Bruce Mau believes the Western ideal of an affluent lifestyle has been marketed to an ever-growing audience-thanks largely to advances in communication technologies.
Images of limitless consumption have become normalized around the world. As a result, a global population is emerging from poverty and demanding the glamor, convenience, and luxury of the advanced economies - the same lifestyle they see on their TV sets and cell phones.
But the dream is unattainable. We have set in motion a runaway train of consumption worldwide, and this train threatens to derail life on Earth. The train cannot be stopped. But it can be redesigned.
The runaway train of consumption is a direct effect of the collision of population growth with technological growth, coupled with the relentless spread of Western cultural norms.
Every effort to stop the train by demanding personal sacrifice or abandoning the powerful dream of democratic wealth, first realized by the United States, has failed. We will not get this life-threatening train into reverse.
Our only hope is to redesign it - while it is racing down the track.