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Affluence and Sustainability: Environmental History and the History of Consumption

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Part of the Worlds of Consumption book series (WC)

Abstract

At first glance, a chapter on affluence and sustainability would appear to offer a foregone conclusion. There is no sustainability in affluent societies. In the twenty-first century, with few people left who raise doubts about the reality of climate change, it is apparent that the Western style of mass consumption cannot sustain itself in the long run. It thus takes little effort to demonstrate the environmental peculiarity of modern consumer societies. After all, it is based on the massive exploitation of nonrenewable resources. The famous 1972 Club of Rome study on the Limits to Growth. was only the best-known warning of its kind. In retrospect, one cannot help but wonder what was more remarkable—the study itself or the fact that a study was even necessary for modern consumer society to learn about the environmental limitations of the planet. With the debate over global warming, the environmental toll of consumerism has become familiar all over the world. Hence, it might be tempting to dispense with this topic in familiar fashion—with a compilation of statistics that illustrates the transition of societies to an unsustainable mode of consumption.

Keywords

  • Environmental History
  • Environmental Movement
  • Consumer Society
  • Mass Tourism
  • Household Technology

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Uekoetter, F. (2012). Affluence and Sustainability: Environmental History and the History of Consumption. In: Berghoff, H., Spiekermann, U. (eds) Decoding Modern Consumer Societies. Worlds of Consumption. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137013002_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137013002_7

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-29729-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-01300-2

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