that means…

Sustainability (In)Equation (this is a scary one, of all 5 megatrend equations)


3-Earth equivalent resources and energy needed to sustain 9 billion of us in 2050

= 90 billion tons of raw material consumed

= 87% rise in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from global agriculture alone

= ~60% more energy needed

= 70% rise in solid waste generated

= 3-4 billion people living in “extreme” food and water scarce areas

= At a minimum USD 1.7 trillion needed to fix it today

= Life and liveability?


Opportunities: Smart agriculture giving higher yield with lower emissions, smart resource management and integrated alternatives, and waste recycling or end-of-life management

Technology at play: Robotic waste segregation, IoT for sensing and predictions, Agritech, clean energy and alternatives integrated into automated grids, technology to manage ‘black swans’, returns and waste traceability and reutilization

While a single report is not adequate to throw light on this challenge, a more detailed perspective can be found in “Megatrends Shaping Future Tech Opportunities”.

 For more on technology industry outlook and emerging technologies in 2020 and beyond, read our research onTechnology Sector in India 2020 – Techade the New Decade.

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