This article appeared in the October 12, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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New consumers – and new behaviors?

Johannes P. Christo/Reuters
Tourists and local residents come ashore on a polluted beach in Bali, Indonesia.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Hurricane Michael made a lot more noise when it bombed the Florida Panhandle this week. But the quiet arrival on a British beach of a 47-year-old empty plastic detergent bottle merits some consideration too.

Find the central Gulf Coast on Google Earth. Or find that beach in Somerset, England. Now zoom out to the Big Blue Marble. Linger there.

Consider that even though global markets have been rocked of late, sending privileged shareholders scurrying to check retirement accounts, the world keeps getting incrementally richer. A new report from the Brookings Institution notes that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty.”

That’s big. And that’s progress. More households of all kinds have money to spend on something other than subsistence. Will the consumer-supply end serve them responsibly? This week our economy team wrote about corporate moves toward mitigating actions widely connected to climate change, which is, in turn, widely linked to more destructive storms.

As thinkers sift through carbon-pricing schemes and poke at feats of geoengineering (we’ll explore the ethics of those Monday), it will be new consumers – led by longtime ones – who’ll be challenged to make the choices that force the change that shapes the future.

Now to our five stories for your Friday. 

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This article appeared in the October 12, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/12 edition