What´s great about successful Americans is that they partly define success as the ability to donate funds to make the world a better place. This is hardly the case in Europe where rich people believe that their duty is to pay their taxes if nothing can be done to avoid them and let the state worry about the rest (to be fair in Europe the government does work better than in America as far as income redistribution is concerned). Now where the European rich lead is where Europe leads as a whole and that is in environmental awareness. I was recently at a conference of extremely successful Americans and just as middle class Americans shock middle class Europeans for the size of their cars, rich Americans shock rich Europeans for the size of their jets. Why is it that Americans are so reluctant to do something about the environment is something that I will never understand. Smaller cars, smaller jets, all do the job.

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Eric N on July 17, 2007  · 

I am not sure that the reason that wealthy people in Europe have traditionally had smaller cars (I don’t know about airplanes) is due to an inherent environmental concern. My guess is that it has to do with other factors. European streets are smaller, parking is more difficult, and gas is more expensive. The history of the automobile in the US and the idea of personal space in the also very different where Americans are much more private. When I was a kid, we always had bigger cars because they were considered safer.

Then in the 90s in the US, the soccer mom culture demanded that every family’s second car be an SUV (sport’s utility vehicle) — it used to be a station wagon. Those are big pollutors, and add in the factor of traffic jams and you have serious air quality issues. Nevertheless, the SUV culture has come to Europe. There are more big SUVs on the highways in Europe than ever before, and rich people are all driving their Porche, BMV, etc SUVs just like the Americans.

Finally, Americans are huge consumers of resources: plastics, gas, food, electricty, water, open space etc. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that Americans are not environmentally conscious. They have simply always had these things for much cheaper than in Europe. What the US has that I have still yet to see in Europe is serious environmental regulations with serious penalties for their noncompliance and serious monitoring. It would be interesting to do a comparative study of the number of environmental lawsuits in Europe and the US.

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killy on July 17, 2007  · 

Smaller car (or public transportation) and no Jet at all is much better…
Why take a private Jet when there is so much plane with business class ?

USA and China are responsible together for around 40-45% of global warming…

3.0 rating

Todd Heyse on October 8, 2008  · 

I was laughing yesterday reading the Chicago Tribune that because of the hard times Diddy(A rapper) has to fly first class instead of a private jet. How times have changed…

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