Could Eco Friendly Clothing Help Reduce Global Warming?
In the recent release of The Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2010 report, consumerism was called out as the main cause of the world’s current environmental issues, from climate change to unsustainable depletion of natural resources. In other words, there is simply not enough to go around, and the demand for resources is going up exponentially compared to the Earth’s population. This means not only are there more people to compete with for resources, but everyone is asking for more than their preceding generation. As it stands today, and since so many individuals are living far below their means, we would need one and one-third planets to meet our basic demands.
So who are the over-consuming offenders? It really boils down to about seven percent of the world’s population (roughly 500 million people) who are responsible for greater then 50 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions. On the other end, 50 percent of the world’s population (three billion people) is only responsible for six percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
At the top of the heap of over-consumers is North America, whose citizens consume twice as much in natural resources as the average European.
It has been well documented that carbon dioxide emissions are the major cause of global warming, as 72 percent of total emitted greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, and the rate at which the world increases its carbon dioxide emissions is three percent annually. In 2005, the world-wide average of carbon dioxide emissions per capita was four tons annually. However, for North America the per-capita average was 20 tons. Most experts believe that by 2050, to avoid an environmental catastrophe, the world-wide average must get below two tons per capita, which also means that North Americans will have to reduce their emissions by far more than 50 percent to obtain a lower world-wide average. Since North Americans are the largest contributors; they also bear the greatest responsibility.
In order to understand what is causing greenhouse gas emissions, we can look at a breakdown of harmful emissions by sector. Isolating carbon dioxide emissions, we find that over 20 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions stems from Industrial processes – that is the manufacturing of goods for consumers. This contribution is larger than transportation (19.2 percent) or land use/biomass burning and residential/commercial uses combined (17.5 percent).
So it does matter from where we buy our goods, how much we buy and the buying decisions we make. If we continue to demand cheap, disposable goods, we are allowing ourselves to be part of the global warming problem. By saying yes to eco friendly clothing, organic produce and, low emission vehicles we are doing our part to help drive positive changes which in turn can help turn the tide on global warming.
The reality is, our planet has finite resources and a finite ability to absorb the pollution we create. If we do not get off this consumerism treadmill and soon, the effects of global warming will be far reaching and all encompassing and long lasting.