The World War II home front was the most important and broadly participatory green experiment in U.S. history. Is it a model we should use today?Does this generation of Americans have the “right stuff” to meet the epic challenges of sustaining life on a rapidly warming planet? Sure, the mainstream media are full of talk about carbon credits, hybrid cars, and smart urbanism — but even so, our environmental footprints are actually growing larger, not smaller.
The typical new U.S. home, for instance, is 40 percent larger than that of 25 years ago, even though the average household has fewer people. In that same period, dinosaur-like SUVs (now 50 percent of all private vehicles) have taken over the freeways, while the amount of retail space per capita (an indirect but reliable measure of consumption) has quadrupled.
Too many of us, in other words, talk green but lead supersized lifestyles — giving fodder to the conservative cynics who write columns about Al Gore’s electricity bills. Our culture appears hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels, shopping sprees, suburban sprawl, and beef-centered diets. Would Americans ever voluntarily give up their SUVs, McMansions, McDonald’s, and lawns?
Continue reading: Home-Front Ecology