Can consumption be sustainable if “More is Better”?

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What is the recipe for prosperity? What is essential for development and growth? Unbelievable though it may sound, the answer is consumption. Not consumption in general, but only sustainable consumption within overall limits imposed by nature. This type of consumption can bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

The industrial revolution gave rise to modern capitalism and greatly expanded the possibilities for material development of humankind. Yet, the price was severe. The environment has been destroyed – natural capital, on which civilization depends to create economic prosperity, is rapidly declining. The rate of loss is increasing proportionate to gains in material well-being. We have to bear in mind that infinite growth of consumption in a finite world is an impossibility.

The Earth is in danger because of unsustainable consumption.

The Earth is in danger because of unsustainable consumption.

What is the main reason?Agenda 21 states that: the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production in industrialized countries. 85 percent of all consumption in world is done by the top 20 percent of the world’s rich. The wide gap in consumption between the rich and poor is already taking its toll both on individuals and global resources: it perpetuates poverty and degrades the environment. The current ecological crisis will worsen dramatically as the “more is better” definition of the American dream spreads throughout the globe. We will need to redefine this “more is better” ethic, because relentless growth in consumption, energy use, waste, and emissions may be disastrous. That is why the first step to ensuring prosperity in the poor South is rolling back consumption levels in the rich North.

According to Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, a Sri Lankan physicist and economist, Millennium Consumption Goals set for the rich are essential to complement the Millennium Development Goals set for the poor. What are the goals? You may discover it tomorrow – Student Reporter team will provide you with the impressions of Prof. Mohan Munasinghe speech at the World Resources Forum 2011 in Davos.

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