shop til you cause global calamity

I was just in Australia, spending some love miles (my wife is an Aussie) but also giving some talks, and while there I was interviewed by a journalist named Wendy Frew from the Sydney Morning Herald. She did a nice piece (August 9) on Greenhouse Development Rights called “Rich will have to help poor to save climate,” which is perhaps notable for containing the dulcet phrase “coal is the enemy of mankind.”

But that’s not what I’m writing about.

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What I’m writing about is another article by Ms. Frew, dated August 19, this one called “Top suburbs costing the Earth.” Here’s the lead:

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SHOPPING has been exposed as the big culprit in rising water use and greenhouse-gas emissions — and Sydney’s most affluent suburbs are the worst offenders.

New data shows the electricity and water used to produce everything people buy — from food and clothing to CDs and electrical appliances — far outweighs any efforts to save water and power in the home, according to an extensive analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the University of Sydney.

Wealthy families in suburbs such as Woollahra, North Sydney, Mosman, and Ku-ring-gai, who can afford to install solar power and large water tanks, still have the biggest ecological footprint because of the goods and services they buy.

Shopping habits represent such a large part of greenhouse-gas emissions that even if every household switched to renewable energy and stopped driving cars tomorrow, total household emissions would fall by less than 20 percent, the study found. On average, every additional dollar of consumption was responsible for 720 grams of greenhouse gas emissions and 28 litres of water.

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It’s not very long, but well worth reading, and it’s based on a footprint calculator that was developed by the Australian Conservation Foundation. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything quite like it here in the U.S. of A.

Wonder how long I’ll have to wait?