Consumers Beware

Don't worry about overpopulation, prof writes—worry about consumption rates
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 3:53 PM CST
Overpopulation isn't the main problem facing the world, it's overconsumption, argues Jared Diamond ("Guns, Germs and Steel")(PAR179929)   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Don’t worry how many people there are in the world—worry how much each is consuming, noted author and professor Jared Diamond argues in today’s New York Times. People in the developed world consume 32 times more than counterparts in the developing world; if the 5.5 billion in the developing world were to catch up, we’d all face a massive resource crisis.

If developing nations began consuming at developed-world rates, Diamond writes, it would be as if the Earth's population had suddenly hit 72 billion. Developed countries must cut their consumption, Diamond argues, and if they become more efficient in consuming there will be little measurable impact on living standards—a possibility about which Diamond says he is "cautiously optimistic."