A fundamental effect of over-consumption is a reduction in the planet’s carrying capacity. Excessive unsustainable consumption will exceed the long term carrying capacity of its environment (ecological 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. However once again both of these claims are controversial with the latter being correlated to other factors more so than over-consumption.

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 exposed the 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


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.