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Americans least environmental, according to a new survey

Americans least environmental, according to a new survey

Americans least environmental, according to a new survey
Jeremy Hance,
May 9, 2008

A survey, entitled Greendex, by National Geographic and GlobeScan has found that out of fourteen developed and developing nations, American lifestyles are the least environmentally sustainable. The Canadians and French rounded out the bottom three. On the opposite side, Brazil and India tie as the most ‘green” of the nations surveyed. The survey found a clear distinction between developing and developed nations’ consumption of resources and energy with developing nations more sustainable than developed nations and more concerned about the environment in general.

“The Greendex initiative is ground-breaking,” said Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan. “Never before has such a comprehensive survey been applied across a wide range of countries to scientifically track consumer behaviors related to the environment. While other surveys look at attitudes and intentions, the Greendex tracks actions that matter.”

The survey measured the size of homes, the amount of energy spent in heating and/or cooling homes, the number and types of appliances and electronic devices, the modes of transportation employed, the types of food consumed, consumption habitats of non-essential items, and one’s beliefs regarding the environment. The survey found that those in the developing world were more aware of how their choices affected their environment and more likely to take action; they were also found to be more likely to purchase products based on their environmental footprint, even though such products were more readily available to developed nations. However, the study also found that those in the developing world desired the consumer lifestyle of those in the West.

According to the survey, Americans proved particularly wasteful. They have the largest homes of any in the study. They are the least likely to use transportation like walking, biking, buses, or trains. They are the least likely to consume local foods and their diets are heavy in meat (especially beef)—the most resource and energy intensive food—and low in fruits and vegetables.

Despite such lifestyles, Americans were second (only after the French) to state that the economic problems was the nation”s largest concern. Only 17 percent strongly believed that global warming would have a negative impact on their life, while 64 percent of Brazilians believed it. At the same time Americans were the least likely to answer correctly the question: “What is the primary cause of recently measured increases in earth”s temperature?”.

The survey is the first to look at individual’s consumer choices, rather than viewing each nation as a whole. “The Greendex gives us an unprecedented, meaningful look at how consumers across the globe are behaving,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president of Mission Programs. “It will allow us over time to assess the progress that people are making to conserve, minimize waste and protect natural resources for the future. Consumers who score highest have a responsibility to maintain their behavior and provide an example to those who need to improve. We hope the study inspires all consumers, particularly those in countries where consumers scored lowest, to adopt the best behaviors of those who scored well, and that consumers in countries with expanding economies, who may consume more in the future, will do so responsibly.”

The study suggested that people can lower their Greendex by eating less meat and drinking less bottled water; ensuring their houses are energy efficient and keeping the heat and air conditioning at lower settings; owning less televisions and computers; and driving less and using more mass transit.

Below are the fourteen nations surveyed in order of how ‘green’ they are:

1. Brazilians

2. India

3. Chinese

4. Mexicans

5. Hungarians

6. Russians

7. British

8. Germans

9. Australians

10. Spanish

11. Japanese

12. French


14. Americans

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