by Katharine Helmore
According to Chandran Nair, the successful consumer-led economic model should not be followed or even encouraged in Asia. Similar levels of consumption in Asia, he believes, will devastate the environment and cause a ripple effect, which will reverberate around the world for decades to come. ‘Asia has a central responsibility for determining the world’s fate,’ he says in the opening chapter, not least because climate change will affect Asia the most. He goes on to disentangle climate arguments and present ways in which Asia might help itself without the help of the global community. He urges responsibility for environmental policy at a national level and sees the climate change summit at Copenhagen as illustrative of how an international consensus simply cannot, and will not work.
If that all sounds a bit far-fetched, then take a look at the statistics. Nair likes statistics and Consumptionomics is peppered with choice examples. Americans, for instance, eat a lot of poultry – an estimated 9 million birds per year. if Asians started eating the same amount, by 2050 they would be eating a mind-boggling 120 billion birds annually. At the moment, the majority of Indians and Chinese follow vegetarian diets. Even so, growing Asian populations will put a massive strain on corn production, resulting, Nair suggests, in an increased reliance on GM. China’s car manufacturing sector has finally surpassed that of the U.S and if consumption patterns continue, by 2020 it’s estimated they will own over 330 million vehicles, putting a massive strain on oil reserves. Only a decade ago, privately owned vehicles in China were virtually unheard of. the ecologist.org