Thursday, April 26, 2007

The problem with overconsumption

The problem with overconsumption is the overuse of global resources NOT local products. There is only so much resource the Planet can afford for a person. That amount is a zero sum (what goes in should come out) and the Planet is pretty unapologetic about that. Presently we are overeating that amount by an unhealthy margin. There is little offering solace for change.

The area needed to support one person including aquaculture, mining, agriculture and energy generation is called a per capita global hectare. It has been calculated and the figures are not pretty. Equally spread accross countries our Earth can afford 1.8 hectare per person. Presently we are using 2.2 per capita - that is 122% of all available global resources. And we cannot stretch the Planet to make it 22 percent bigger just to fit.

Now let's put that into perspective ...

If you are eating more than your body can burn - recycle it in the form of useful energy - you go fat. Then is a good idea to lose weight. But what if you that frequently. Well, the bad news is that if you can't sustain weight loss, you are going to consume EVEN MORE global resources. You will frequently spend your hard earn money for EXTRA the global resources that go into your weight loss package. It's that simple even though the calculations I imagine would be quite complex.

Similarly, if we were to go off oil globally and change to ethanol this in itself could be a poor result. Why? Because the impact on global resource consumption could actually INCREASE. Because we would need to grow immense amount of canola and other crop additionally to what we already consume just to burn it for getting from A to B. Don't get me wrong. I do think we need to use less oil. That would definitely impact LESS our global resources - no one argues that. But we would need to take that reduced usage state and convert it into someting else with similarly REDUCED loads on global resources My hunch is that if the amount of cars used keep increasing - which is likely given that the largest economies are predicted to double in the foreseeable future - then the amount of global resources consumed per capita is on the increase.

Positive growth and increase in consumption ...

Currently we measure growth with the increase of consumption. If consumption grows most economists are happy as Larry. They look at a basket of stuff we consume and they measure positive changes. By the way, in that basket cars figure prominently. And it is not likely to change any time soon.

Keep that unchanged and the planet may keep going to be overconsumed. If we just get drunk on food and fuel - and it doesn't really matter if that food or fuel is designed to trim - overconsumption is here to stay.

If your belly grows when you want to trim it you register that as a negative change. Similarly, some growth should count negative if it goes into overconsumption. So even though there would be so and so much more cars produced a portion of it should count as a negative growth, not positive.

Change your life-style - so you can GET a life ...

Now there is a good thing to be learnt from diet designers' pitch.
They all talk about the need of life-style change. Change your life so you can GET a life, the chant goes.

Actually, same should go for the Planet WITH US INCLUDED.

Change your lifestyle to GIVE life to the Planet first - and we'll all get a life BACK.

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