20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of its resources

A minority of the world’s population (20%) consume most of the world’s energy resources (80%), leaving almost 5 billion people to live on the remaining 20%. In order for the rich class to live at the standard it does, the majority have to go without… And this is one of the major (if not the major) causes of world property, albeit one that is largely ignored, unknown or denied.

‘The plain fact is that we are starving people, not deliberately in the sense that we want them to die, but wilfully in the sense  that we prefer their death to our own inconvenience.” – Victor Gollancz

As a consequence, billions of people are living without the very basic necessities of life – food, water, housing and sanitation. Specifically, 1.2 billion (20%) of the world population now lives on less that $1/day, another 1.8 billion (30%) lives on less than $2/day, 800 million go to bed hungry every day, and 30,000 – 60,000 die each day from hunger alone. The story is the same, when it comes to other necessities like water, housing, education etc.

As an example, the United States, which has 6% of the world’s population, uses 30% of the world’s energy supply.

Due to this, 20% of the worlds population, (in other words its wealthy consumer class), is responsible for over 50% of its ‘greenhouse effect’ atmospheric pollutants, 90% of its ozone-depleting CFC gases, 96% of its radioactive waste… and so on.

The image below is from a 1989 UNDP report (a bit old). It shows the unequal distribution of world income and illustrates why 3 billion people on this planet have no recourse to the very basic necessities of life.


This difference between classes can be observed in Sao Paulo, where children play in their favela (shanty town), overlooked by rich apartment blocks. The urban rich and poor live close together in the major cities in Brazil.

Brazil - Sao Paulo - rich and poor live close together in Sao Paulo.

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