How to Destroy the Planet

By Tom Randall and Eric Roston - 2013-05-22T16:13:09Z

Photograph by Kord/Getty Images

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Be Born in the U.S.A.

The greatest forces working against planetary degradation are efficiency and innovation. The U.S. is a leader in both. So perhaps it’s counterintuitive that Americans also excel at putting the planet at risk. 

China, India, Brazil, Japan and other large consumers require enormous resources — more than the U.S. in some cases. But their citizens can’t begin to consume like Americans do every year individually: more than 17 tons of carbon dioxide emitted per capita, more than 1,500 cubic meters of freshwater withdrawn, and more than 1,600 pounds of solid waste thrown out. 

To incrementally strain the Earth’s bounty, don’t just have a lot of kids: Have a lot of American kids. 

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