Consumerism is the most powerful driver of climate change.
As Americans we constitute 5% of the world’s population but we consume a quarter of the world’s energy. The average American will be responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions by their first birthday than a person in Tanzania generates in a lifetime. To see the staggering statistics of what an average American consumes in a lifetime, click here.
Our consumption continues to keep accelerating. It grew 10% in the ten years preceding 2006. This rise has resulted in a dramatic increase in resource extraction, which is decimating the world ecosystem and dumping billions of tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere each year.
In order for us to successfully combat climate change we have to rethink our consumer culture and come to terms with the fact that we live on a finite planet that cannot support infinite demands. We need to push a “reset” button on our cultural values because what we’re doing is just not sustainable.
That doesn’t mean we all have to become ascetics but it does mean that we have to be more conscious of what we consume and do our part to make changes where we can, like buying smaller cars, choosing homes that require less energy, making our homes energy efficient and buying our food locally.
To learn more about the type of changes that are being made around the world, please read a report from the WorldWatch Institute, “Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability” that explores dozens of innovative efforts around the world that are making the kinds of changes we need. Please check out the Carbon Neutral Catskills section on this website to learn more about what you can do to lower your carbon footprint.