Saturday, 5 January 2008

The dizzying effects of mass consumption

Check out this great opinion piece in the New York Times by the man who brought you the fantastic book Guns, Germs, and Steel (read it!), Jared Diamond. It is about consumption. It will appeal to anyone interested in environmental matters, the rise of the developing world (especially China), and the wastefulness of the developed world (especially the United States).

The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.
If India as well as China were to catch up, world consumption rates would triple. If the whole developing world were suddenly to catch up, world rates would increase elevenfold. It would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people (retaining present consumption rates).

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