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Introducing Climate Psychology: facing the climate crisis
Introducing Climate Psychology: facing the climate crisis

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3.2 Consumerism

Especially since the 1950s, consumerism – the driving force of capitalist growth – has invented a never-ending stream of new needs and desires in order to grow profits. We are all susceptible to the pleasures of consumption.

Activity 4 Consumerism

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

When did you last buy something that you didn’t need? Think up your own examples. How avoidable are they?

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We are all products of a consumerist society and many would be averse to, for example, having to eat only seasonal and local foods. In this way, the lavish consumer provisions on offer have shaped our tastes, indeed, not only our tastes but the shape and motivations of our selves. The point for Climate Psychology is that capitalist economics and consumer culture have fashioned the psychology of individuals during the Modern period.

At the UN biodiversity conference held in Montreal in December 2022, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, opened the summit [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] with a stark warning:

Without nature, we are nothing. Nature is our life-support system, and yet humanity seems hellbent on destruction. With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction.