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Third World Consumption in a First World City - Part 1 - WHY

Often times you’ll hear environmentalists, economists, ecologists, engineers, enthusiasts, eloquent orators and devious demagogues, talk about consumption. They write reports that state things like “the consumption of roundwood to meet the needs of U.S. customers (including fuelwood) increased from 19.1 billion cubic feet in 1997 to 20 billion cubic feet in 1999,” and “production of wood products, paper products, and fuelwood required an increase in roundwood harvest from U.S. forests of 1.4% per year from 1965 to 1994.”(1) Maybe you’ve heard the one about the U.S. military consuming 320 thousand barrels of oil per day in 2006, or in that same year, the Department of Defense consumed 1100 trillion Btu of energy. For comparison, 1,000 Btu equals about the same amount of energy as is contained in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Maybe that’s not a good comparison. How about, “Nigeria, with a population of more than 140 million, (thats nearly half of the U.S. pop.) consumes as much energy as the U.S. military.”(2) Or consider that the U.S. as a whole consumes 80 quadrillion Btu’s annually. (3) Anyway you slice it or spread it there seems to be an imbalance out there. Maybe a simple table would offer some insight:

Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998:

Global Priority

$U.S. Billions

Cosmetics in the United States

8

Ice cream in Europe

11

Perfumes in Europe and the United States

12

Pet foods in Europe and the United States

17

Business entertainment in Japan

35

Cigarettes in Europe

50

Alcoholic drinks in Europe

105

Narcotics drugs in the world

400

Military spending in the world

780