National Geographic in cooperation with the polling company GlobeScan released their "Greendex 2008: Consumer Choice and the Environment—A Worldwide Tracking Survey" today. In it, countries were not judged by their environmental impact, but by the individual behavior of their citizens based in four categories: housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods. A determination was then made as to how sustainable the practices were.
Brazilians and Indians each scored 60 on the sustainable-consumption scale. Citizens of other nations scored as follows: China (56.1); Mexico (54.3); Hungary (53.2); Russia (52.4); Great Britain, Germany and Australia (each at 50.2); Spain (50); Japan (49.1); France (48.7); Canada (48.5); and the U.S. (44.9).Poor folk may want to consume more and improve their lives, but enviros have judged that the poor people of the Earth have the most sustainable living practices. They live in small dwellings, often mud huts or tents made of the skins of animals they've raised as food. They have neither constant electricity sources, nor dependable clean water for drinking and cleaning. They do have high infant mortality rates and high incidence of death by disease.
Housing factors included dwelling size; energy use for heating, cooling, and appliances; and water needs. Brazilians topped this category because they typically have smaller homes, rarely use air conditioning or heating, and rely heavily on on-demand, tankless water-heating systems.
Transportation behaviors measured included ownership rates and average usage of motorized vehicles, length of daily commutes, and utilization of public transport. Chinese scored highest on transportation, because, at least for now, most rely on bicycles or walking and drive few motorized vehicles per capita.
The foods category polled consumers on their consumption of locally produced foods, as well as their relative consumption of bottled water, meat, and seafood—products that typically have high environmental impact. Indians had the greenest food habits because they consume little meat and eat many fruits and vegetables.
The goods category looked at the items that people typically buy, reuse, and discard—including both day-to-day purchases and larger items such as televisions. Consumer preference for environmentally friendly products and packaging, as well as overall levels of personal consumption, were also considered.
"The biggest concern I have is that [it appears to be] a kind of inverse poverty scale. When you look at the map you can see that the poorest countries are ranked the best, and the richest are ranked the worst," said environmental consultant Michael Brower, co-author of the Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"The poorest people in the poorest countries would love to consume more."
But, at least it's sustainable. And that is all that counts to the enviros. The poor people of the Earth must remain poor, filthy, and poor. Not only that, but the wealthy people of the Earth, the people to whom the poor look for their example of a better way of life for themselves and the children, must also become poor, filthy, and poor. he best sustainability plan is that all mankind becomes the noble savage of whom Rousseau wrote, but never really believed in.
The real questions that should be asked are about helping the developing world enter sustained prosperity without the long periods of hyper-pollution the West experienced. No one should be looking to return the human species to the conditions of the pre-industrial age. Not even the Islamofascist really want to return to the 7th Century as exhibited by their mastery of modern technologies. But, environmentalists seem to be quite adamant about the destruction of all that mankind has done and are are more than ready to throw the baby out with bath water.
During the Vietnam War, a US military officer was asked why he had ordered the total destruction of a village. Famously he replied, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." Do we really have to destroy the human beings in order to save the planet? For many enviros, the answer is yes.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.