Social Economic Impacts
Over Consumption: To summarize, the human population has been allowed and encouraged to over consume, use and abuse our natural resources to a point where society at large is at an epic crossroads. In other words, as a global population, we have not only become unsustainable, but are knocking on the door to our own extinction.
The cause of this phenomenon can be traced back to various decisions by world governments and controlling influences from the Powers That Be (PTB) shortly after World War II. Whether it started with a paper by Victor Lebow, a 20th century economist, entitled "Price Competition in 1955" (Journal of Retailing, Spring 1955) or he independently reflected the conclusion of the PTB, doesn’t really matter.
Lebow's paper discussed the cost of maintaining the American lifestyle in 1955, and the effect this cost had on retail profits. Lebow wrote:
“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies".
He further wrote: "These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency. We require not only “forced draft” consumption, but “expensive” consumption as well. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. The home power tools and the whole “do-it-yourself” movement are excellent examples of “expensive” consumption.”
Even the Chairman for the Council of Economic Advisors, under President Eisenhower, stated the “U.S. economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce consumer goods”. At some point along the path to economic and social recovery after WWII, the concept of conspicuous consumption was born and integrated into the U.S. and eventually, the world economies. However, it appears that no one was raising the concern or red flag over sustainability of this innovative revolution which has lead us blindly to where we are today.
From The Story of Stuff which was released in late 2007, you may begin to realize just how unsustainable our current human population is on planet Earth. In the past 30 years, we have consumed 30% of Earth’s natural resources. The worst part is that only a few of these resources, such as the forests, can even be replenished by mankind. To give some indication of the severity of this crisis, we now have only 20% of old growth forest remaining and 75% of fisheries are producing at or above capacity. The U.S., being the most abusive global consumer with only 5% of the world population, accounts for 30% of the annual worldwide consumption. And to make matters worse, were you aware that 99% of raw materials are discarded within 6 months by various means of being burned, buried, or tossed into the oceans? For more facts and information on The Story of Stuff, please view their fact sheet or the website.
A few of Earth’s natural resources such as trees and fish can be replenished, but the reality is that most of the other natural resources can never be replenished by mankind. Earth has a finite amount of oil, coal, and virtually every other resource that is used to sustain life or manufacture our consumable goods.
Recycling is the option that everyone likes to throw out as the way to save our planet and achieve sustainability, but this is only because people don’t have all the facts. The fact is that for every one can of waste that’s created by consumers, 70 cans are created by corporations. This means that consumers account for discarding only 1.4% of all natural resources that end up as waste. Unfortunately, the majority of waste that’s created by corporations and consumers is toxic or unable to be recycled.
Just for conversation, let’s consider the possibility to recycle 100% of consumer waste or in other words, the entire 1.4% of the total waste. But what they also don’t tell you is that, only about 15% of that waste is actually capable of being recycled. This means that in the best and most optimal circumstances, only .2% of consumer waste can be reused, the rest still ends up as waste. Is this shedding some light on the problem? The population has been brainwashed into believing that consumers are responsible for the problem and that all we need to do is home recycling to fix the problem. The bottom line is that unless we achieve a high enough recycling rate for corporate waste, recycling will not enable us to achieve anything except conscious awareness.
Now consider how long we have before we consume enough of Earth’s natural resources so that human life is no longer sustainable. If The Story of Stuff is accurate, we know that 30% of Earth’s natural resources have been consumed in the past 30 years. Let’s use a conservative estimate of 10% for our global consumption of natural resources in all the previous history up to 1975. Just a guess, but it would appear to be a conservative estimate. This means that we have consumed 40% of Earth’s total natural resources up to this moment in human history. No matter how you graph this data, you will generate a consumption curve that is exponential. With a little extrapolation, you would also realize that the human population is likely to consume another 30% - 40% of Earth’s remaining resources within the next 10 years. This means that sometime before the year 2020, mankind will have consumed 80% of Earth’s natural resources.
Many would probably like to assume that we have until 2020 to fix this problem, but this also assumes that we don’t run out of some essential resources before then. What happens if 100% of drinkable water, forests, or coal runs out before then?
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the only way to achieve sustainability in any environment is to consume only what can be replenished or replaced at an equal rate. Not only is our current rate of consumption unsustainable and irresponsible, but our rate of consumption over the next few years will be catastrophic and unconscionable. Does anyone really believe that with a continuously expanding world population, that our consumption rates will stabilize or actually start reversing?
The only way to reverse this spiraling abyss would not only be to halt consumption at their current levels, but we would actually need to reduce our consumption levels to those of nearly 50 years ago. And how do you accomplish that when the world population is continuing to expand out of control with more and more people are uneducated, starving, and suffering?
The Earth experience involves learning everything from conscious evolution to sustainability. Learning to replace what we have destroyed and depleted is part of this experience, but more importantly is learning how to balance our existence with nature.
Here is a quote from the movie “Matrix” that expresses man-kinds’ impact on nature and our natural resources. “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague.”
How do we move the entire world consciousness from irresponsible over consumption to responsible under consumption overnight? If you live outside the matrix and in any form of reality, then you know this is not possible while the world is controlled through greed and self-indulgence. It’s also not realistic to think that these control factors and the PTB are going to disappear and everyone else is going to achieve a sufficient level of belief and understanding overnight. As you can see, with only our patterns and addictions to over consumption and not even taking anything else into consideration, the world as we know it is unsustainable and spiraling rapidly into total catastrophic collapse.