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The Effects of Affluenza on Our Fragile Environment

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Imagine a world where the impacts of pollution have caused global warming to get to such an extent where it causes the ice caps to melt. This problem will cause the sea levels to rise and as a result thousands of homes will be underwater never to be lived in again. Affluenza is usually described as an endorsement of the flow of wealth that causes a division of classes, and loss of financial, environmental and emotional balance. (Graaf, Wann and Naylor, 18) In persons, symptoms of affluenza are addiction to work and anarchy; lack of confidence; hopelessness; a loss of enthusiasm and an artificial sense of power. Affluenza may come with obsessive conducts. Affluenza is prevailing throughout the world: in individuals who have assets. ‘Affluenza is an important reason of environmental change, scarcity of biodiversity and the heritage of leaving offspring’. (Science Magazine, 29)

Impacts of Affluenza on Environment

Defining and spreading impact of Affluenza and environmental pollution on humans is the mission of this essay. Although this malady might once have been labeled stress or greed, studies demonstrate that the syndrome of Affluenza is much more complex. It is related to many of the social and environmental problems that exist today, either as a cause, a result, or both. If this problem continues there will be serious consequences. Some of the impacts include tremendous cost of pollution cleanup and prevention. It also has a dramatic effect on natural resources in forests, wetlands and rivers are just a few of our natural resources. These resources perform different tasks. All are vital services for the Earth.

They enhance air and water quality, provide habitats for plants and animals and provide food. Simply put we live of them so if we continue to damage our lifelines we will have a hard enough job staying alive never mind all the other jobs we have to do. According to Former Harvard Business School marketing professor David Korten, ‘The whole corporate system and the cause of globalization are increasingly geared toward bringing every country into the consumer system. There’s a very strong emphasis on trying to reach children to reshape their values from the very beginning to convince them that progress is defined by what they consume’. (Science Magazine, 29)

It is of great importance to understand the symptoms of Affluenza: shopping fever, chronic stress, hyper commercialism, “material boys and girls” (marketing to and consumption by children), a rash of bankruptcies, fractured families, social scars (a loss of community), and “global infection” (socially and environmentally unsustainable practice). (Dennis and Hamilton, 175) For each symptom, there are several examples, like, under global infection we learn that one fifth of the world’s people live in absolute poverty, that since 1950 residents of the United States alone have used more resources than all people who have lived on earth before them, and that each citizen uses 20 tons of resources a year.

Social columnist Jeremy Rifkin says ‘during the nineteenth century, consumption itself (tuberculosis) considered as a bad thing’. A quick review of the notion of simplicity in culture describes the interest in simple living at the turn of the 20th century, the involuntary simplicity of the Great Depression, the post-World War II consumer boom fueled by government-housing and highway policies, the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and Jimmy Carter’s 1979 speech in which he criticized the increasing materialism of the society. But as Shi suitably observes, “part of Jimmy Carter’s failure was his lack of recognition of how deep and widespread the consumer culture had become.” (Dennis and Hamilton, 158)

Although the attention devoted to voluntary simplicity is more extensive than that devoted to any of the symptoms of affluenza, it only begins to give a feel for what a simpler lifestyle might entail. The researchers recognize that Affluenza could only provide an introduction to voluntary simplicity and are at work on a follow-up program, originally titled Living Better on Less. As mentioned by Dennis, ‘There is absolutely no way everyone can live at our standard of affluence. Consumption threatens to devour world resources within a single lifetime.’ (Dennis and Hamilton, 124) Attention to this issue will only increase in the future. When simpler, less consumptive lifestyle will be seen as a possible cure for the various problems and simplicity will grow as a lifestyle choice and as a social movement. According to a national environmental group, due to air pollution, probability is high that infants and kids will develop cancer in later years of their lives. Due to air pollution, toxic chemicals are mixed with children’s cereal and thus can cause cancer, but the governments are not paying enough attention to this issue so far. (Science Magazine, 29)

Conclusion and Recommendation

It feels that all kinds of environmental pollution can be reduced or ultimately stopped once and for all by controlling Affluenza. Every individual must look at Earth as being someone or something really special to us. Look after this like a child. Love it and care for it as if it were your own. No one should trash it or take advantage of it. However if this problem of abuse towards our world continues it is inevitable that it will get back at us in the future. Perhaps sooner rather than later, reducing or stopping pollution for the soul purpose of saving our Earth is a simple task. Everyone should get involved, rich or poor, healthy or sick.

If more people take part in the programs already out there then it might not be too late. However someday in the future (maybe not in our lifetime) the Earth will decide it has had enough and that will be the end of everything, as we know it. If Earth dies it will surely take us with it. Just remember that when you’re holding a wrapper or an empty can in you hand and there is no bin about that our fate is in our hands. As suggested by Scott Simon “earth could support the world’s population at nearly our living standards if we revised many of our consumption and spending habits.”

However, some argue that even at dramatically reduced levels of consumption and increased levels of productive eco-efficiency, human population must be reduced to achieve a sustainable future. Many more argue that revising spending and consumption habits as the proponents of voluntary simplicity suggest will in fact destroy our current standard of living. The challenge that Affluenza so nicely poses for the latter group is whether society should choose to emphasize quantity or quality of life. Or one can say “Affluenza is one malady we can cure by spending less money, not more.” (Dennis and Hamilton, 160) That simple statement has enormous implications for the practice of business in the 21st century.

Works Cited

Graaf, J. D., Wann, D., and Naylor, T. H., ‘Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic’ Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005. 1- 30.

Science Magazine, ‘Los Angeles The Most Polluted US Air’, April 2008. pg 29.

Dennis, R and Hamilton, C, ‘Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough’, Allen & Unwin, 2006. 120-180.

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