Essays discuss the foundations of consumer culture and its impact on people and the environment, and look at what this reveals about the American character
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: Those who don't yet have an American standard of living usually want it, yet it would take three whole Earths to provide this for everyone alive today. This text brings together a group of writers to explore and resolve the paradox, including Jane Smiley (author of "A Thousand Acres"), Bill McKibben (author of "The End of Nature) and Juliet Schor (author of "The Overspent American"). They investigate the roots of consumer culture and its meanings for us. The authors do not offer easy solutions for the future, rather, they seek to provide a deeper understanding of how far the issues reach into our societies and into our sense of ourselves.