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The more than 7 billion people living on the planet will grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. Two centuries ago only 3 percent of the world lived in cities; today more than half do. Developing a groundbreaking new drug can take more than a decade and cost more than $1 billion to bring to market, at which point it is still prohibitively expensive to acquire for many of those in need. Nearly 2 million of the world’s children under the age of 5 die every year because of environmental risks like pollution and unsafe drinking water. Next year 50 million metric tons of electronic and electrical waste will be generated. By 2020, 3 out of every 4 people will die from a chronic disease in which diet is a major contributor. And climate change experts predict that 200 million people will become climate refugees by 2050.
Our relationship with our health and with our planet are evolving faster and more dramatically than ever. How, where, what, why and with whom we consume all matter. Possible changes are omnipresent: scientists, technologists, innovators, policymakers and citizens are all seeking novel solutions that will improve our ecosystem and our species’ future existence. As society looks for new ways to protect its future, it consults the past to discover how it was done well. Ancient plants like cannabis and hemp are seeing redemption in the eyes of lawmakers both within and outside the United States; traditional Asian therapies like acupuncture and yoga are being used by professional athletes to accelerate recovery; and increasingly large groups are rejecting processed and genetically-modified foods in their diets.
At its core, the future of consumption is the story of how we as human beings continue to tend to our own bodies and minds, each other, and the environment. It is a narrative steeped in both progress and history, science and emotion, and disaster and we hope salvation.