Many of the environmental and social problems we face today are symptoms of a deeper systemic failing: a dominant cultural paradigm that encourages living in ways that are often directly counter to the realities of a finite planet. This paradigm, typically referred to as the 'consumer culture', has already spread to more than two billion individuals and has led to consumption levels that are vastly unsustainable.
If this culture spreads further there will be little possibility of solving climate change or other environmental problems that are poised to dramatically disrupt human civilization. It will take a sustained, long-term effort to redirect the institutions that shape our consumer culture towards a culture of sustainability. These institutions include schools, the media, businesses and governments. By bringing about a cultural shift that makes living sustainably as 'natural' as a consumer lifestyle is today, not only will this address urgent crises like climate change, it could also tackle other symptoms like extreme income inequity, obesity, and social isolation that are not typically seen as environmental problems.