The Consumption Elephant

There are 5 Elephants in the Room in North America that even the most candid of politicians have not dared to mention accept in passing. Yes, even the frankness of  President Barack Obama has barely touched on these issues. The first and foremost of those elephants in the North American room  is the profligate and wasteful consumption by North Americans(Canada and  the USA). North Americans have barely 5% of the World’s population but  in energy and other resources they consume 7 times more than the rest of the world per capita , 2-3 times more than Europe, and 7 times more than China. North Americans are not just overweight in body, but also soul.

In fact, one of the critical causes of the current credit crunch has been the over-consumption by North  Americans predicated on home/house values always going up and so savings rates in the past 5 years had dropped in the US to nearly zero.  Increases in house values was “doing all the savings  work for us” was one popular sentiment.  But as the studies above show North Americans are over-consumers of diverse resources:  energy, meat, and limited metal resources. Worse they are worst in the developed World in recycling their wastes.  Not a pretty scene.


Thus it has been of interest to see the  NYTimes approach the issue in a  sly way. It  has raised the subject with a story about a viral video that has gained not only YouTube popularity but also acceptance in the grade and high school teaching communities. The video is about the pitfalls of North American, and particularly US consumption patterns. This is essential information about a North American social economic pattern that cannot continue indefinitely – a sort of  Conservative, perhaps Republican invigorated notion that for being the Beacon on the Hill, having reluctantly fought Two World Wars  and being the World’s peacepkeepers, having lead innovation and capitalistic innovation and success for the passt 100 years – somehow North Americans have an entitlement – to be overweight in body, consumption and soul if they so chose.

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