“Clearly, Western Nations have been the key driver of climate change so far. Between 1950 and 2000, the United States was responsible for 212 gigatons of carbon dioxide, whereas India was responsible for less than 10 percent as much. So it is clear that the richest people on the planet are appropriating more than their fair share of “environmental space.” Yet their lifestyle is increasingly what the rest of the world aspires to.”
-State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy, World Watch Institute
And how the world would look if everyone lived like an average American? It turns out that although we only comprise 5% of the global population, Americans consume 30% of the world’s material resources and 40% of the world’s gasoline supply, which leads to 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. So, for one, we would need at least five more planets to provide the necessary resources and absorb the waste.
It’s difficult to see how our daily consumption decisions impact the air or water quality on a local level. And it’s even harder to conceive of how our decisions affect the rest of the world. It may help to know that every time you, as an average American, spend a dollar, the energy equivalent of a cup of oil is used to produce what that dollar buys.
So in true American spirit, allow your competitive side to kick in. Imagine if you consumed four times more gasoline than your neighbors… or four times more food… producing four times more garbage. Who wants to be that guy? So when it comes to spending that next dollar, and the dollar after that, think twice. Try to beat your neighbors. Even if they are located halfway around the world; that doesn’t make them any less real.
Kate Rohacz is the Editor-in-Chief of MyEnergy, a company dedicated to saving you money and energy.