A few thoughts on sustainable living. (Warning: as the following observations might be a bit somber for some people, please so stop here and smile/laugh at the two jerks above)
In my humble opinion, we're all visitors here on Mother Earth, on a brief passing through between birth and death. We're also caretakers of this planet during our short visit and we should feel obliged to leave this extra extraordinary place the way we found it. The human race has made impressive improvements in technology, general welfare and sociologic complexity during history. But we've also developed life styles that seem unsustainable in the long run. I'm not blaming any one nation or person, because we're all just the result of cultural development, personal, regional or worldwide, so far. But coming from a small European country, like Denmark, where there's a lot of concerns regarding man made global warming and a possible greenhouse effect and rising oceans, there are some things that seems a little extravagant over here in the US.
Of course the abundance of vehicles! You've gotta have a car over here as the urban planning and general infrastructure is based on the individuals ability to move by cars. And BIG cars, that is!!! The prices on gas are less than half of that in Europe, so there's really no incentive to buy smaller or more fuel efficient cars. I don't even wanna mention the geopolitical dangers of relying on foreign oil exporting regimes like the ones in the Middle East.
Flying in over cities like Phoenix and Tucson, one thing that catches your eye is the ubiquitous swimming pools in almost every garden- nice, considering that the temperatures in summer soars around 100 degree F (40 C)! The fact that we're in the middle of the desert makes it a little more complicated though, as it takes a lot of water to fill these thirsty tubs. Not to mention the evergreen greens of the many golf courses around here. Hopefully technology will help securing the important water supply for the next generations.
As mentioned before, it gets melting hot here in the summer, so you've gotta have air conditioning to feel comfortable. It's run by electricity and major cities like L.A., have big break downs in the power plants, when there's a heat wave passing by. I haven't been here in the summer, but from the stories I've heard you don't wanna come here in the summertime, but even here in the winter time it's complicated to deal with the air conditioning. We want to sleep with open windows at night, to breathe the nice fresh air. But the AC system is apparently set to 70 F, so the heater starts firing up to adjust the temperature, making 90 F air flowing through the vents... With a little technical skill you could probably adjust the settings on the AC, but we've just resigned and shut the windows.
And finally, my favorite hate utility is the tumble dryer. We're in the middle of the Sonoran desert and there's an extremely low humidity - comparable to the drying out, recirculating air on air planes. The sun shines 350 days of the year, so this place is an fresh-air-dryers dream. But you hardly see any clothing lines as everybody dries their clothes in their tumble dryers. I mean, by the time I've carried my clothes from the washing machine to the terrasse, it's already dry!
So, bottom line is that we, as a human race, apparently strives to make life easier, by inventing new gadgets. With absolutely no considerations on the effects on our health (i.e. obesity) or our on our climate or future of our planet. The American way of living is widely considered the pinnacle of Western society and it influence is noticeable everywhere. Hopefully there'll be some kind of realization of the possible outcome of this life style and some personal and political actions. Until then I'll go turn on the hot tub, relax and happily forget about these so called problems.