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17 April, 2009

Overconsumption and profiting without producing are the problems

Two articles circulated by Countercurrents today focus attention on issues that the media often overlooks in discussing the environmental and economic crises that the world is facing.

One is “Consumption dwarfs population as main environmental threat” by Fred Pearce (picture on right), London-based writer and environment and development consultant. It appeared in The Guardian today.

Overconsumption, not overpopulation is driving environmental destruction, says Pearce. It is hubris to downgrade the culpability of the rich world's environmental footprint because generations of poor people not yet born might one day get to be as rich and destructive as us, he argues.

The world's population quadrupled to six billion people during the 20th century. It is still rising and may reach 9 billion by 2050. Yet for at least the past century, rising per-capita incomes have outstripped the rising head count several times over. And while incomes don't translate precisely into increased resource use and pollution, the correlation is distressingly strong.

The other article is “Profiting without producing by Marcos Arruda(left), Brazilian economist and educator and Fellow of the Transnational Institute.

The world today is wealthier than ever – and more unequal, says Arruda. Something is rotten in the kingdom of Capital. Remember first that, while investors in their millions suffer the terrors of a financial crisis, the impoverished peoples of the Earth – in their billions – endure a daily routine of chronic crisis for lack of access to goods and the means of production or to the essentials of a worthwhile human life, i.e. food, energy, pleasurable work, time to develop their potential, a decent standard of living, and social and ecological relations that are friendly, secure, gratifying and lasting.

While millions face poverty and hunger, others make fortunes without producing. A sustainable alternative to financial globalisation must be based on international cooperation and solidarity - with new indicators in place to measure well-being.

Links to the articles:

“Consumption dwarfs population as main environmental threat” by Fred Pearce

“Profiting without producing” by Marcos Arruda

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