Sunday, June 1, 2008

How this princess is saving the world

princess, originally uploaded by Tatiana Cardeal.

A carbon footprint study concludes that even the homeless and the most carbon efficient lifestyles in America leave a carbon footprint twice the international average.

The study concludes:

In general, spending money on travel or on goods that have substantial energy costs in their manufacture and delivery adds to a person's carbon footprint, while expenditures on locally based labor-intensive services--whether it's going to a therapist, taking an art class, or getting a massage--leads to a smaller footprint.

But the biggest factors in most people's lives were the obvious energy-users: housing, transportation and food. "The simple way you get people's carbon use down is to tax it," Gutowski says. "That's a hard pill to swallow--politicians don't like to step up" to support such measures. Absent such national actions, he says, it is important to study "what role consumer choices can play" in lowering the nation's carbon emissions.

Thomas Friedman, incidentally, recently concluded similarly...blaming Congress, so the last hope is changing consumer habits.

All this makes me wonder, can we truly make an impact if our economy fundamentally is tied to consumptive lifestyles? Steering Americans to local choices would be a start. Can we learn from Africans? David Ajaye thinks we can...Look at the energy resilient nature of African cities he points. We might try to save Africans, but maybe they can also save us. ')

1 comment:

Rich said...

I think consumptive is the operative word. Our fundamental role as Americans, as humans, has become that of a consumer. Whether in our theology of mall-like megachurches or our peculiarly extravagant and consumeristic way of death, we have monetized all of the grand issues that make up the culture of a people: fertility, birth, socialization, education, love. You name the value and I'll name the crazed marketplace we've built to exploit it.
And so to the green marketplace.
This wave of environmental consciousness feels like parachute pants and the hula hoop. Everyone wants to get on board, fads are fun, but how many are making any fundamental changes? Note: driving a Prius is not a fundamental change.