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Over-Consumption and the Ecological Crisis

According to a 2011 survey by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, titled, “The Great Green Technological Transformation,” [58] progress has enabled us to raise the standard of living of the world population. However, at the same time it has damaged the environment. To date, half the forests on Earth have been cut down, a substantial portion of the drinking water has either been pumped out or polluted, and numerous species of plants and animals are becoming extinct. Additionally, global warming is likely to cause a fivefold increase in the number of natural disasters compared to the year 1970.

A report by The Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) [59] indicates that uninhibited consumption of natural resources such as water, fertile land, forests, oil, gas, and coal is inflicting ecological damage in catastrophic proportions, creating a drastic change in the Earth’s climate. According to the report, “Humans today extract and use around 50% more natural resources than only 30 years ago, at about 60 billion tons of raw materials a year.”

A report by The Climate Institute in Australia [60] states, “Climate change will have many adverse impacts on Australians’ health—physical risks, infectious diseases, heat related ill effects, food safety and nutritional risks, mental health problems and premature deaths. The emerging burden of climate-related impacts on community morale and mental health—bereavement, depression, post event stress disorders, and the tragedy of self-harm—is large, especially in vulnerable rural areas. Across all sectors of the Australian population, mental health ... is vulnerable to the stresses and disruptions caused by a changing climate and its environmental and social impacts.”

[58] World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation, The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Printed at the United Nations, New York, 2011),

[59] “Overconsumption? Our use of the world´s natural resources,” Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) (September 2009),

[60] “A Climate of Suffering: the real costs of living with inaction on climate change,” The Climate Institute (Melbourne & Sydney, The Climate Institute, 2011),

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