Thursday, February 10, 2011

Consumerism and the rise of India and China

I wrote the email below to Peter Day, host of Global Business, one of my favourite programmes on the BBC World Service, in response to his recent interview (summarised here) with Chandran Nair, author of Consumptionomics: Asia's Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet.

I enjoyed your recent interview with Chandran Nair and found it very encouraging.  However, I was disappointed by your assumption that a less resource intense lifestyle would be less pleasant.  My husband and I are trying to reduce our consumption of various resources down to our global fair share.  At our last audit we used 1.5 times our fair share of water for irrigation and 75% of our fair share of agricultural land and produced 3 times our fair share of carbon emissions.   We have a rich and enjoyable life with a varied, ample and healthy diet; lots of enjoyable activities; and good access to information technology and sophisticated medical care.

We are not yet at a globally sustainable level but I suspect that a relatively small number of macro changes could close the gap.  For example, the government currently squanders 1/3 of every Kiwi's global fair share of carbon emissions on building roads: roads that we would need fewer of and which would need less maintenance if everyone lived like us.

I think people would be more comfortable with the idea of changing their aspirations if they were more familiar with stories like ours.

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