The Atlantic Project Presents: Do We Consume Too Much?
By a Group of Atlantic Project Bloggers
Ten: If there ever was a more poignant week for The Atlantic Monthly to ask this question it is this one. I think the events of the last few weeks in the world's financial markets only underscore the conclusion of the original piece: in a broad sense, one with repercussions far beyond the impact on the natural world, excessive consumption can have a kind of soul-destroying and sense-warping effect on people. When we become all about consumption-more, more, more; bigger, bigger, bigger; more expensive, more expensive, more expensive-we lose our way as individuals and as societies.
Nine. Oh, I guess you need money to be an over-consumer ... um, so back to money being the root of all evil. Well, in the U.S., I think you can be an over-consumer WITHOUT money. To parody the famous Beatles song, "All you need is CREDIT."
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Eight. My mother often talks about the positive aspects of growing up in the depths of the Depression. The sense of appreciation of small and simple things. The inclination to thrift and self-responsibility. The awareness of the significance of large events to individuals' lives. Not to be too Pollyanna-ish, but perhaps this downturn can have some of the same effects on us.
Seven. Perhaps macro changes are on the way through generational effects, when enough people who have been raised in the morals of sustainable ecologies move into influential positions. Electing Barack Obama as president is an excellent first step. One can tell that he has the right sorts of attitudes and beliefs that are open to policy changes for our moral betterment, rather than on strict basis of cost/benefit.
Six. Yes - people consume too much. That's the whole problem with everything. The root of all evil isn't money - it's over consumption.
Five. Do we consume too much? Yes. Is it programmed into us by marketing firms around the world to consume too much... Yes. As the sheep we are we are told that a lot of everything is good for us by someone in a high rise on Madison Avenue. As sheep we willingly follow their words without question. Except for me, of course. I just consume everything because I want to. So there.
Four. Funny though, has framing the problem on individual level changed anything on a macro level? I think not yet. No critical mass exists (does it?) for greater reliance on importing goods produced in their natural habitats, such as the author suggests could happen with growing more wheat in the northern hemisphere - the U.S.- and allowing the southern hemisphere to become a global supplier of crops suitable to tropical climes, such as coffee, cocoa and palm oil.
Three. Is this TOO MORAL for us to expect of a free market economy, now global, based as it is on self-interest? Yes. Now excuse me while i go to McDonald's.
Two. The environmental movement has always belonged to the affluent. If wealth is concentrated in one-fifth of the world's population (or whatever the stat is), that leaves the rest of the people to drive the economy - those who are guided more by self-interest than moral considerations.
One. Absolutely. It seems to me that once upon a time, when the means of distribution of products were poor, we had to create most of our own goods. With the means of production and distribution being as efficient as they are today, fewer people need engage in creation. We as a species struggled for centuries to be free of toil, and sure enough, old school toil is now a luxury for quirky arts students
Zero. Personally, I believe that creation (and not just in the artistic sense) is one of the most effective means we have for providing ourselves with a sense of fulfillment in our lives, and consumption has destroyed it in much of the population.