Consumption, in the broad sense of the term is something that all humans practice. We consume resources to survive and we consume goods and services to contribute to aspirational standards of living. In a narrower sense, "consumption" is discussed in terms of the over-consumption of physical resources, which arguably has become a worldwide problem. The globalized economy encourages perpetual growth to maintain economic viability. Unfortunately, this model has become problematic. It largely ignores externalities related to pollution, land degradation, the depletion of nonrenewable resources, the unsustainable exploitation of renewable resources, unhealthy food systems, and the striping away of natural capital on a finite planet.
The result is that over consumption contributes to the myriad crises we face including global warming, nutrient loading, and biodiversity loss, among others. In short many of our consumption patterns are unsustainable, yet little is being done to remedy the problems.
The irresistible force paradox asks, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Our planet has finite resources. Yet, our planet's economy is overwhelmingly based on perpetual growth and consumption. This problem appears inevitably bound to come to pass at some point. The question is, will it pass after a serious crisis, or will we manage the near-term so that we may avoid a crash?