Shopping Our Way To Disaster – Connecting the Dots

amazon-desert-chainsawBy Stephen Leahy

It’s well past time that people began to connect the dots between what they buy and the resulting environmental impacts such as global warming. In other words, consumption has consequences: big, nasty environmental consequences that inflict suffering mainly on the world’s poor experts say.

(IPS) (Originally published Jan 15 2007)

A Chinese-made $50 computer desk is likely the result of illegal clear-cutting in Indonesian rainforests. Buying such items fuels crime syndicates and emits huge amounts of global warming gases.

That North Americans, and to a lesser extent Europeans, are profligate consumers is well known. If everyone consumed like North Americans we’d need five planets to support us — only three planets are necessary if we all lived like Europeans, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report.

The world collectively overshot the Earth’s capacity to support us in 1984, the report notes. In the 22 years since reaching that crucial tipping point, rates of consumption of resources have accelerated. Not just in North America and Europe but China and India, not to mention other parts of Asia and Latin America.

While this ever-accelerating consumption of resources the sign of a healthy global economy according to economists, it has also resulted in climate change, amongst many other environmental and social ills.

People don’t appreciate that their purchases have real environmental impacts,” said Monique Tilford, acting executive director of the Centre for a New American Dream (CNAD), a Maryland group promoting environmentally and socially responsible consumption. Continue reading