The Living Planet Report by the WWF Focuses on the Calamity of Conspicious Consumption

The Living Planet Report is the world's leading, science-based analysis on the health of our only planet and the impact of human activity. Its key finding? Humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity to sustain us. That is, we ask for more than what we have. The report, endorsed by the European Space Agency, says in part, "...the only people on Earth who are living within their means are those in the poorest nations - their "footprint" exactly matches the "biocapacity" in their countries." and that "the oxymoron of endless economic growth must be abandoned."

As Prof. Richard Pollay's decades of research into the character and social consequences of advertising has clearly shown those of us who live in consumer cultures are manipulated by advertising but are also driven to unsustainable consumption by peer pressure and by the fear of rejection and judgement by 'others'.

Who, then, are these 'others' whose judgement so many in our consumer cultures fear? Are they powerful individuals? Are they individuals at all? Are they real at all or are 'they' projections of the inner insecurities held the fearful themselves? What, then, is this phantom called culture whose power to judge can so often, and so predictably, manipulate and drive the consumer to seek fulfillment through retail therapy?

Does this phantom, this culture of consumption, have any existence beyond the insecurity of its participants? Of course not. This culture, like all cultures, is simply the product of our collective imaginings, of our collective will. The buyological-urge metaphor that Adbusters used in its Buy-Nothing Day campaign and The Living Planet Report both try, in different ways, to tear down the veil of culturally derived collective preconceptions that drive the unsustainable consumption of the limited resources on this one small planet in an impossible attempt to satiate a phantom.

Homo Shopus: The final stage in our evolution?