We're all standing in line at an all you can eat buffet. Of course, it's only all you can eat for the first billion or so people in line. This is the main idea of the book Radical Simplicity which I mentioned in a previous post. It's a pretty challenging book in that it's hard to argue with anything the author says, and damned hard to accept. His premise is that there are roughly 4.7 acres of bioproductive land available for every human on earth, and North Americans are using 6 times our share on average. He outlines what kind of reduction in consumption and lifestyle, including healthcare and education, would be required to share the planet's resources equitably amongst all 6 billion of us. Your spouse, kids and mother would not approve.
We've heard it all before, but Jim Merkel, the author, makes the point very well that we in North America are the biggest part of the problem and it becomes quite clear that unless you believe that somehow we're more equal than everyone else, our ecological footprints are outrageous. Trying to reconcile this knowledge with a conventional middle class life is proving rather difficult for me. So don't read this book. You'll start writing preachy blog entries and trying to figure out how a family of 3 can live on $15k a year.