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Colliding worlds

April 15 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

My niece, Kat McCourt, sends me a myriad of interesting reads. A month or so ago she sent me the Jared Diamond piece in the NYT titled "What’s Your Consumption Factor?"

It wrestles with the economic and natural resources extrapolation of the image to the left.

Essentially the piece explores the fact that first world locations (US, Western Europe, Japan...) consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, at a rate about 32 times higher than they are in the developing world.

32.

It sets up the challenge as all developing world nations have their own version of the "American" dream (cars, house, Mac, etc). No country wants to stay poor, without access to clean water or healthcare. Even Surfrider's mission "...protection of oceans, waves and beaches for all people..." points to "all people" having equal access. This along with the fact that a few years ago we had four or five entities outside the US and today we have twenty. We are smack dab in the middle of this, from multiple angles.

Once you embrace the "32" point... you quickly find yourself understanding that the math simply doesn't work out. There aren't enough natural resources to go around, not enough planets for us to draw from for this to happen. This point isn't new. Friedman and others have waxed on about this for a while. Where Mr. Guns, Germs and Steel goes further with his piece is to build out the argument for what happens when other developing nations hit the natural resource limitation/ceiling.

This all points to the inevitable truth that we, as a planet, will embrace sustainable and innovative practices. It also suggests that maybe we'll stop supersizing for the sake of supersizing.

Stop reading this post, read this.

image: Oliver Munday/ NYT
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