(NaturalNews) The world is doomed to environmental catastrophe unless the threat posed by U.S. consumption culture is directly addressed, warns the Worldwatch Institute's annual report.
"Until we recognise that our environmental problems, from climate change to deforestation to species loss, are driven by unsustainable habits, we will not be able to solve the ecological crises that threaten to wash over civilization," said project director Erik Assadourian.
The report, produced by a team of 35 researchers, notes that the average U.S. resident consumes more than his or her weight in products every single day. The average family in a Western nation spends more money on its pet in one year than a human being in Bangladesh does on all his or her expenses.
Such consumption habits are spreading around the globe at a frightening pace, the report notes. China has now surpassed the United States as the world's biggest market for personal automobiles, while excess has become a mark of cultural status in countries as far-flung as Brazil and India. Global consumption of goods and services has increased 28 percent in the last 10 years alone, to a whopping $30.5 trillion.
The report refutes the claim that increased consumption is a natural result of economic growth, noting that corporations have deliberately sought to convince consumers to purchase resource-intensive but unnecessary products. It cites the worldwide popularity of bottled water and hamburgers, the latter of which was considered an undesireable food in the early 1900s.
Without addressing the worldwide culture of consumption, policy changes can only go so far to avert global catastrophe, the report warns.
"We've seen some encouraging efforts to combat the world's climate crisis in the past few years," Assadourian said. "But making policy and technology changes while keeping cultures centred on consumerism and growth can only go so far. If we don't shift our very culture there will be new crises we have to face."