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Anthropocentric climate change is a symptom not a cause. The cause is people – too many of us, consuming too much. Essentially there are three possibilities for how this problem can be addressed. Births, deaths and what we do in-between. The first two are going in the wrong direction and appear to be largely off limits for change. Efforts are being made to increase the birth rate. These range from financial incentives for child bearing to scientific advances that extend the ability to have children to those previously excluded (eg IVF). The reverse is true with the death rate where we seek to extend lifespan and reduce the incidence of so-called premature death. That leaves us with only the in-between to work with. Unfortunately much of the momentum here is also in the wrong direction as the rich world seeks to promote its way of living and everywhere else seeks to catch up.  It is probably too much given such a context to expect people to radically change their current way of life but are there ways in which the natural resource impact of consumption can be reduced? There are glimmers of hope in some emerging changes. One concerns the ancillary aspects of a product, such as reductions in packaging. A second, perhaps more profound innovation, are modifications to the essence of the core product. There are at least three ways in which this is occurring, each of which results in less resource intensive consumption. The first involves substitution, for example moving to flesh substitutes such as BEYOND MEAT. The second emphasises image. Branded items such as Chanel handbags typically require only limited, if any, extra natural resources to produce. Yet their purchase soaks up a disproportionate increase in financial resources.  The third concerns the virtual. As with image consumption, virtual consumption, for example buying players in an online soccer game, is beneficial because it has a high financial to natural resource ratio.

 

 

 

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