If you believe that the challenges mentioned above only happen in the 3rd world, you might want to think again.
In the United States, we have several challenges of our own.
Here are just a few of them:
Fossil fuels provide more than 80% of the energy used in the United States. Oil powers 95% of the transportation while natural gas powers 40% of the buildings. We didn’t use oil and natural gas for these activities just 150 years ago. And we won’t do it in another 150 years either, as there will be no more oil and natural gas by then.
Now, imagine an economy running on 5% of today’s transportation fleet and with more than half of the buildings with no cooling, heating and lighting. A very dark image indeed.
The mighty Colorado River carries the lifeblood of the Southwest. It services the water needs of 40 million people living within an area the size of France. Human demand siphons off every bit of water. At its mouth, the riverbed has become nothing but dust.
The Colorado flows into Lake Mead which, in turn, feeds the Hoover Dam. The elevation of Lake Mead used to be 1,219 feet. Today is 1,086 feet and dropping by ten feet a year. At this trend, in four years it will fall below 1,050 feet and Hoover Dam’s turbines will shut down… along with the lights of the 1.7 million homes powered by these turbines, including many in California and all of Las Vegas.
During the last 25 years the U.S. has seen 41 million acres of land lost to suburban sprawl (single-family homes, highways, malls, etc.). An astounding rate of one acre per minute.
Our soils grow too salty for crop production while industrial farming depletes the soil of vitamins and minerals that are essential for the human body.
Scientists predict that 80% of the forests that existed worldwide in the 1850s will have been permanently lost within the next 15 years; while one in four mammals faces extinction and 90% of the large fish are already gone.
Currently humanity uses 30% more of the planet’s natural resources than we can replace. Even worse, if everyone wished to live like the average North American, we’d need five planets Earth to pull it off.