The psychological roots of resource over-consumption

| July 1, 2014 | Leave a Comment

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From Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse, Nate Hagens focuses on the demand-side drivers of why our society continues to seek and consume more stuff.

“Humans have an innate need for status and for novelty in their lives. Unfortunately, the modern world has adopted very energy- and resource-intensive ways of meeting those needs. Other ways are going to have to be found as part of the move to a more sustainable world.”

Read the full chapter here: The psychological roots of resource over-consumption


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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • JohnTaves

    Give me a break! “The phychological roots of resource over-consumption” is ridiculous. This topic is not complicated.

    Humans, like all species, over-breed. Adults average too many babies. That attempts exponential growth to infinity. That attempt always fails because the planet is finite.

    Why do we consume a lot? Because we can.

    Why do we consume resources faster than they renew? To keep our numbers alive. If we do not burn oil, billions die.

    Why did our numbers grow past what can be sustained using only renewable means? Because we figured out how to burn fossil fuels to make more sustenance ((refrigeration, transportation, fertilizers, etc, etc). More sustenance raises the limit allowing more people to live at one time, our excess breeding fills that new capacity as fast as it is created.

    This article and frankly all population experts, like Ehrlich, make the stupid assumption that our numbers are not at the limit. This assumption generates the question of why our population grew so dramatically in the past century, and that in turn generates these ridiculous theories. Let’s stop making that idiotic assumption. Instead, let’s assume that our numbers are at the limit, and relentlessly attempting to grow higher so that the only way it manages to grow higher is when we figure out how to generate more sustenance with either renewable or non-renewable means.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    A Cri de Coeur

    By Steven Earl Salmony

    06 July, 2014

    We can see well enough, and generally agree about, what is happening on Earth. Can we focus for a moment on,”Why these things are happening with such a vengeance on our watch?” Under no circumstances can it ever be correct for scientists to consciously censor naturally persuasive scientific research with extraordinary explanatory power just because the new evidence is unforeseen and unwelcome. Our unwillingness to accept what science discloses to us about our distinctly human creatureliness, the placement of the human species within the order of living things, and how the world we inhabit actually works, makes our efforts to adapt to the ‘rules of the house’ in our planetary home a protean challenge. As Carl Sagan reminded all of us, “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.”

    We possess so much knowledge and know-how, thanks to science, and know enough to recognize and understand that humankind is precipitating a planetary emergency on Earth. And what is our collective response? An inexcusable, unconscionable lack of urgency as well as a deliberate refusal to examine and report findings of extant scientific research. Why not ask a vital science question to which we appear to already have an answer, but of which scientists willfully refuse to speak? Why not ask about the ecological science of human population dynamics/overpopulation? If human beings are primary drivers of dissipating natural resources, dying oceans, degrading environs and destabilizing climate, then let us carefully and skillfully examine extant scientific research that simply and persuasively explains why absolute global human population numbers continue to grow so rapidly and, by so doing, to ravage so radically the prospects for the future of life as we know it in our planetary home? If the human community can share a good enough understanding of what it is that ails us and threatens life as we know it, then perhaps momentum can be gathered rather than thwarted to initiate an able collective response to the problems we appear to have induced for ourselves and other living things on the planet……..