The New Consumers: The Influence of Affluence on the Environment / Edition 1

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Overview

"The environmental analyst Norman Myers and his coauthor Jennifer Kent here concentrate not on nations like the United States but on the stunning increase in what they term "new consumers" - people in developing and transition nations who have achieved sufficient affluence to enjoy middle class lifestyles, including buying cars, eating meat regularly, and using a host of household electrical appliances. Even in the midst of great inequity, these New Consumers have already gained purchasing power equal to that of the United States, and the cumulative impact on the environment is enormous." "Myers and Kent have distilled the results of their remarkable research to reveal the patterns of increasing consumption in twenty developing and transition nations, with particular attention to China and India, whose surging economies and large populations account for much of the recent exceptional growth in humanity's ecological footprint. New Consumers generally have been following a path established in long-developed nations of needlessly overusing limited natural resources. As the authors document, this course is clearly unsustainable on a world scale. When India's economy doubled, its air pollution rose eightfold. Were each person in China to consume as much grain-fed beef as today's average American, it would require more grain than the entire U.S. harvest." If the developed nations have set a dangerous precedent by overconsuming, innovative policies offer some reason for hope. China, for example, has now written sustainable consumption into law and begun promoting it through economic incentives and education programs. Drawing on such examples, Myers and Kent outline an alternative path. Through a combination of lifestyle changes, policy reforms, and technological innovation around the globe, a decent and enduring standard of living could be available to everyone.
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Editorial Reviews

Director, Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, University of Vermont - Robert Costanza

"Myers and Kent have identified a major environmental issue for the 21st century—the rise of 'new consumers' whose environmental impact will be enormous if they behave like the 'old' consumers. They also clearly point out the fundamental limitations of consumerism (whether new or old) in achieving real, sustainable human welfare, and a path to sustainable consumption. The first step in overcoming the addiction of consumerism is recognizing that it is psychological 'junk food.'"
t Morning</i> - James Gustave Speth
“In The New Consumers Myers and Kent brilliantly show why it's urgent for the global community to choose between sustainable patterns of resource use and today's accelerating drain on the planet's resources.  They explore how both the new consumers of the rapidly developing world and the longtime over-consumers of the rich countries can both find a future that works.”
University of Maryland, author of Beyond Growth - Herman E. Daly

"Could increasing consumption be costing the world more than it is worth? Read this important book and find out!"
Stanford University, coauthor of One with Nineveh - Paul R. Ehrlich

"Norman Myers is one of the world's most insightful and original thinkers on the crucial environmental issues of our time. In The New Consumers he and Jennifer Kent incisively analyze the rise of consumption on a world scale and show us what can be done for people everywhere to enjoy a high quality of life without destroying the planet's ability to support our grandchildren."
author of Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken

"Myers and Kent have written a clarion call to all people, rich and poor. While political interest in the environment ebbs and flows, the impact of consumption increases relentlessly. What is now a tragedy of the commons can only be overcome by the diligence and care this book embodies."
Library Journal
"We are witnessing one of the biggest revolutions in history," write environmental activists Myers and Kent about the unprecedented consumer boom occurring in developing countries. New consumers (about one billion!) aspire to a Western lifestyle that includes more cars, more household appliances, and much more meat consumption. The authors focus on China and India, where recent economic growth has led to a surging demand for consumer goods. But this affluence comes at a price namely, a wide array of environmental problems. Perhaps the only way to avoid an eventual global disaster, say the authors, is for U.S. society to set an example by radically changing its ways and moving toward a sustainable, ecologically sound way of life. Given the indications of widespread global scarcity, pollution, and disease, recommending a voluntary lifestyle change seems to fall short. But the authors succeed at describing the problems and offering at least some hope and guidance. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Ilse Heidmann, Washington State Lib., Olympia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559639972
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Myers is a world-renowned environmental analyst who has numerous important books and more than 300 scientific papers and 400 popular articles to his credit. He has won several international awards for his work, including the Volvo Environment Prize, the UNEP Environment Prize, and the Blue Planet Prize. Jennifer Kent is an environmental researcher and analyst specializing in interdisciplinary studies. She has published several papers and books with Norman Myers.

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Table of Contents

I Who are the new consumers? 3
II Cars : driving us backwards? 25
III Meat : juicy steaks and hidden costs 38
IV Further resource linkages : household electricity, eco-footprints, and human numbers 51
V China : a giant awake and roaring 66
VI India : the second "biggie" 82
VII The big picture of 20 countries 93
VIII Sustainable consumption : where do we find It? 120
IX Sustainable consumption : how to get from here to there 132
App. A GNI and its shortcomings 147
App. B Four outlier countries 149
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