This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Per capita electricity usage remains far higher in the U.S. than much of the world, despite our many technological improvements of past decades.

Indonesia... 564
India... 543
World Average... 2,752
China... 2,328
Germany... 7,185
Japan... 8,475
Australia... 11, 216
USA... 13,616
Sweden... 15,238
United Arab Emirates... 16,161



The fact is that changes in technology, if not accompanied by changes in regulatory policy and behavior, often have little or no effect on resource consumption. In fact, they often accelerate the rate of harm. Why? Because, according to researchers, new technology typically falls into one of three categories: explorative (which helps us find new resources), extractive (which helps us get at more resources), and end-use, which helps us use resources of more efficiently. Unfortunately, only end-use technology has a positive environmental impact— an effect that can be negligible, unless it takes place in a steady-state economy, not the pro-growth economy typical in almost every industrial nation.

If the growth paradigm is the biggest obstacle to technology’s potential for ecological good, human behavior is a close runner-up. Psychologists note that when a person acts in what he believes is an environmentally conscious manner—such as buying a Prius–he actually drives the new car more than the old one, because he feels he has “earned” a green dividend. An article by Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Xhong in Psychological Science found this unfortunate “moral licensing” kicks in as soon as we make a green purchase.

“People act more altruistically after mere exposure to green than conventional products. However, people act less altruistically and are more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing green products as opposed to conventional products.”

The Big Fix
Can we change human behavior? The alternative, according, to many, is devastating climate change and even our own extinction. Architect Edward Mazria ( joins most of the science community in the belief that we have a narrow window in which to redesign our buildings and our lifestyles. But Mazria in some ways is an optimist. He’s a believer in something called the 2030 Challenge (—a plan to reduce our environmental impacts through redesign of our existing infrastructure.

“Of the top 30 architecture engineering plants in the country, 73% have adopted the 2030 Challenge,” he says. “We’ve done it all over the country already, in schools, houses. We know it can be done.” With U.S. buildings consuming 40% of our national energy drain, he says, the building industry has the ability to solve a huge part of the current environmental crisis.

“We’re polluting the silence,” Mazria says. “We need to go back and consult nature as we design our buildings, in a way that dramatically cuts how they use fossil fuel. The most powerful instrument for change on the planet is the designer’s pen.”

But what about the mind that controls that pen? Clive Dilnot, a professor at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, says the power to change the world is latent in our minds, but we’re wasting it.

Dilnot calls the modern era the “age of the artificial,” because (I’m paraphrasing here) we have had the ability to destroy the world almost instantly (and have since 1945)—yet we’ve chosen not to exercise that ability. Thus, our very existence is a conscious choice–but that also infers that because the future of the planet is already dependent on human thought, our generation has the power to create whatever sort of future it desires.

Now that the world has gone digital, Dilnot says, this psychological dilemma is even worse. “Even when reality was rooted in nature, we acted irresponsibly,” he says. Now that it’s rooted in the artificial (“and we don’t yet know what the artificial is”), all bets about human behavior and actions are off . “We control the temperatures in our homes,” he says.


While pundits often blame India and China as the primary culprits in CO2 production, every U.S. citizen adds a higher per-capita burden to the atmosphere.

Indonesia... 1.67
India... 1.18
World Average... 4.38
China... 4.57
Germany... 9.71
Japan... 9.68
Australia... 18.75
USA... 19.1
Sweden... 5.05
United Arab Emirates... 29.91


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74