By David Wann
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Additional resources for Affluenza: How Overconsumption Is Killing Usand How to Fight Back
We have diminished our soil, fisheries, fossil fuels (which took hundreds of millions of years to form), and who knows what other resources, by half. We have caused the extinction of countless other species, and we have changed the climate. Think about it; try to grasp in your mind what it means to have done all of this in this blink of the geological eye. There are people, Brower went on to say, who believe that what we have been doing for that last one-hundredth of a second can go on indefinitely.
Ground breaking began for the National Defense Interstate Highway System, soon to stretch from sea to shining sea. A TV dinner (introduced in 1953) came from every oven. ” a man in a ’50s commercial intones as a young couple and their towheaded son sit on a couch watching the tube. ” Of course, the great life wasn’t great for the millions who were poor or discriminated against. And even for middle-class America, it wasn’t worry-free. On the same day in 1957 (October 4) that Leave It to Beaver premiered on American television, those pesky Russians shot Sputnik into space.
That was it: affluenza. A single word that not only made a catchy (pun intended) TV title but also suggested a disease resulting from overconsumption. Here was a way to make the impacts of overconsuming more clearly understandable—as symptoms of a virus that, in the United States at least, had reached epidemic proportions. They could then look at the history of this disease, trying to understand how and why it spread, what its carriers and hot zones were, and finally, how it could be treated. From that point on, they began to use the term, asking interviewees if the idea made sense to them.