People For The Planet

March 1, 2004
ISdesigNET : Magazine : Back Issues : Mar 2004 : EditorialEditorialPeople For The PlanetDid you know that private consumption expenditures—the amount spent on goods and services at the household level—have increased fourfold since 1960, topping more than $20 trillion in 2000? Additionally, did you know that the 12 percent of the world's people living in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of this consumption?Without a doubt, the facts and figures published in the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2004 report (and examined in this issue's Special Report on page 58) seem especially staggering. For example, contrast the numbers above with the fact that as many as 2.8 billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day and you can't help but wonder what the world is coming to.What really made me think long and hard, though, was the perspective afforded by the following statistics:* The amount of money spent on ice cream in Europe ($11 billion) could immunize nearly every single child on earth;* or the amount spent on perfume ($15 billion) could very nearly provide universal literacy.Certainly, consumption is not a bad thing: it stimulates economies, provides for basic needs and creates jobs. But the old adage, "money can't buy happiness," rings true for a reason: about a third of Americans report being "very happy," the same as in 1957 when Americans were only half as wealthy.This rising consumption not only fails to bring us more happiness, it also is more than the planet can bear, says State of the World 2004. Forests, wetlands and other natural places are shrinking to make way for people and their homes, farms, malls and factories. Ninety percent of paper still comes from trees—eating up about one-fifth of the total wood harvest worldwide. And even though modern technology allows for greater fuel efficiency, cars and other forms of transportation account for nearly 95 percent of global oil consumption. "In the long run, meeting basic human needs, improving human health and supporting a natural world that can sustain us will require that we control consumption, rather than allowing consumption to control us," says Worldwatch Institute president Christopher Flavin.Luckily, we have every-day heroes who are working hard to ensure the former scenario prevails. People like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Richard Jackson, the subject of this month's cover story, who advocates the need for a systems approach to solving many of today's pressing health problems. Or the practitioners at LHB Corp., also profiled in this issue, who—like many of their A & D firm counterparts—are working hard to increase the use of green building practices.In fact, notes Penny Bonda is this issue's Eco Design Matters column, a growing number of folks are populating the "green world" and they can be found everywhere: in industry, the corporate boardroom, education, government, agriculture, the services sector, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and the home. From the solitary efforts of a single individual on the grassroots level to the wide-reaching impact of actions on a state or national level, the proliferation of environmental heroes continues to amaze and motivate. Which is why we are launching our first annual "25 Top Environmental Champions" issue. Scheduled for July 2004, this issue will be dedicated to those who are driven by creative ideas, a fierce passion and, most often, a stubborn persistence. Day after day, they work to raise the level of awareness of vital ecological issues, laying forth critical mandates for the future—and sometimes achieving the impossible in the process.Who are your environmental heroes? Please take a few moments to tell us about the people in your community or your business so that we can share their inspiring stories. Simply log onto to for complete instructions on how to nominate a champion. But don't delay: the deadline is May 5, 2004. We need your help—and so does our planet—to tell the stories that will encourage us all to do greater green works.
Katie Sosnowchik
Editorial Director

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