Kantian Consumerism

„Handle nur nach derjenigen Maxime, von der du zugleich wollen kannst, dass sie ein allgemeines Gesetz werde.“

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”

While driving alone the 26 miles into work from my comfortable suburban home to downtown Dallas the other day, I heard on NPR a reference to a game I could play to see “how many ‘Earths’ of natural resources it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans… if everyone lived like [me].”

After choosing a super-cool avatar and neighborhood, you enter the data requested by the game. Based on the data I entered, it would take 10.7 Earths to sustain my lifestyle if all 6.6 billion humans lived like I do! WOW!

I know some places where I can and should be better. First, I drive, by myself, 26 miles to and from work every day. There is a perfectly good light rail system in Dallas that runs close to where I live (in fact, it was one of the factors we used to decide where to purchase our home). I could commute on that more often! Also, I have been very bad at recycling even though our city provides a recycling pickup once a week, and we don’t even have to separate everything to do it! It would be very easy to begin, as my wife has often encouraged me to do. We could set our thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

There are some things we do well, though, I think. My wife tries to buy organic/local when she can. We also changed our electricity provider to Green Mountain Energy, which purports to be a provider of mainly renewable, such as solar and wind generated, power.

Finally, you can compare your results with other game-players in your income bracket, education level, age group, etc. That is also interesting. Somehow, my score was much better (in terms of consuming less Earths) than many others of similar age, education, and income.

I must admit that it is somewhat eye-opening to see at least one estimate of how the Earth would fare if everyone lived as I did. How were your results, and what do you think drove them?

One Response to Kantian Consumerism

  1. john f. says:

    Cool activity. I wonder if Kant would be disgusted by this pop-culture application of his thought or flattered. Probably the latter.

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