//Disclaimer – I harbor no ill will toward people based completely on economic status.//
“Descartes said that The rich were thieves, and the common man was too dumb to know it. I like Descartes. Much has been said about how large the carbon foot print is of those who live in the west. The average carbon foot print is about 17tons here in North America. It is about 10 tons for our European cousins. There has also been some research about how developing nations are at sustainability projects. A lot of the sustainability can come from development. More efficient farms make better use of the land and so on.
It’s key here to know the difference from development and consumerism. They are not connected. Consumerism is a choice, whereas development is simply a progress.
Since primitive farming techniques account for 13% of environmental damage as sourced by the WWF http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/sus_agriculture/
Economic and Social status has a lot to do materialism in western cultures, we’ll examine the life style of the very rich, the very poor, and the middle; to see which is more sustainable. Spoilers:: No one wins; we all live on the same planet.
Lets start out with the Rich. Some over populated countries have an automotive use rationing system. The logic being that if you only drive every other day it will cut emissions. Many rich Chinese people simply but two cars to skirt the system. I’d love to use China as an example but their less liberal with sharing real automotive data than they are, say KILLING POLITICAL DISSIDENTS TO HARVEST THEIR ORGANS.
The math would look something like this. Take the amount of people skirting the rule with multiple car ownership. Find the average amount of Carbon emissions in China from automotive use, then take the percentage of the rule skirting rich population and divide by half. Then you’d have the amount of pollution you’d not have from these people. It wouldn’t matter to them most likely anyway, they’ll probably just rip the lungs out of some poor protestor fighting corrupt land grabs. And they’ll probably drive their OTHER Audi home.
We could probably go into the Saudi Royal family’s embodied wasteful life style, but the king just died so they get a pass this week.
The middle class with its nascent consumerism fairs no better. That toothbrush you use is part of the 4.7 billion plastic tooth brushes produced every year. Some simple math here a tooth brush weighs 25 grams X 4.7billion = 2.59×10^8 pounds. Buy a sustainable tooth brush. Since I’m guilty of never thinking about how much plastic goes into my oral cleanliness habit passes to the middle class this week too.
The poor are an easy target. And I personally find nothing funny about the plight of poverty but this picture is ridiculous.
See all that green missing in Haiti? It’s because they never read The Lorax as children and cut down all the forests. Not even to build stuff, it was mostly to cook with. The cost of poverty with modern populations is tremendous and the environment pays the bill. Poverty is an enemy of sustainability.
As much as the callous wealthy disregard the efforts to create sustainability for their own comfort and egos. As little as the consumerist middle class thinks about their actions. As dire the struggle to escape poverty causes the environment to be depleted. Each in your own way contributes to the unsustainable course we are on.