Is is possible for a nation or people to be over-developed?

Here's a guideline, from Bill McKibbon's Hope, Human and Wild:


"Consider a study conducted some years ago by Charles Hall, a Syracuse professor. He calculated that every American dollar or its equivalent spent anywhere on earth triggered a series of events that, on average, consumed half a liter of petroleum.

Spend twenty dollars on a book and -- between the logging and the pulping and the printing and the shipping and the advertising -- you've used up a couple of gallons of oil. Burn a gallon of oil and you release about five pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. So this tome represents maybe a ten-pound cloud of CO2 -- the most important of the greenhouse gases, the most important human pollutant yet devised. Spend two hundred dollars on a suit and emit a few hundred pounds of carbon dioxide. The figures are not exact, obviously, but they make the point: money is a scrip redeemed in, among other things, units of pollution.

... If there are underdeveloped nations on this planet, there are also over-developed ones; and most of the people reading this book live in them. Simply by living according to the customs of such places, each of us powers the planet's decline. We don't need to own strip mines or chop down ancient forests -- our daily life is sufficient...".

from Hope, Human and Wild: true stories of living lightly on the earth by Bill McKibben