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J. V. C. Vargas


After the Industrial Revolution, the average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. The world's average per capita income increased over tenfold, while the world's population increased over sixfold in the two centuries that followed, resulting in consumerism, i.e., people’s desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. Some ecological economists recognize the inherent conflict between consumer-driven consumption and planetwide ecological degradation. Actually, the question of energy and natural resources availability needs to be treated with adequate scientific depth. The conservation laws of mass, momentum, energy and species have been known for centuries. Those principles state that mass, momentum, energy, and chemical species are conserved in the universe, continuously transforming into other forms, through different physical and chemical processes. These transformations occur irreversibly, thus reducing energy availability for use, i.e., with thermodynamic losses according to the second law of thermodynamics, which in turn could and should be minimized. Therefore, as humanity advanced scientific knowledge, theoretically it would be possible, by means of appropriate technological development to make use of energy and natural resources perennially. In sum, the concept that should be invoked for the increase or reduction of consumerism could be summarized in one very popular word currently, i.e., sustainability. So, what is necessary for mankind survival and of the world as we know it, is the search for the balance between consumerism and the available technology in the moment we live. On the other hand, the imbalance between these two variables could definitely lead to catastrophic consequences. Following that reasoning, the question to be answered is as follows: is it possible to reach such balance as society evolves in time?


Revista de Engenharia Térmica; Termal Engeneering Magazine; RETERM;

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