The United States of America may be scooping up heaps of medals at the Olympics, but in terms of environmental sustainability, a recent National Geographic survey found us coming in dead last. That’s right: America isn’t just the land of opportunity; apparently, it’s also the land of environmental apathy.
Conducted from March to May of this year, the survey of conservation conscious lifestyles in seventeen countries ranked the USA at the very bottom of the green list, finishing below Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The list is compiled using the “Greendex,” an index created using responses from 17,000 participants who answer questions regarding housing, transportation, and consumption of food and goods. Housing and transportation account for 30% each of the Greendex, while scores in food and goods account for 20% each. A lower Greendex score implies lower eco-sustainability. Americans came in last in each of the sub-categories except for food, where the United States came in third-to-last, ranking only above Mexico and Japan.
“This is the fourth year of the Greendex study,” writes the survey’s 204-page report. “In each previous wave, the Greendex scores of the majority of consumers surveyed increased. 2012 is the first year in which there are more decreases than increases across the 17 countries surveyed. Consumers in developing nations continue to fill the top tier of the Greendex rankings, while the bottom nine countries are all industrialized.”
But aside from exposing America’s eco-unconsciousness, the survey also revealed some interesting tidbits about our reluctance to go green.
While 45% of Mexican consumers and 46% of Argentinean consumers strongly agreed to being “very concerned about environmental problems,” only 20% of US consumers said the same. And even more tellingly, only 21% of Americans “feel guilty” over their environmental impact, compared with 42% Chinese, 42% of Mexicans, and 45% of Indians.
34% of Americans feel that global warming will negatively affect their personal lifestyles within their lifetimes, while 72% of Brazilians and 67% of Mexicans say it will. On a faintly more positive note, over half of American consumers surveyed agreed that as a society, we should reduce our consumption.