The advent of international advertising, electronic communications and wide access to the mass media have fed a worldwide public appetite for new and more products, and for travel. Rising affluence has fueled the 'Western' model of consumption, and its emulation all over the world. And, though developing countries still account for less than 20 per cent of global GDP, many of their people are joining the consumer society. Per capita incomes are rising, and habits of diet, mobility and resource consumption are changing to reflect industrial country patterns.
Alongside the consumer culture, the world has other value systems and lifestyles which may be less visible and invasive but which represent the rich diversity of human experience and fulfilment. Many of these are more respectful of the environment, and provide options worth considering in the move towards more sustainable forms of society. The poor are also cut off from the consumer society, which is still largely irrelevant to their struggle for existence. A lifestyle that excludes one-third of the world's population, however dominant it may appear at the moment, should not be regarded as the supreme achievement of 20th-century civilization.