The increased consumption of resources in the industrialised states and in the newly industrialised countries leads the earth to the verge of an ecological disaster.
The challenge is to decouple economic activities from resource consumption in order to create an equitably distributed wealth for the people, to protect ecosystems and to reach the climate protection goals.
- How can quality of life and affluence also be reached with considerably lower use of energy and resources?
- How can be prevented that the efficiency gains lead to even more consumption?
- Is beyond the relative decoupling an absolute decoupling of production growth and resource consumption possible and realistic before the background of the global population development?
- Which natural availability limits must be considered for the utilisation of resources and included in the planning for economic processes?
- How is the international race (also of emerging economies) for resources regulated? Do we need specific international resource utilisation agreements?
- How can we succeed in transferring raw materials such as natural and mineral resources into intelligent cycles? Is, for that purpose, a reinvention of our industrial material flows required?
- Which economic opportunities and employment potentials result from a more intelligent and more sustainable way of dealing with resources?
Growth and resource use – no never ending story
The Little family has not only one, but several laptops, video game consoles, DVD players and LCD TV sets, otherwise disputes about the use would be pre-programmed.
The Little family is aware of the fact that they are making in this way a negative contribution to climate change. Because energy consumption is rising in the Western industrialized nations – in spite of technical efficiency improvements. The reason is the increased use of consumer electronics and of appliances of information and communication technology such as LCD TV sets, DVD players – and they exist often even twice or three times per household.
More and more efficient and larger appliances are also responsible for rising energy consumption.
In order to make their ecological footprint smaller the whole Little family has been dealing for a while with the topic of resource saving. A few months ago father and son replaced two thirds of all bulbs in the house by energy saving lamps, with electronic devices in case of non-use the main power plug was disconnected, if possible. When currently buying a new car Mrs. Little opted for a hybrid vehicle. And since Catherine learned at school that the production of one kilogramme of beef is as much a burden on the climate as a 250 km-drive by car, she has refrained from eating meat. When the Little family is measuring its ecological footprint again half a year later, they are quite surprised.
The implemented measures have brought about only a few improvements in the result. In particular the nutritional and the consumer behaviour of the Little family are still responsible for a high resource consumption. The Little family is asking itself whether maybe after all only less consumption brings about improvements? In any case the Little family has cancelled the order of the third TV set at the dealer around the corner.