Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/614

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
594
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"with a good prospect of all surplus being wiped out by October, 1888." The price of fair refining sugar (in bond, which represents the world's prices) has accordingly advanced from 2·371/2 cents per pound in July, 1887, to 3·22 in January, 1888.

The production of very few articles has increased in recent years in a ratio so disproportionate to any increase of the world's population as that of iron, and prices of some standard varieties have touched a lower range than were ever before known. Gloomy apprehensions have accordingly been entertained respecting continued overproduction, and its disastrous influence in the future on the involved capital and labor. To comprehend, however, the possibilities for this industry in the future, it is only necessary to have in mind that in 1882 (and the proportions have not probably since varied) the population of the United States and of Europe (398,333,750), comprising less than one fourth of the total population of the world (1,424,686,000), consumed nineteen twentieths of the whole annual production of iron and steel; and that if the population of the world outside of Europe and the United States should increase its annual per capita consumption of iron (which is not now probably in excess of two pounds) to only one half of the average annual per capita consumption of the people of a country as low down in civilization as Russia, the annual demand upon the existing producing capacity of iron would be at once increased to the extent of over six million tons. And, when it is further remembered that civilization is rapidly advancing in many countries, like India, where the present annual consumption of iron per head is very small (2·4 pounds), and that civilization can not progress to any great extent "without the extensive use of iron, the possibilities for the enormous extension of the iron industry in the future, and the enlarged sphere of employment of capital and labor in connection therewith, make themselves evident.[1]

As constituting a further contribution to the study of the so-called

  1. According to a table presented to the British Iron Trade Association by Mr. Jeans in 1882, and subsequently incorporated in a report submitted by Sir Lowthian Bell to the British Commission "On the Depression of Trade" in 1885 (and from which the above data have been derived), the total consumption of iron in the above year was 20,567,746 tons. Of this aggregate, the United States and the several countries of Europe, with a population at that time of 398,333,750, consumed 19,057,963 tons; the following five countries, namely, the United States, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium, with a population of 174,506,935, consuming 16,259,514 tons. The aggregate consumption of iron by the population of all the other countries of the world at that time (assumed to be 1,026,538,820) was estimated at 1,509,783 tons, or, deducting the consumption of the population of the British possessions other than in India (as Australia, etc.), at only 888,298 tons, or 1·96 pound per head per annum. The annual per capita consumption of different countries in 1882 was reported as follows: The United Kingdom, 287 pounds; the United States, 270 pounds; Belgium, 238 pounds; France, 149 pounds; Germany, 123 pounds; Sweden and Norway, 77 pounds; Austrian territories, 37 pounds; Russia, 24·6 pounds; South America and the islands, 13·5 pounds; Egypt, 7·5 pounds: India, 2·4 pounds.