Thursday, January 14, 2010
Out of Control Consumerism is the Chief Threat to the Planet
All kinds of scientists and ecologists warn us every day of the doom which is set to overwhelm us and it gives me no pleasure to flag up yet another, another, related to climate change but different, which we should start be worrying about as well. A report by the World Watch Institute describes how 'consumerism' has engulfed human cultures and the world's ecosystems 'like a tsunami'. It points an accusing finger at US 'greed culture', the desperate desire of modern man to accumulate and consume as life objectives. It observes that the:
average American consumes more than his or her weight in products each day, fuelling a global culture of excess that is emerging as the biggest threat to the planet. Erik Assadourian, the project director who led a team of 35 behind the report, said: "Until we recognise that our environmental problems, from climate change to deforestation to species loss, are driven by unsustainable habits, we will not be able to solve the ecological crises that threaten to wash over civilisation."
This habit of excess began in the USA but such a culture has been exported worldwide so that every world citizen is now a potential over-consumer. Owning prestige goods like expensive cars, houses, and personal effects have become worldwide badges of success and millions now strive to achieve the same level of unsustainable ownwership of material goods.
With 6 billion inhabitants the effort to sustain this exponential growth in consumption- 28% in the last decade alone- is gouging out vast indentations in the earth's surface, polluting both air and water and fast using up the finite resources available. The report sees some encouraging signs of attitude change, especially amongst the young, but argues that consumerism and changing views can only coexist up to a point. Even climate change deniers have to accept that a fundamental change of culture worldwide has to occur if the planet is not to head down the dystopic route indicated by novels and films like The Road.
Think of the energy and raw materials which must go into producing yet another motor vehicle.
But didn't I see a posting here in support of the government's car swap scheme?
I can't remember if you did- did I? I thought I merely predicted it would be introduced, following its success in Germany. But it is a short term palliative and needs to be phased out and a new sustainable policy adopted in UK and worldwide. Faint hope of this I know but we might as well know the options were are ignoring as we sleep walk to disaster.
But we have to look at new ways of keeping jobs and being able to take a car and re use it.
The fact is the way we are going in the UK we will have no jobs and the place will be full of rich people while the poor will go hunting for work.
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