The data now backs up the belief I’ve long held about those individuals at the lower end of the affluent and higher education spectrum and their impact on the planet. It doesn’t take a graduate degree in systems design to understand that more education and more wealth OFTEN equate to more spending and a larger ecological footprint. I know and work with many highly educated and wealthy individuals who express their status through vacations, multiple cars, large houses, boats, etc.
On the other hand, I once had a conversation with a friend of mine that was exasperated over the idea of sacrificing any more of her personal comfort for the good of the planet. I assured her, she was the least of the problem, with her 700 sq. ft. house, $50 electric bill, and paid for, 40 mpg car. Could she do more? Sure, we can always do more, but the fact is, the greatest contribution to solving environmental and social injustices needs to come from the top 5% most affluent Westerners. This also correlates with the concept of population control. We may think that people with multiple children in developing countries are creating the squeeze on resources, but it takes approximately 32 Kenyans to equal the resource use of one person living in the US.
So, the next time someone thinks they are “serious” about the plight of the planet because they ditched their car for a Prius or booked an “eco-vacation” to the Himalayas, I’m going to remind them that they can’t consume their way to ecological footprint reduction that easily.