chapter  14
18 Pages

From Profligacy to Sustainability: Can We Get There From Here? Transforming the Ideology of Consumption

ByWilliam Kilbourne, John Mittelstaedt

Stern (2000) raised the challenge of consumption ideology for us when he noted that all environmental problems are, at their core, problems of consumption. Our economic and social structures are built around ever-increasing aggregate consumption, in which more is assumed to be better. Between 1970 and 2000, global economic output increased 338% (DeLong, 1998), with concurrent increases in health, welfare, and standards of living. Today, all but a handful of countries (i.e., Myanmar, North Korea, and Cuba) accept all or most of the central tenets of the Industrial Revolution as the basis of economic growth and welfare. In many ways, the story of consumption, and the economic systems that support it, is the story of human success.