Bhutan, at UN, hits out at impact of consumerism on scarce natural resources

Prime Minister of Bhutan Addresses General Assembly

26 September 2008 – Bhutan’s Prime Minister warned today at the General Assembly that consumerism is draining the world of key natural resources and helping spark or exacerbate recent crises over fuel prices, water reserves and the financial markets.

Too much of the global population had developed a “way of life that is just not rational and sustainable,” Jigmi Y. Thinley told the fourth day of the annual General Debate at the Assembly.

“It is not difficult to see how all these crises are the outcomes of a way of life that is dictated by the powerful ethics of consumerism in a world of finite resources. Our life is all about fear of not having enough, about wanting more and doing better than our dear neighbour and friend. We spend and consume beyond our means and those of generations unborn, bringing upon ourselves the kind of crises that were inevitable.”

Mr. Thinley said the problems caused by over-consumption have been made worse by the impact of climate change, especially the apparent rise in extreme weather phenomena.

“Striking unpredictably, unseasonably and with greater fury and frequency, natural disasters such as drought, cyclones, hurricanes, floods and landslides are destroying life, property and crops. Weather patterns have changed and continue to change with far more profound implications for our civilization than we can fathom.”

He also warned against a tendency towards private profiteering and socializing risks, adding that “unfortunately, the possible solution seems to lie in transferring our debt to future generations who are not here to argue against it.”

The Prime Minister of the Himalayan country noted that since the early 1970s, Bhutan has pursued a philosophy of working towards gross national happiness as a marker of success, rather than gross domestic product (GDP).

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