It has been noted with concern that if all earth’s inhabitants lived as Americans do, we would need 5 earths for livelihood to be catered for. The self-proclaimed ‘greatest nation’ is a hive for activities that range from sports to scientific research and industrialization.
The US is also among the countries with a diverse population composed of various races from almost every part of the world. With such a big population and being one of the most developed countries, studies show that the American lifestyle demands many resources from mother earth. If this lifestyle were a universal trend globally, then humanity on this planet would need 5 earths to live like an American.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans are responsible for more than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meat consumption is a major factor in this, as livestock production contributes 15 million tons of CO2 equivalents annually.
The EPA also says that if every person consumed as Americans do, we would need 5 Earths to sustain it. This blog post will explore why we need to reduce our meat consumption and how you can help fight global warming by conserving energy at home and using public transportation whenever possible!
According to the Earth Overshoot Day organization, the US is absorbing many resources compared to other nations. The nation is leading by miles when it comes to demanding more services from our environment. A comparison with other developed countries concluded how the Americans have the lion’s share of the planet.
This is a constant occurrence in which the Americans’ living conditions will always take more resources than other people across the globe. Americans have made significant changes to their surroundings, occupied millions of hectares for residential and industrial establishments, and have continued expanding into developing themselves even more.
As a nation with intense development, the US amass many momentous improvements and is commonly held as a yardstick for ‘proper’ development in some areas. If the wish to become like America is granted for every soul, then earth might need to bring forth its siblings so that everyone can behave in space.
Massive projects related to industries, mega factories, research laboratories, education institutions, parliament and government buildings, sporting grounds, military operations, lavish residents, modernized resorts areas, and contemporary architectural infrastructure are some of the facilities that fill America. Basically, it is involved in a lot of undertakings that swallow more from nature.
The Earth Overshoot Day organization conducted the calculations utilizing a research question formulated as “How many Earths would we need if everyone on the planet lived like the residents of your country?”. Then the US was used as an example to determine how many earths are needed if everyone adopts the American way of life.
It was stated that humans are using nature 1,7 times faster than the earth’s regenerating more resources and services. In the example outlined, the US has an Ecological Footprint of 8,1 gha per person (in 2017) and a global biocapacity of 1,6 gha per person (in 2017), so 8,1 divided by 1,6 equals 5 earths that would be needed for the American life to be sufficient for everyone [Source].
They used the same formula for other developed and industrialized states, and the following outcomes were recorded: Denmark – 4,3 earths, South Korea – 3,8 earths, Germany – 2,9 earths, UK – 2,6 earths, China – 2,3 earths, Brazil – 1,8 earths and Indonesia – 1,1 earths [Source].
It is surprising that the world’s ‘biggest polluter,’ China, is behind the US overusing resources. It was revealed how the Chinese are emitting about 14 gigatons of CO2-equivalent in 2019, which translates to 27% of the global emissions.
The US was the second-highest emitter with 11%, and other developed countries such as Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and Australia averaging between 7%-6% [Source]. This means that a bigger Ecological Footprint is not necessarily linked to industrialization but is fed by various factors, including forest, grazing lands, fishing grounds, cultivating the land, and mining.
Earth Overshoot Day “marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year,” and for this year, it was on 29 July [Source].
The Ecological Footprint entails the measurement of “the ecological assets that a given population or product requires to produce the natural resources it consumes (including plant-based based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure) and to absorb its waste, especially carbon emissions,” and biocapacity “represents the productivity of its (a nation’s) ecological assets.”
From these aspects, the US was found to be a gobbling nation needing a family of earths if the world lived like Americans, and it unravels a lot of information regarding resources use.
The US Meat consumption is over 100 pounds per person. On average, the world’s meat consumption is 55 lbs, and India comes in at just 27lbs. The earth would need to produce more than three times as much agricultural feedstock if everyone ate like Americans do — this includes crops grown for animal feed, livestock fodder, or human food imports.
The use of oil is one of the most pressing environmental issues, and the US is by far one of the world’s largest consumers. Americans use 19 gallons per person per day for their cars, while most Europeans only need about half that amount. The earth could not sustain all this oil if everyone lived as America does–Americans alone would require an additional 64 million barrels a day to power the machinery used.
Parts of the world are still without clean water. America has 24,000 liters per day available for their consumption. Should everyone live as America does — the world would need four times more water than it can provide.
Fossil Fuel Consumption
A study showed that in 2007 Americans consumed on average 22 tons of fossil fuel each year. This is about six and a half barrels of oil. The use of fossil fuels is not sustainable and is already destroying the environment.
If everyone lived like America, not only would we be using an outrageous amount of fossil fuel but also contributing to Global Warming.
In 2010 humans emitted more than 32 billion tons of CO-equivalent (COE) into the atmosphere. If this trend continues by 2050, it will have exceeded 40 billion.
The use of plastic in America is at an all-time high. The average American throws away 14 pounds of plastic per year, which equates to about 365 billion pieces of plastic in the ocean each year. Plastic takes 500 years to biodegrade, and as it breaks down into smaller fragments, it accumulates toxins from the environment, which are then consumed by wildlife.
How Do We Compare to other countries?
We need no telling that the United States is the largest consumer of plastic globally and has by far the highest carbon footprint. America’s high consumption levels directly affect its population, which consumes more calories per person than any other country globally, with only about 17% of that being from vegetables.
– Meat Consumption: The average family in the US eats between 600 and 800 pounds of meat a year. Meat takes more energy to produce than plants because it requires extra land to produce feed crops such as corn or soybeans.
– Conservation: The average person in America produces about 20 gallons per day of wastewater, while less than one gallon is used by people who live in some of the most water-stressed areas of the world.
How much water is used to produce the food we eat?
- Meat: Meat production requires between six to fifteen times more water than vegetables.
- Dairy: Producing milk for one glass of milk in the US takes about 200 gallons, or 800 pounds of grain and 250 gallons (950 liters) of water while producing glass in India only uses 50% of that amount at 100 gallons (455 liters) of water.
How much water is used to produce the clothes we wear?
- Cotton: Producing one T-shirt in the US takes about 700 gallons (2625 liters) of water while producing a shirt locally needs only 60% that amount at 350 gallons (1300 liters).
How much gas is used for transportation
Our modes of transportation are responsible for approximately 20,000 pounds of CO emissions.
- Food: Producing a pound of beef in the US takes 1625 gallons (6875 liters), and producing that same amount locally would only take 230 gallons (950 liters).
The average American consumes 55% more calories than someone living in the developing world. Meat is a massive part of this.
- Meat Consumption: Americans consume 270 pounds (122 kilograms) of beef per person every year.
- Conservation: The US produces enough food to feed about four times the population, yet we waste 40% of that which is grown and a total of $165 billion worth annually.
- Global Warming: Meat production takes up more land space than other forms of food production. It places a great cost on the environment.
Americans are the worst offenders of living as if there were no consequences for their actions.
We live in a society that people do not think about how they impact those around them, and this is one big example.
How many miles of carbon emissions are produced by the average American in a year?
Carbon emissions are growing at an alarming rate even as we see more countries taking steps to reverse their effects. Meat Consumption is the largest source of those emissions.
We have a responsibility to not just think about our own needs and desires, but we must also consider how they impact others. This is one big way that Meat Consumption has an impact on all of us.
Vehicles produce massive carbon emissions, but Meat Consumption produces more emissions than the transportation sector.
A whopping 40% of all agricultural land is used for livestock grazing and raising, which means less available for other crops to be grown on it. Meat consumption also contributes to deforestation because they need trees chopped down to create more room for cattle pastures or soy.