American Consumerism and the Global Environment
Effects of Consumption on the Global Environment


So what do American Consumerism and the Condition of the Global Environment have to do with each other?
American consumption (and the production processes that are required to fuel it) is the biggest contributor to environmental destruction. The United Nations' Human Development Report 1998 (UNDP Report) states that "Runaway growth in consumption in the past fifty years is putting strains on the environment never before seen."
Americans consume at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country, and thus are the primary contributors to environmental issues caused by unsustainable consumption; issues such as forest destruction, ozone depletion, water and grain shortages, and soil loss.
Rising levels of greenhouse gasses come from harmful chemicals such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. These chemicals are produced from processes necessary to fuel American consumption, including factories that create massive amounts of smoke, forest destruction, and soil erosion. Almost all of the products we consume (aside from food) are produced in a factory somewhere, and factories don’t just emit smoke. Over 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used in production, and almost none of these have been tested for their effect on the environment. U.S. industries admit to emitting over 4,000,000,000lbs of pollution a year and produce 22% of world's total industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

Extensive destruction of forests (Caused by things such as human-induced fires, agricultural expansion, logging, and road-building) is necessary for fuel and, primarily, paper products. This prevents the Earth’s atmosphere from cleaning itself. Massive erosion (partially caused by deforestation) is causing a loss of topsoil and, thus, a drop in the Earth’s ability to produce food crops.
The global environment is being destroyed by processes that exist primarily to fuel Americans’ desperate need to constantly consume.  Without constant American consumption the environment would have time to replenish the resources it provides for us.