By Hwaa Irfan
As we move towards overdrive when it comes to consumption, especially during times of celebration and festivities, we forget (that is if we were aware in the first place) that there is a limit to everything. Keeping an eye on the patterns of our consumption, is the NASA research group led by Marc Imhoff. Their last records cover the period from 1982 – 2007. They found:
- The average person in the U.S. consumes 6 tons of plant-based carbon annually
- The average person in South-East Asia consumes 2 tons of plant-based carbon annually
If everyone was to consume at the same rate as North America, within a few decades we would be consuming 50% of the earth’s plant-based carbon annually. This is becoming an oft repeated altruism. South East Asia, a region consumes a third of what the U.S. a country consumes – what an indictment. But looking at country-to-country for 2010, the population looks like this:
- China – 1,338 million
- India – 1.189 million
- U.S. – 310 million
Yet the U.S. remains the country with the highest rate of consumption!
“The question is, ‘How hard are we pushing the land?'” Imhoff said to Science Daily.
This question should also be posed to the U.N., multinational companies, the World Bank, and governments who are spending/investing millions in using plants as a source for alternative fuel or biomass. The logic seems evasive especially during a deep global economic crisis when essential cutbacks are being made, employment difficult for some, and price rises on essentials is making life extremely difficult for those on low income and the unemployed. Certain governments are using taxpayers money as hush money for developing countries so that developing countries foot the bill to reduce carbon emissions, and make developments according to climate change, and still be the biomass, food, and mineral resource that will help the developed countries to return to a stable economy, while developed countries continue with their high carbon emissions, high exploitation of the earth resources, and high consumption to the detriment of the earth, and the health of the global population.
To gather the incriminating evidence for 1982n- 2009, the NASA research team used records from satellites from the Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer, and the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer as well as analysis of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.
Each of us need to look at what we consume, whether it is essential, and if not whether the benefits are long term, or just makes us feel better. If the item just makes us feel better, then the lack is not material, but psycho-spiritual!
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2010, December 16). How hard are we pushing the land? Plant consumption rising significantly as population grows and economies develop. http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/12/101215102316.htm
Population Reference Bureau. “2010 World Population Data Sheet.” http://www.prb.org