Walking, biking, or using mass transits are ways for us to avoid using our cars which produce 22 pounds of CO2 emissions as well as other greenhouse gases per gallon consumed. Driving much slower and using conservative braking during traffic jams could potentially smooth out traffic and fix the problem. Turning off the faucet while brushing our teethes could save up to 30 gallons a week.
That’s absurd. As an entitled American, I hate waiting around for a bus or rubbing shoulders with a stranger, I hate being in the hot/cold weather and breaking a sweat. I hate being cut-off in traffic and losing my place; even if the traffic jam is compounded later at least I won’t be late to my meeting. Turning off the faucet? You gotta be kidding me…
That might have been an exaggeration of our behaviors as Americans, but it is true. Why else are we the eleventh highest nation in energy use per capita (kg of oil equivalent per capita) at 7164.46, which is really higher. Iceland is the highest user because of its use of cheap or free thermal energy for heating and many of the Middle eastern countries rank higher because of mass oil production. To highlight the discrepancy between us and the world the difference between our per capita energy consumption and the world’s is 308 million MMBTU per capita – that is a huge difference.
Our attitudes and behaviors play a huge role in this glutinous use of energy and resources. We live in a society that is moving faster and faster. Our busy schedules give us the excuse to cut corners. Our entitlement gives us the power to buy the quicker and more convenient method. Our apathy towards our environment and fellow human beings give us the blindness to consequences of our selfish choices.
We turn to technology instead as the Savior of our problems. If we just had better [fill in the blank], our lives would be much better and we would also be environmentally friendly. We want more efficient cars that use electricity or get more miles per gallon. We want better traffic technology that gets rid of the thousands of hours that we lose on the road. We want better faucet that save water.
In reality, our behaviors are just as strong as the technology that we want. If we just made these small changes in our lives we could save. For example what if we used reusable canvas bags instead of plastic or paper bags (well Austin has taken care of that problem by forcing us to use reusable bags)? The average American family uses about 60 plastic bags per 4 trips to your local supermarket, but the worst part about this statistic is that only roughly up to 3% of these bags are actually recycled. These plastic bags then litter our beautiful land; each square mile of ocean contains probably 46,000 pieces of plastic and they remain toxic as they slowly degrade (1000 years) on our soil and water. That problem has a very simple solution that would eliminate 100% plastic use. I personally started using a reusable canvas bag and I’ve only had to use plastic once or twice to bag extra groceries in 1 year. Honesty the question is “are you willingly to stop being so lazy and just bring a canvas bag to your shopping trips?”.
Webber, ETP Lecture: ETP Introduction Spring 2013