You're probably already aware that Americans consume a disproportional amount of the world's stuff. You may even have bumped into some of the statistics: We make up 5 percent of the global population, but use 20 percent of the world's energy. We eat 15 percent of the world's meat. We produce 40 percent of the world's garbage.
While those numbers do sound impressive, it can be hard to know what to make of them. OK, so we eat 10 billion animals and throw out 16 billion disposable diapers every year. So what?
Today's infographic, by blogger and journalist Tim De Chant, gives the issue some meaningful context by asking, and then answering, the question, "what if everyone in the world lived like us?"
To make the graphic, De Chant started with the Global Footprint Network's 2011 estimates of the average "ecological footprint" of people from several countries. (The footprint is a calculation of how much land it takes to provide the average person with everything they consume, including food, goods, and energy, for one year. It incorporates the more familiar "carbon footprint" in the form of the amount of land needed to offset the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the average individual.) Next, he multiplied the footprint by the total population of the world (about 7 billion) to figure out the total amount of land needed.
Assuming we were able to use all the land on the planet--with the exception of Antarctica-- here's how much of Earth(s) we would need if we all lived like people in Bangladesh (or India. Or France. Or, yes, the U.S):
That will all change 21st December 2012 or
Nature has been balancing things out since the dawn of time.
Imbalances are temporary. Organisms which cannot live within the carrying capacity of its environment will not survive for long...relatively speaking.
"We Entertain When It Rains"
+1 to RainyDayInterns
(Type 0.72) = We are still just cleaver monkeys!
"It's a good thing not everyone lives like an American."
Good for us, not for them... considering one third of the world's poor live in India. 32.7% of the total Indian people fall below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day.
I think a lot of people see this graphic as an example of the west's excesses. I don't. I see inequity. The people with small carbon footprints earn that by living in conditions that most westerners could not possibly imagine. I spent months in the Philippines in shacks without running water. And we had it good compared to our neighbors.
So don't think for a second that the people living in the countries at the top of this graphic are living smarter, healthier or more earth friendly. They are living in abject poverty. And if they improve their condition, their
footprint will increase. There is no way around that. And good for them I say. No one should live like that.
That was point 1. Here is point 2.
You can decrease your carbon footprint by half? Good for you. But in the grand scheme of things, is that really enough? The Earth's population is increasing at an exponential rate. We need to find a way to morally and equitably limit the Earth's population. I am all for human and civil rights, but I think there will come a time where we have to choose between that right of the individual and prosperity of all the human race. If we don't, the mob will. And they will choose either pure anarchy or tyranny. I hope I am wrong.
I am glad some one else has their eyes open. Thank you for not being another ignorant human being passively traveling through life.
"We make up 5 percent of the global population, but use 20 percent of the world's energy. We eat 15 percent of the world's meat. We produce 40 percent of the world's garbage."
Utter crap. The Earth doesn't have electric plugs in every tree that we siphon energy from. We PRODUCE 20% of the world's energy, and we're responsible for the technology that produces 80% of the world's energy.
The world doesn't divvy out resources. It doesn't have a resource delivery center we can pick up our daily raw materials at. It hangs onto them like a miser. Do you think getting coal, oil, metal ore, rare earth metals, and nuclear material is Easy? The rest of the world is welcome to consume at our rate. They can't because they haven't done the work necessary to. They're still too busy having 10 children, or decapitating homosexuals, or living under command economies.
democedes is correct. The only reason the rest of the world is like that is because they have not advanced, culturally and economically. And if they did, then the Earth would be able to sustain the entire human population, because of the efficiency and technological advancement available at having 7 Billion Americans rather than just 300 Million.
But, at the same time, 7 Billion people is likely more than we should have. Life would likely be easier; space would be more accessible, if we had more along the lines of 4 Billion or so. Recall that if most places lived like Americans, they'd have 1.8-2.3 children per couple, not 5 or 7. And they wouldn't die in their 40's or 50's. We should work towards a more optimal population, in a way that doesn't infringe on people's rights. Provide encouragement for population reduction without sanctioning a lack of it. If we sanction having children, we'll likely screw ourselves like China. Not to mention that it would be barbaric and deplorable (but I repeat myself).
This article is utter crap, and I'm glad there are people like democedes and delkomatic that still understand that.
You are right. Everything comes with trade-offs, including carbon footprints.
The reason why the human population hasn't hit its carrying capacity is because every time we get close, people beign to rush to find ways to improve technology and thus, our carrying capacity. In a way, we're pushing the bar up as our population increases.
There are many ways you can use techonology to reduce your carbon footprint should you wish to. Most of them need 5-20 years to get the cost back, but most of us are in such a hurry for fast gains we don't realise that even 20 years means giving back for at least 2/3 of our lives.
You seem to have missed the point. Try it this way: the American way of life would be impossible without resources from the rest of the world. The rest of the world would be better off keeping those resources... Or maybe you think USA is the greatest military power just to protect itself from afghan stone throwers? Saying that "we're responsible for the technology that produces 80% of the world's energy" is hilarious. Who's this WE? You've been brainwashed so clean that you didn't notice over half the people in US universities and labs are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants?.. President Barack Obama!?... :))
Pondering to myself, I wonder if this was completely done fair.
Seems to me to calculate my total wealth I have to add up my assets and subtract my debt.
Now was the USA National debt taken into this equation?
I mean yes, the USA government leaders have been living life large like a addictive gambler with lots of credit cards in Vegas, but eventually reality sets in to pay his debts. I do realize we USA citizens are on the fiscal cliff and I suspect other bad things are hiding in the background too, when the USA has to declare bankruptcy to the world for its debts and the world insist on some type of compensation in return, of which we have nothing to pay.
I do know if the above article was done fairly. Of course I am not an economist or accountant, but when if finally happens for the USA people to pay our debts, would this article be correct?
I do wonder what CHINA would do, if one day, so sorry we can not pay. What would they do? What would they do?
My guess, China knows we are bankrupt and could not pay up if we had too. But on a brighter side, we are paying them something of which their economy is being fed...... by USA.
The USA is a bankruptcy disaster waiting to happen and China and others are just being patient and taking what they can get.
"Earth's population is increasing at an exponential rate"
no its not...
(Type 0.72) = We are still just cleaver monkeys!
I'm just glad I'm only passing through.
Before we go any further a very important fact to keep in mind is that the entire human population can literally fit into the city of Los Angeles. If each person in our entire species were given an equal plot of land ( not including the earths water which could be populated somewhat as well) they would own 26,000 sq ft! So now space is certainly not an issue to be concerned with yet. That is like worrying about the sun dying (not in our lifetime). Energy inequality is certainly the problem at hand but I sure am glad that I Iive in the United States. And mind you when it becomes an overwhelming issue, human being have a knack for fixing things. Evolution will fix itself and according to history we are masters at such a task.
We can always populate the Moon and Mars.
But 4.1 or more is the way the world is headed.
War is inevitable until 4.1/x=1. The future will be interesting, only space can save us.
What a pathetic article. The author is apparently ignorant of the unequaled record of America's contribution to the world population's current quality of life. While it may be true that the US population is only about 5% of the world's total and consumes about 20% of the world's energy each year, it's also true that the US produces almost 24% of global GDP. Thus the US is a very efficient user of that energy, unlike most other countries.
What about an article titled "What if everyone contributed the same to global GDP as Tibetan Buddhist monks? How many world economies would we need?".
See how stupid that sounds? Ms. Elert needs to grow up.
This article is utter nonsense, and anyone capable of simple logic can see that. If everyone lived like an American, then everyone would PRODUCE like an American. We produce a huge amount of the worlds food, for example. If the techniques used for farming here in Kansas were used in India, they could feed the world twice over at its current population, instead of starving. If people quite going crazy about how selfish Americans are(not saying we aren't) and started spending time doing something more useful than intellectual suicide, maybe we could all sustainably live like the Arab Emirates, which you notice have it even better than us.
Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein
The USA is similar to a guy driving down the road in the best rented car, with clothes he bought with his credit card, after finishing his dinner with friends paid by his credit card in his rented apartment. Then one day, some in his world changes, he loses his job and all the bills come do.
Later you see this person on the side of the street holding a cardboard piece of paper asking for money for food.
Oh yea, sure the USA is so wealthy............... not.
Were greedy and delusional, that is what we are!
ok Robot we get it, US is in a lot of debt,
So theres 2 parts to this article, consumption of total resources and carbon footprint(atleast from what i saw) and energy being the main issue among the two. If we were able to find some energy resource with a minimal carbon footprint, like nuclear fission or fusion this would be perfect, Nuclear fission right now is a great source of minimal carbon footprint, and fusion would be much better. There has to be a more concerted effort to complete fusion tech research. We are close but we need to wrap this up soon. I think once you are able to get a viable fusion reactor, then this planet will change. Cheap clean energy means lower cost of living, lower cost of products, cheaper desalinization plants, cheaper manufacturing etc..... A big step in human history i believe.
It's like some people have said, the U.S has 5% of the world population but produces 24% of the world GDP, that's actually pretty amazing, no other country comes close.
democedes, I hope we are both wrong. I've seen that too, and the only way I think nature can slow us down is by mak8ing WAY too much of us so that we start killing eachother off. WW3 is coming y'all. Way sooner than anyone wants it to .
Either way, we're going to FUBAR Earth until we have to move. Mars needs to be colonized NOW. From Mars, we need to expand. Ten bucks says in five years we have a major catastrophy, larger than earthquakes and 9/11. I'm talking China, North Korea, the entire Middle East unleashing the hellhounds on the free world and the next ice age hits halfway through the war.
We are screwed, and I just want to go up and mine some asteroids off my little Martian mining depot while you guys duke it out. See ya... WHOOOOOOSH!!!!
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Did you ever see the movie "Aliens",
Where all the people are running and a launch return vehicle is coming for them, to take them back to the space ship and it crashes on the service and this solder in the background keeps repeating "We're Screwed MAN! We're screwed! You kind of remind me of him.
Try to be like the little girl in the movie, be smart, know your reality and just survive!
This is why I like these info-graphics.
They present data in language a chimp could understand, and I get to watch the mental gymnastics people employ to ignore what is right in front of them.
The USofA is a net energy exporter. Yes, we are 5% of the world's population and consume heavily, yet we produce one third of the world's food. Why else can we aford to burn corn in our cars?
Sure, we import oil, but the Middle East imports food - it is not a one way cycle. If America stopped exporting food how much of the world would starve?
Yes, we eat more food, more meat, and more energy - but that is due to lower costs due to domestic production. We are not stealing half starved 3rd world chickens for our McNuggets - we are eating fat, corn fed chickens bred for rapid growth and efficiency.
All the US imports is labor (in foreign made goods) and energy (primarely from Canada). If America could survive without those imports through domestic industry and energy production - then America would be the most sustainable country on Earth.
Sustainability must be seen as resources - consumption over time, not merely as consumption / person. If a country's people would, without foriegn aid, consume their resources to the dirt in a generation - then they are not sustainable no matter how low the consumption rate might be.
What's really telling about this infographic is this:
Costa Rica: 19,700 square miles
United States: 3,790,000 square miles
Costa Rica: 1.4 Earths
United States: 4.1 Earths
Which nation really has a problem???
Another example of misinformation giving rise to more misinformation. Yes, the USA is wasteful. No, we are not the devil among saints.
The math of these simple graphics here doesnt work.
This shows countries like Bangladesh, India and Uganda consuming more resources than 10x their footprint. China, Europe, US, Middle East, all consuming 1-5x the entire foot print of the earth.
So who is left NOT consuming more? Im pretty sure Tibet and South Africa arent exporting burgers and computers to everyone else.
If you averaged out these charts humanity would have already have consumed 3-4 earth's. Some may argue that case but its not the same as what they are trying to say here.
What a load of bull. boo Emily
Hey Emily, looks like you might need to dumb down this graphic even further.
Just don't ask me how, maybe do it in crayon on a living room wall.