United States of America

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Temps de lecture : 3 minutes  

etats- unis

Parc de Monument Valley- Etats- Unis © Yann Arthus- Bertrand

9,363,123 km² wide, this federal republic of 300 million inhabitants is a “Continent-State”, the fourth largest country by total area. In between mountains, west and east, lies a vast central plain. On its border with Canada, the Great Lakes contain one fifth of global fresh water resources.

Issues

Climate : the American administration distinguished itself by opposing the Kyoto protocol (signed by President Clinton, but never ratified). Until recently, they were the first producers of greenhouse gas in the world – they were just overtaken by China. Nevertheless, several American States (including California) and many municipalities began to take measures in order to reduce their emissions.

Imprint : the American economy is such that if everyone on Earth had the same lifestyle, 6 planets wouldn’t be enough.

Energy : Oil appetites threaten the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska (declared National Oil Reserve as soon as 1923) : it is the topic of a heated national debate. Besides, the country owns one third of the global geothermal production and is close behind Denmark and Germany for wind-borne energy.

Nuclear : with 104 powerplants running, this energy provides 22 % of the production of electricity (coal : 53 % and hydrocarbon : 26 %). The Energy Policy Act for the revival of nuclear power was just promulgated (2008), even though no powerplant was built since the Three Miles Island accident in 1979.

GMOs : up to 45 % of corn and 85 % of soy are GMOs. Corn’s first global exporter sends part of its GMO crops as food aid. This made the recipient countries angry since they were given the choice between GMOs or no aid.

Protected areas : this is where the first national park in the world was born : Yellowstone, in 1872. Today, the 57 national parks totalize 34 million hectares, hence a total area similar to Germany.

Electronic waste : 500 million computers are thrown away every year, but the country – which hasn’t ratified the Basel Convention on waste – sends a big part of its million tons of waste to the Southern countries.

Players

The United States, despite their negative impact on the environment, host very powerful environment-friendly associations. Many of the major environmental figures live or have lived in this country. Henry Thoreau, Rachel Carlson, Lester Brown, Jared Diamond, Edward Wilson…. Gaylord Nelson, the American senator for Wisconsin, is the founder of the Earth Day (first edition : April 22, 1970). Al Gore, who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is the author of the best seller Earth in the Balance, which came out in 1992.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the equivalent of a Ministry of the Environment. The Agency has a budget of more than 8 billion dollars and employs 17,000 people.

The concept of National Resources Defense Council ; the Sierra Club, founded in San Francisco ; the Wilderness Society ; Friends of the Earth USA ; the National Recycling Coalition and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Etats-Unis USA
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