The story of how the smoke that comes out of cars is destroying the planet is somehow similar to the story of how the smoke that comes out of cigarettes are destroying people´s lungs. In both cases an activity that was previously considered harmless turned out to be damaging. In both cases awareness came slowly and by the time most people were convinced a great deal of harm was already done.  And in the case of Global Warming the guilty party turned out to be the Amerincas.  But an unusual element of Global Warming is that until Global Warming was discovered I would have said that in spite of what Europeans believe,  the Americans were more environmentally minded than the Europeans. Now the opposite is true.

The reason why I believe that Americans had been doing a better job than the Europeans until the issue of carbon emmissions arose has to do with how Americans organized themselves to preserve the environment creating enormous national parks and areas in which construction was not allowed and wildlife is protected. In the area known as the Hamptons, where I am now, even though it is considered the equivalent of the Cote d´Azur for the Americans, there is tremendous presence of wildlife and agricultural land.  Inndeed last night I saw a deer at my farm in Sagaponack. In the South of France, or in the Spanish or Italian Mediterranean, you can see tremendous overbuilding everywhere and very little wildlife and agricultural activities left. But even thoug the Americans were leading in striking a balance with the environment, the tables turned when carbon emissions were found to be the most evil pollutant of the planet. While New York City, or San Francisco are surrounded by a lot of undeveloped land and wildlife, what is particularily bad about the habits of inhabitants of this cities and even worse about the inhabitants of the rest of USA is their energy habits. Never mind the fact that the average American car consumes twice the gasoline of the average European car. Other than transporting themselves in huge cars Americans have unreasonable heating and air conditioning standards, and a series of other habits that show very little concern over the environment. One of the most unusual ones that I noticed among my American friends who have babies is putting their babies to sleep driving around. Think of it, a 300 HP SUV is being used to drive around a suburban area to put a baby to sleep.  Another one is a love for lawns.  The energy and pollution that is generated by taking care of lawns in this area must be enormous, especially because the engines that lawn mowers use are extremely dirty.

But even though Americans look like laggards now with tremendous energy consumption and very little alternative energy generation since USA is the innovation engine of the world I would not be surprised that as Americans finally focus on the Global Warming problems, this country will contribute a great deal to the necessary technologies that the whole world will need to adopt to deal with it.

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Henrik Ahlen on July 22, 2007  · 

I lived in Los Angeles during the Internet hey days of 1999-2000 and was amazed by the ridiculous waste of energy:

Air conditioning in stores are set to freezing levels, making customers and employees cold. Often, the entry doors are left wide open to let people in more easily, and the cool air escapes out into the street…!

Fans, computers and lights are left on in offices 24/7.

In California, one of the most common truck loads seen on the highways is bottled water, freighted from Colorado and other distant places. many people use bottled water even for cooking, since the tap water tastes chlorine and is awful. Imagine the savings in cost and energy if they instead built decent water plants, like in Europe!
But the Americans don’t want to pay the necessary taxes, they rather spend a fortune on bottled water and filling their garages with empty water bottles.

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Jill Sand D'Angelo on July 22, 2007  · 

The energy habits of New Yorkers are, ironically, the best of the entire country.
1) we take public transportation or walk
2) we use very little energy to heat our apartments: not only are they small and therefore don’t require excessive climate-control, they are vertically stacked allowing for heat to efficiently rise through all dwellings
3)we buy very few goods since there is, frankly, nowhere to put them.
4)we eat in restaurants where oven heat is maximally used (no wasted energy during an oven’s “cool-down” period)
5)we officially recycle
6)we unofficially recycle, distributing used goods to the community by leaving them on the curb
7)we have no lawnmowers

As for the Hamptons: you can have them. Same goes with the Yeti of carbon-footprinting — private jets.

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Paweł Zimoląg on July 24, 2007  · 

Yes Jill, I also think that the example of New York, as quoted by Martin, wasn’t best; some time ago I’ve stumbled upon article discussing this:

Titled…”NYC is the Greenest City in America”

As one of my buddies put it after reading it: “People love nature and want to live in it, but if everyone loved nature and lived in it then there wouldn’t be anymore nature.”

Accidentally, Henrik, he also complained about water issues in Bay Area and how they “deal” there with them: “…while recently in Yosemite. Water is being drained from an area near there because there are vast sections of land owned by the cities of LA and San Francisco. They’ve been buying land there for years to use as a water source…metropolitan areas like that, instead of conserving water they export their water problems elsewhere. Apparently farmers in the area being drained are losing the water they need for irrigation.”

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