High consumption by some nations puts all of us at risk

Life on Earth is threatened by climate change, nuclear attack, dwindling resources—and the chasm between rich and poor.

The world’s richest countries, such as Luxembourg and the United States, have average incomes per person about 100 times higher than in the poorest countries, such as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That’s a tragedy for poor countries. Is it also a looming tragedy for rich ones?

Until recently all those poor people elsewhere were no threat to rich countries. “They” out there didn’t know much about our lifestyle—and even if they did and became angry, they couldn’t do anything about it.

But today, poor remote countries are able to create problems for rich ones, and the reasons can be summed up in a word: globalization. As a result of the increased connections among all parts of the world, people in developing countries know more about differences in living standards, and many of them can now travel to rich countries.

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