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BNELIT - Datenbank zu Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wissenschaftliche Literatur und Materialien
Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wiss. Literatur und Materialien (BNELIT)
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Consumption in relation to population, environment and development.
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Consumption is defined as the total spending on goods, investments, and services that changes materials and energy and reduces availability of natural resources for the future. The rich consume on a grand scale, but marginal consumption by large numbers of poor people can also deplete nonrenewable resources. This article discusses the complex relationships between consumption and population and between these two factors and environment and development. Consumption of natural resources since the mid-1900s has surpassed consumption prior to that time. The richest 20% of the global population have doubled their per capita consumption of energy, meat, timber, steel, and copper and have quadrupled the number of cars owned since 1950. The poorest 20% barely increased their per capita consumption. 40% of the total world population accounts for 6.5% of the world′s income. The US, with under 5% of world population, consumes about 30% of the resources. The US standard of consumption is the desired ideal in many countries, but this standard is not justified. A low projected global population of 6 billion population would increase consumption by 8.4 times. Food and energy examples are used to illustrate the resource impact. Policy must move toward sustainable consumption and meet needs differently, develop environmentally friendly goods and services, and change the nature and extent of consumption. Policy must internalize externalities, eliminate perverse subsidies, calculate the ecological impact, promote efficiency and sufficiency, mobilize the media, and set "best practices" examples. Science also has responsibilities. The future rests with decisions about how to design a better system or a default option until failures in ecological and social systems appear. Life styles should emphasize nonmaterial satisfactions. The ratio of poor to rich is 60:1, which is unacceptable. Rich citizens will eventually need to pay the price of a change in their philosophies.