Extensive Definition

Over-consumption is a concept akin to overpopulation, referring to situations where per capita consumption is so high that even in spite of a moderate population density, sustainability is not achieved. The concept was coined to augment the discussion of overpopulation, which reflects issues of carrying capacity without taking into account per capita consumption, by which developing nations are evaluated to consume more than their land can support. A key argument, often made by Green parties and the ecology movement, is that consumption per person, or ecological footprint, is typically lower in poor than in rich nations.


A fundamental effect of over-consumption is a reduction in the planet's carrying capacity. Excessive unsustainable consumption leads to overshoot and subsequent resource depletion, environmental degradation and reduced ecological health.
The scale of modern life's over-consumption has enabled an overclass to exist, displaying affluenza and obesity.
In the long term these effects can lead to increased conflict over dwindling resources and in the worst case a Malthusian catastrophe.

Economic Growth

However, the Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are planetary forces that are shaping the global biosphere. The State of the World 2006 report said the two countries' high economic growth hid a reality of severe pollution. The report states
The world's ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way,

Population Growth

Americans constitute less than 5% of the world's population, but produce 25% of the world’s CO2, consume 25% of world’s resources, including 26% of the world's energy, although having only 3% of the world’s known oil reserves, and generate roughly 30% of world’s waste. An Americans' impact on the environment is at least 250 times greater than a Sub-Saharan African's.
U.S. Census Bureau figures show the U.S. population grew by 2.8 million between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005. If current birth rate and immigration rates were to remain unchanged for another 60 to 70 years, US population would double to some 600 million people.
If China and India were to consume as much per capita as United States or Japan, in 2030 the two countries of China and India would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs.


Movements and ideologies have formed in recent decades to reduce over-consumption. These include anti-consumerism, ecological economics, freeganism and green economics. However laudable, these efforts mathematically cannot mitigate the consumption impacts projected from population projections through the year 2050.
overconsumption in French: Surconsommation
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