The Tyranny of GDP
by John Lawrence
We are overburdening earth's resources. Earth has a finite carrying capacity. It can only support so many human beings especially if everyone on the planet were to consume like an American. Americans are encouraged to consume because consumption is 70% of GDP. So buy more, eat more, consume more. After 9/11, President Bush encouraged everyone to go shopping.
But over consumption is what is destroying the environment leading to huge plastic gyres in the oceans, filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, melting the polar caps and raising sea levels. Global warming is caused by the over burning of fossil fuels. Flash flooding and tornadoes are wreaking much havoc.
Meanwhile, while Americans and the people of other "developed" countries are over consuming, millions of men, women and children literally don't have a pot to piss in. Or enough food to eat or enough medical care. There are 60 million refugees in the world who have lost everything due to wars which have destroyed their homes and businesses.
It is time that Americans started underconsuming even if that means that GDP growth slows down. The emphasis on GDP growth is unsustainable. We need a different, a better metric. It would be better if everyone in the world had a decent level of consumption, was well fed, well housed, well educated and secure rather than some having a surfeit of toys and trinkets while others starve.