"If the levels of consumption that several hundred million of the most affluent people enjoy today were replicated across even half of the roughly 9 billion people projected to be on the planet in 2050, the impact on our water supply, air quality, forests, climate, biological diversity, and human health would be severe" (WWI 2004).
Consumption—or rather over consumption, consuming beyond our basic needs and wants—is inexorably the impetus of many other environmental problems. The constant demand for new goods, whether it is cars, TVs, computers, MP3 players, clothes, accessories, cell phones, PDAs, fast food and overly processed and packaged food, traveling, bigger homes, etc. creates a continuous demand for raw resources and consequently the exploitation of our environment to obtain and transform these resources. Additionally, many of the goods we demand are becoming more and more disposable which is increasing the amount of goods entering the waste stream—landfills are inundated with the remnants of our throwaway lifestyles. Furthermore, the extraction of resources, the manufacturing of the products, the transportation of the products to distributors, and the disposal of the goods at their end-of-life all require energy, which, for most consumer societies, is primarily coming from fossil fuels.
As societies around the world become more affluent, the demand for goods will only increase and will continue to threaten the sustainability of our planet unless a fundamental shift in our systems of production and consumption occurs.
This podcast with Dr. Luz Claudio of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York was produced by Ashley Ahearn*. It appeared first in Environmental Health...
Population-environment theory and contemporary applicationsLast Updated on 2014-07-07 16:34:21Introduction
Humans have sought to understand the relationship between population dynamics and the environment since the earliest times (1-3), but it was Thomas Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798 that is credited with launching the study of population and resources as a scientific topic of inquiry. Malthus’ famous hypothesis was that population numbers tend to grow exponentially while food production grows linearly, never quite keeping pace with population and thus resulting in natural “checks” (such as famine) to further growth. Although the subject was periodically taken up again in the ensuring decades, it wasn’t until the 1960s that significant research interest was rekindled. In 1963 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published The Growth of World Population, a report that reflected scientific concern about the consequences of... More »
Public Health Statement for Carbon DisulfideLast Updated on 2013-09-30 01:01:30This article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by EoE editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the EoE.
This Public Health Statement is the summary chapter from the Toxicological Profile for carbon disulfide. It is one in a series of Public Health Statements about hazardous substances and their health effects. A shorter version, the ToxFAQs™, is also available. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737.
This public health statement tells you about carbon disulfide and the effects of... More »
Public Health Statement for Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)Last Updated on 2013-09-22 23:32:13This article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by EoE editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the EoE.
This Public Health Statement is the summary chapter from the Toxicological Profile for Polybrominated Biphenyls and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBBs and PBDEs). It is one in a series of Public Health Statements about hazardous substances and their health effects. A shorter version, the ToxFAQs™, is also available. Also, a Public Health Statement and ToxFAQs™ for PBBs is available. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are... More »
Africa collection: PopulationLast Updated on 2013-09-03 12:19:22
Human well-being and livelihoods in Africa
Empowering people and institutions in Africa: institutional and governance interlinkages
Return to the Africa Collection
Land use profile of ChinaLast Updated on 2013-08-25 16:46:51
The story of land use in China over the last century is as dramatic as the tale of the country's radical economic transformation. Endless acres of rural lands, that just a few decades ago were farmed by peasant collectives as part of Mao Zedong's massive agricultural campaigns, today host brand new condominium developments, as China's cities rapidly fan out past their existing boundaries. Giant factories dot the countryside in even the most remote provinces and manufacture all sorts of goods for export into the international market. In many ways, this process of shifting landscapes indicates an accumulation of wealth in regions that still suffer considerably from high poverty rates.
The human cost of the rural construction boom can often be measured in the number of displaced peasant families, who typically have little recourse to prevent the repurposing of their... More »
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