Most of us act hypocritically when going green, at least some of the time. Celebrities take a big hit with the most visible transgressions. John Travolta properly advocates against greenhouse gas emissions, but owns a fleet of jets. Barbra Streisand is a vocal supporter of many environmental causes, and her website offers advice on how we can each reduce our carbon footprint. But on a well-publicized tour of England she felt the need to bring along an entourage that would make an army logistician proud, with a convoy of 13 trucks following along, at least as reported in the British press.
While certainly more visible, celebrities are really not much worse than the average Joe on this score. We all have within us a little John and Barbra, proudly promoting conservation while sneaking a solo ride in our gas-guzzling SUV to buy an organic tomato from Whole Foods.
We act this way because we confuse the moral mandate with other more mundane incentives. Honghn2404 Yes, we unambiguously have a moral obligation to bequeath to our children a world at least as good as the one we inherited from our parents. But that clear directive offers no guidance on how to accomplish the goal. Problems arise in the details of implementation.
The hypocrisy often associated with going green can be understood best by looking at the early history of the environmental movement. Early activists focused almost exclusively on the moral component while ignoring economic realities. The moral outrage was completely understandable. We were fouling our own nest and as a society indifferent to our plight. Who can forget the searing images of smokestacks spewing poison into the air or mountains of trash spoiling our lands or dead fish floating in the cesspool of rivers so polluted they caught fire? With this undeniable evidence of our wanton disregard for the environment, we were made to feel guilty for our consumption, shamed into caring about our natural resources. We viewed conservation as a sacrifice, a burden to be tolerated, something difficult and inconvenient that had to be done.
That approach can be effective initially, and in fact was, but guilt has no staying power. We eventually run into guilt fatigue. We cannot be "scared straight" into environmentalism. The conservation movement will ultimately be successful when we dissociate moral michael kors outlet online virtue and environmental protection. The moral component is real, and compelling, but is not enough to sustain progress long into the future.
Going green is today often a mixed affair of hope and idealism confronting the realities of daily living. In the end, conservation will be effective only if properly integrated into the real world needs of family life, work and play. Only a few hearty souls will sacrifice long-term for the sake of others; all the rest of us mortals will become true conservationists when we can do so without serious disruption to our routine. We need to create effective economic incentives that recognize this reality of the human condition.
We in fact know how to create a political and economic environment conducive to conservation, but we lack the political will to change. Something as simple as taxing consumption rather than income would transform society, and fundamentally alter humankind's relationship with the environment. Taxing carbon would be the most effective means of trapping the true costs of production and consumption. But not in my lifetime will we ever implement such a tax. Rather than throw our hands up in despair, we should instead take smaller, less dramatic steps in the right direction.
We can certainly eliminate subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; perhaps the BP disaster in the Gulf will give some incentive in michael kors outlet this direction. Well, probably not since the conservative response to the spill is to accelerate more deep drilling even before the technology to prevent future disasters is available. Sigh. We can give more substantial tax breaks and grants to develop alternative green energy sources. We can dedicate greater resources to fund research in energy storage, new battery technology and more efficient transmission systems.
We have a long ways to go. Going green now is often an exercise in frustration because we are forced into making the false choice between doing good and doing well. Until we arrive at the point where individuals acting in their own self interest are at the same time helping to conserve the environment, we will continue to act in ways that seem hypocritical. We can see the possibility of a world in which our behavior might not necessarily change but is compatible nevertheless with true environmentalism. Perhaps in the future we can still michael kors coupon drive alone to Whole Foods to pick up a green pepper, but in an all-electric vehicle that we recharge with energy from a local wind farm.
The very fact of our hypocrisy, so common to so many, indicates that our current approach to environmentalism is fundamentally flawed. We are not bad people, just humans struggling to get by, wanting to do good but not always able or strong enough to do so. We need to operate in a political and economic environment that promotes conservation while accommodating our human weaknesses instead of pretending a false virtue. This can be done, and is within our grasp if we have the political will. Follow Jeff Schweitzer on Facebook.
Please note that all the examples you made are people who are very wealthy or at least well off. I can't hop into my 'gas-guzzling SUV' to go buy an organic tomato because I could not afford a gas guzzling SUV even if michael kors factory store I WANTED one. I have a small, fuel-efficient Suburu and my husband and I carpool to work 3 or 4 days a week. We would love to invest in a Prius or something similar, but cannot afford it. We'd love to rehab our home with solar panels and new energy efficient windows- but we'll be lucky if we can afford to replace the insulation in our attic crawl-space. Many people in the dwindling middle and lower middle class would be healthier and more energy efficient and reduce our footprints even more if we COULD- but we can't afford to. Until things like local organic produce and energy efficient home improvements are made TRULY affordable, we just have to take out the recycling and do the best we can, but on our own, it will never be enough.
It is not that simple though; what if I increased consumption of waste to produce food or energy? Certainly the drive to reduce consumption is an essential part of protecting the environment, but it can come in various forms, including efficiency improvements; meaning the we can consider using fewer resources to do the same thing as a form of reducing consumption. And then there is the question of who does the reducing; it would be hard to ask someone starving in a grass hut to cut back. Should our reductions be proportionate to our individual consumption or averaged per capita? What I am saying is that "reduce consumption" sounds good, and would be an ideal way to move forward, it is a statement of desire rather than a practical solution.
As for your grass hut argument, why don't we figure out the average energy consumption of a family and tax it at a moderate rate? Then, we could say that people who use less don't get taxed. There thus would be an incentive for people to conserve. People who use a little more than average get taxed a little more than average. Energy hogs who use much more than average get taxed much more than average.
Actually, I lived in a grass hut in Africa for two years. When I returned, I was equally astounded by the continued rise of conspicuous consumption in America (think pre-recession), and annoyed by the well-off folks who espoused their choice to "go green" and drive hybrid SUV's. Energy efficiency improvements are important, and the largest changes that need to take place are at the industrial/institutional level rather than person, of course, but just from personal observation and life experiences (and not any studies) I feel that our consumption culture needs to be addressed.
Good grief! A realistic Environmentalist! How unique! Let's start with the fact that I am a creative Conservative with a brain. When I was in college back in the 60's at the University of California, Santa Barbara (remember the oil spill and "GOO"-Get Oil Out?) environmentalism was all the rage. The main problem was they wanted us to live in yurts off dirt roads on 60' square lots. This did not jive with the dreams of most humans--even in California's South Coast.
I currently live in a beautiful, traditional 3,400 sf house on a 1/2 acre lot with the carbon footprint of a house of about 850 SF. Yes, it can be done without extreme deprivation or unwieldy regulation. The results can be drop-dead beautiful, sustainable and--most importantly--cheap.
You want people to flock to sustainability? Make it easy, inexpensive and beautiful--whether your idea of "beauty" is modern or traditional.
Many valuable causes have extreme fringes that cast a bad light. Reasonable environmentalists are not demanding yurt living and sun worship. The way to make your way of living accessible is to implement broad and gradual changes. This means subsidizing green tech so that investors will support a growing industry. Then it will be cheap, and Americans will adopt it on a larger scale. I do think that technologies that create all sorts of pollution, such as fossil fuels, need to be regulated much more strongly. A history of shortcuts and ensuing disasters has taught us that.
The problem will resolve itself eventually just as over population of other species resolves itself. I do not think humans have evolved to the point where they can make changes necessary to accept the reality of limits to growth. I do not think there will be an economic recovery - just fewer cheap resources available, year after year from here on.
It seems wisdom would dictate we consciously reduce our breeding and consumption and consider how our behavior effects the other seven-billion people and our ecosystem but human nature will likely override that kind of wisdom and we will go the route of other animals whose branches share the evolutionary tree.