The resources of the earth are finite.
Economic growth cannot continue indefinitely; sustainable and efficient rates of resource and energy use (throughout) need to be attained.
The earth cannot support the present human population at the high level of consumption found in affluent countries such as the United States.
The ability of the earth to absorb pollutants resulting from human energy use and artifact production is finite.
Energy sources are not recyclable- they can only be used once and then they may become pollutants.
The stock of human bodies and artifacts cannot increase indefinitely, but must be maintained at a steady-state level lower than the earth's carrying capacity.
A sustainable lifestyle should emphasize quality (knowledge, culture, health) rather than quantity, and should be based mainly on renewable resources.
The United States is the most affluent and consumption-oriented nation in the world. As such, we have a moral obligation to take the lead and to initiate societal changes needed to transform our non-sustainable growth-driven economy to a sustainable steady-state economy.
"America's annual population growth has an impact on global warming about equal to China's and India's combined- and two and a half times bigger than Africa's... What hoists America's total environmental impact so high is its level of consumption and waste. On most indicators these are the highest in the world. In 1991, the average U.S. citizen had $22,130 to spend- about ten times more, in real terms, than the average person in a developing country... In 1989 the United States burned up twice as much energy to produce every dollar of GNP as France, Germany, or Italy- and nearly three times as much as Switzerland and Japan. The output of municipal waste per person in the United States is well over twice as high as in these five countries or the United Kingdom. America is also the leading source of carbon dioxide on earth. Each American pumps out 19.7 tons each year- more than twice the average in Europe and Japan. The average South American or Asian produces ten times less, the typical African nineteen times less... With only 4.7 percent of the world's population, the United States produces nearly 14 percent of the world's methane output and more than 22 percent of its carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons. Every year the U.S. population grows by 2.6 million... the carbon dioxide increase due to population growth is 52 million tons a year... India grows by 17 million tons of carbon dioxide- a quarter of the U.S. total. China's extra 17 million people add just under 37 million tons. Overall, population growth in the two biggest countries on earth has at present less impact on global climate than that of the United States."*
*The Amicus Journal 15(4) (Winter, 1994):20:21.