Overconsumption and health
Martin Hartog explores the health effects of global warming and outlines what individuals can do to help reverse the process
- By: Martin Hartog
Overconsumption is the opposite of sustainable development. It means releasing or taking up more of something than can be tolerated by the biosphere, so causing environmental degradation. By reducing the capacity of the biosphere, a downward spiral occurs as more and more damage is done to the environment by the unsustainable actions of individuals. This phenomena has been named Carson's syndrome1 after Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring exposed the toxicity of pesticides.2 In this article the use of energy will be used as an example of overconsumption.
Global warming is an effect of overconsumption. The earth is, in effect, a closed system, which has been in equilibrium for millennia with the sun as the ultimate source of energy. Short wave solar energy penetrates the earth's atmosphere but long wave, infrared, radiation emitted from the earth's surface is absorbed by atmospheric gases, the so called greenhouse gases (GHGs). These