|Waves, rocks and ice on the Lake Huron shore|
Earlier in this series (Parts 5 and 6) I looked at overpopulation and overconsumption and concluded that while both are serious problems, overpopulation is going to take decades to solve, while overconsumption could be addressed quite quickly. By reducing our level of consumption, we would reduce our impact on the planet and give ourselves time to reduce our population.
In my last post I looked at some of the unintended and negative consequences of the industrialization we’ve experienced over the last few centuries. I concluded that most of the blame for overconsumption can be laid squarely at the feet of capitalism, with its insatiable hunger to accumulate wealth, its inescapable need for endless growth, and its inability to tackle any problem that can’t be solved by making a profit. These days some people are calling capitalism a “death cult”, based on those characteristics and the fact that we live on a finite planet. I think they are quite right to do so.
Clearly, the blame for overconsumption should not fall on the supposed innate greed and materialism of individual, ordinary people. The upper classes (mainly capitalists) are superlative consumers and do a great deal of harm themselves. And their marketing efforts have turned the rest of us into pretty good consumers, too. Turn off their incessantly blaring marketing machine and things would be quite different—reducing consumption would look at lot more doable. We’d have a real chance of solving both of our major problems (overpopulation and overconsumption), getting ourselves out of overshoot and avoiding at least part of the die-off that is currently looming ahead of us.
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