living and learning

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Resource hog or not?

'If you mention in the pub that you intend to drive from, say, Surrey to Cornwall, a distance that most Americans would happily go to get a taco, your companions will puff their cheeks, look knowingly at each other, and blow out air as if to say, "Well, now that's a bit of a tall order..."'
- Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island

Bryson is, of course, talking about driving, given the appalling state of American public transport. Europe is widely considered to be 'greener' than North America, but I was still pretty shocked at the way the other side of the pond stood out on the ecological footprint chart:

This, and the United States chickening out of the Kyoto Protocol, and the 'who is to blame' question takes on a whole new light. I suppose they don't have a choice really, seeing that their economy, culture and very identity is all interwoven with the word 'consumption'. I was watching the Big Bang Theory (an American sitcom set in Pasadena, California) and kept noticing such details: huge piles of take-away boxes after every meal, no shops within walking distance, cars and motorcycles the only forms of transport...

Just what does an ecological footprint this size translate to?

Behold, this nugget I bookmarked a while ago:

(Source: New Scientist)

The chart shows the number of years we have left of certain resources if consumed at a rate of 1) today's global rate, and 2) half the current US consumption rate. I'm assuming it's aimed at an American audience. Notice how 2 is always lower than 1. Perhaps it's attempting to point a finger in that direction too? Food for thought, yes.


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