Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lottery of Birth

Is it too soon for a dose of reality post? :) Nahhhh!

Today I chanced across a really cool and informative site called If It Were My Home. Per the homepage's description:

The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person?

IfItWereMyHome.com is your gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use our country comparison tool to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. Start by selecting a region to compare on the map to the right, and begin your exploration.

You can also use our visualization tool to help understand the impact of a disaster. The Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill are currently featured. Check out the individual pages to gain some perspective on these awful tragedies.

This site fits in perfectly with the TEDxTalk video I posted about social and environmental issues having extremely close but often overlooked connections.

The country I chose to look up was Bangladesh. Here are some facts that pertain to environmentalism. If Bangladesh were my home instead of the U.S., I would:

consume 99.04% less oil. Bangladesh consumes 0.0252 gallons of oil per day per capita while The United States consumes 2.6400

use 98.92% less electricity. The per capita consumption of electricity in Bangladesh is 135kWh while in The United States it is 12,484kWh.

I would also:

have 72.09% more babies

die 17.61 years sooner

Oh and, that rather large country over there that our country likes to stock its Wal*Mart shelves from, who gets used as a scapegoat and as a justification for us not having to make changes because their consumption of oil is growing, namely China, consider these numbers. They:

consume 90.43% less oil. China consumes 0.2526 gallons of oil per day per capita while The United States consumes 2.6400

use 79.3% less electricity. The per capita consumption of electricity in China is 2,585kWh while in The United States it is 12,484kWh.

Back to Bangladesh...
a big kitteh. Bengal tiger


  1. More interesting figures: http://bristlingbadger.blogspot.com/2009/04/economists-vs-climate.html
    We should stop promising developing countries that if they adopt US policies they will end up as well off as the US. It is a hoax. It is IMPOSSIBLE. The US, one way or another, will be meeting other countries somewhere in the middle (if they're lucky). We can choose to do it the hard way or the really hard way.

  2. Yes, good point and excellent link!

    Well, it's a hard thing to grasp: that we have to willingly give up some of our more unrealistic/destructive/selfish conveniences today so that we can have a better chance at keeping a good quality of life down the road. Isn't that, really, what sustainability is all about? Making some sacrifices in order to sustain and perhaps even improve life.

    The problem is, we need massive changes. We need towns and counties and states and the country as a whole to be on board with a reordering of our transportation and energy infrastructures (among other things, like defense and foreign policy).

    I don't think the green movement is dead. I think it is the only way to get the ball rolling. As I've said before, our governments are not going to do the right thing until they know it's not political suicide to do so. And that will only happen when the voters... US... are putting our money and actions where our mouths are. When the corporations know we are no longer willing to let them be in control. Walking or taking public transportation when possible, buying local and organic food and other goods, investing in alternative energy for our homes, using less energy in general, tamping down rampant consumerism, etc. Until then, why should they bother making policies that, while absolutely necessary, would simply get them run out of office both by the voters and by their wealthy benefactors?

  3. I've considered that question before, or more specifically, what if I were born to different parents. I think a young life is shaped by it's environment as well as genetics. Would I still be as open minded as I am? Would I cherish nature as much? Would I have negative prejudices against other races? I'm not sure I can answer the question, but I wonder. I think I would not be the same person. Hopefully I would be a good person, but children are swayed so much by what adults teach them, so I am left wondering.

  4. Exactly. It's a very complex thing to consider, not just the influence of the parents but of society and the natural environment. Here in the US, we can mostly (and artificially) remove ourselves from the effects seasons, droughts, etc. What would it be like if drought caused hunger and there wasn't any option for recourse? What if that was the world in which we grew up, formed our identities, our view of the world and society and of ourselves?

  5. There is a large percent of the population who, while not begrudging other countries the quality of life similar to what we have, are not willing to give up a single ounce of what they have. "That's socialism!" is what they usually fall back on.

    I also noticed that this is the second post in a row that included the picture of a cat. Is it coincidence?

  6. The truth is, the planet cannot sustain the entire human population living as we Americans do. I think our priority right now, rather than trying to raise everyone up to our unsustainable standards of living, should be to lower ourselves a bit to less ridiculous, sustainable ones. Like Nick said, it's going to happen, either willingly and in some control of it, or unwillingly and with very little control.

    People like kittens