June 15, 2012

Corporations as scapegoats for environmental problems

Pavan Sukhdev, who led "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity" review, writes in Nature (Sustainability: The corporate climate overhaul) regarding "environmental risks and ecological scarcities":
Consumerism is often blamed, and consumers can indeed make crucial choices on the basis of how much material and energy is used for making, packaging and transporting goods. But on this road of economic choices, it is corporations, not consumers, in the driver's seat, and they are driving us in the wrong direction. Corporate advertising converts our insecurities into a chain of wants, needs and excessive demands, which have made our ecological footprint exceed the planet's ability to produce resources and absorb emissions — by more than 50% (WWF Living Planet Report 2012).
The opposite is true. As producers we have fewer choices than we have as consumers. It is easier to find things to consume than it is to find consumers for one's products. Producer failure (not finding enough buyers) is more frequent than consumer failure (not finding enough sellers). The relative scarcity of consumers is the reason why producers advertise themselves and consumers don't, and why advertising is designed according to consumers' tastes, and not the reverse. Consumers are in the driver's seat.

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