North America is perhaps the most developed area in the entire world. The United States and Canada both produce and consume vast quantities of goods, which has led to a variety of environmental problems.
The United States has the largest economy of any country in
the world. Its gross national product reached US $6.4 trillion by 1994, having increased fivefold in the previous 25 years.
In addition to having the world's largest economy, the US is also the world's top user of natural resources, many of which are imported from foreign countries. Every year, the US consumes 4.5 billion metric tons of materials in its industries.
North America also uses an extraordinarily high amount of energy. Because the region is so highly
developed, it uses over a quarter of the world's energy, while having only 1/20 of the world's population.
One of the main causes of a high energy consumption is the increasing number of automobiles found in North America. Now, there is one car for every two people, and for decades energy efficiency was largely ignored.
Heavy energy consumption has increased the greenhouse effect. It has also increased the threats of global warming and pollution, and could badly damage the North American environment and many industries that rely on the environment.
In the future, levels of production and consumption could decrease in North America because the vast majority of the population feels the area consumes too much. This postindustrial society is also beginning to focus far more on the service sector, which tends to produce fewer environmental problems than other industries.