Fast Company

Gas Guzzlers

This chart shows that the U.S. consumes more than twice as much oil per capita as the U.K. Astonishing, no? It also compares our energy use with a lot of other nations around the world. But it's especially eye-opening to think that we use twice as much energy as even a wealthy, industrialized place like Britain.

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5 Comments

  • Rahul Banta

    Our economy just has more overhead. Our country is huge, more distances to drive and delivery goods/services. More extreme weather than England. Further away from seaports.

    We also have more industry and I bet/know that we produce more value added "stuff" for the rest of the world than Britain (computer gear, banking services, etc.) One item, our military also uses lots of fuel. At the current moment we have 20 billion dollars in military assets helping HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of displaced persons after the Asian Tsunami. What other country can do that?

  • Dominic

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the UK has already got two things going for it:

    A smaller country = you tend to live closer to where you work. I mean, in the time some people spend commuting in the US, you could drive clear across some parts of Britain.

    The british car market has already adopted a much smaller average car size, which translates to better fuel economy.

    That's not to say that the US can't adopt these ideals ourselves.

    But it comes down to the same thing that's forcing the exporting of good jobs: The American lifestyle demands more for cheaper at almost any cost. If people were to start demanding higher durability (quality) stuff, and were willing to pay higher prices for that stuff (As opposed to the massively low cost, but short-lived stuff that IKEA, Walmart, Target, and other massive volume retailers) then those high-wage (presumably higher quality workmanship) jobs in America might be able to compete.

    But the consumers have to make the choice. So how can product developers and their companies help that choice along?

  • Adam

    One quick way to decrease dependence upon foreign oil is to all buy hybrid cars. Since those only come from Asia right now, that wouldn't really do much for that trade deficit.

  • Joe

    I'll offer some more numbers. The US Trade Deficit in 2003 was about $460 billion.

    According to the chart shown, the US consumes 7.125 billion barrels of oil annually. At a cost of $45 a barrel, that's $320 billion dollars in oil.

    We import something greater than half the oil we use.

    If we could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil (by burning an amount similar to the UK's per capita), we would reduce the trade deficit by somewhere in the general neighborhood of a third, maybe in half.

    Of course, if we stopped exporting good jobs, that might help, too.

  • Armin

    Considering that the chart seems to be from 2001 it took you quite a while to realise this problem. At least from outside of the US it doesn't look like much is being done about it (Kyoto anyone? More drilling in Alaska?).

    And then you are surprised when people think that the war in Iraq might also be about oil?

    Quote from the page: "Such inequities create a climate for violence which may be felt in different ways, especially as certain countries become more vulnerable than others to the impacts of future shortages"

    An outlook into the future?