Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Effects of Excess Consumption

When people's income rise, they consume more; oftentimes they consume in excess and they become wasteful of our finite natural resources.  In an article written by Daly et al (2007), the authors emphasize the economic problem of growing human population and the resulting scale of economic activity as paramount factors that will determine if sustainability can be achievable.

Daly et al argue that the marginal costs of resource consumption continues to rise while the marginal benefits from extra population and production continues to decline.  For Daly et al, the most important questions become: is full scale production too enormous comparative to the physical environment even if efficient allocation between the ultimate uses of investment and consumption takes place? Are we investing and consuming in excess?  They stress that the physical environment is not capable of sustaining the growing human population and its associated growing production and consumption activity at greater magnitudes; moreover, they argue that the current pace of population growth and the increase in economic activity can only jeopardize the standard of living of future generations.  According to Daly et al, no similar satisfaction can be handed down to future generations when environmental degradation is taking place as the result of resource exploitation, depletion of non-recoverable resources, a loss of biodiversity, and a reduction in the quality of ecosystems vital to the survival of future generations.  They argue that offsetting consumption with increased investment is not an efficient solution to solve environmental problems because such an approach only places a greater stress on environmental resources.  Daly et al argue that environmental resources are a constraints to our survival and a lot more effort has to be put for the preservation of the tangible world of biodiversity, matter, entropy, energy, as well as the generative ability of ecosystems.

We can do our part to protect the environment by becoming less wasteful of our natural resources, recycling more, conserving water, driving smaller cars, carpooling to work, using public transportation.  If you would like to learn more about how to pollute less and become less wasteful of natural resources, click on the links below.




Daly et al. "Are We Consuming Too Much: For What?"
Conservation Biology Volume 21, No. 5, 2007 1359–1362

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