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Psst, Environmentalists! Earth-Friendly Lifestyle Actually Doesn't Matter

So. Do you carry reusable bags to shop at the grocery store? Do you sort empty plastic containers into the correct recycling bin? Did you trade-in your gas guzzler for a well-worn pair of sneakers?

Do you think that all those enviro-goody-two-shoes things you did matter? Think again.

No hate mail, please! That's what economist Gernot Wagner at the Environmental Defense Fund said. He argued that in order to save the planet, we need much more than environmentalists. Instead, we need smart economic policies.

Here's an interesting interview at Co.Exist:

Co.Exist:What does the average environmentalist get wrong?

Wagner: Environmentalists, all too often, think that the best way to go about solving the problem is to get everyone to do as they--we, I included--do. I don’t eat meat. I don’t drive. But individual do-gooderism won’t solve global warming.

And it may actually be counter-productive, for two reasons. First, there’s a well-documented psychological phenomenon called “single-action bias.” You do one thing, and you move on. You carry your groceries home by foot, in a cotton canvas bag, and you think that single act of environmental kindness makes up for other sins.

Second, you spend all your energy thinking about these tiny things. Should you buy the local apples that have been stored for months in a cool house somewhere, or should you buy the fresh apple flown in from across the world? Or should you not buy apples at all when they are not in season and risk not getting enough vitamins?

You’d go positively crazy trying to figure out what to do, and you’d miss the big picture: That, at the end of the day, none of that really matters.

So what should we do? Read on at Co.Exist: Link


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Wrong.

Lots of small actions add up.

Also, even as a Political, Awareness, or Issue-Lifespan-Continuity tool, all the little, visible, greeny things do matter, even in their smallest bits.

Because, it's the Congressman's daughter's,
mild acquaintance,
from second semester French class,
who had a unique way of speaking or being or thinking,
that helped influence someone,
who has influence on someone,
who has influence on lots of people,
and policies.

And if you think any of the cloud-chamber particle-collision chaos thinking is dead wrong,

just go ahead and peruse the masses of accounts telling how some pretty neat, big, well-known projects Actually got done,

and had about 1,000 near-misses on the way,

and almost never happened.

Only 1 Ex: Harry Potter was almost not published.
-It was the daughter of one publisher who made it happen.

.
This canard by Wagner is nothing more than an instance of someone thinking ONLY in-terms of Laboratory science,

in stead of Applied science.

-Two completely different things.
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I cannot agree more. I used to try really hard to only buy low impact to zero impact goods. I raised 95% of my own food and recycled everything. But one day I gave a good long amount of time to my sneakers and how many people they were affecting. I could not go without shoes. And I burned through 2 pair in a year. So what could I do. Then answer was NOTHING. My shoes were affecting literally hundreds of other people's lives directly with each purchase. And if I thought about the hypocrisy of that it was maddening. And then there are things like electricity. You know you're using it right now. And it's affecting millions of people. And water and all those basic things because there's a mountain of other little things that go into that power plant and the coal and the trains and cars and employees and global fall out from the carbon etc etc etc.

Enough.

I looked around and realized no one gave a fuck. They were still voting by party lines or (75%) not voting at all. So really it was pointless. Because if there were not systemic changes to correct the inherent behavior built into the society et al NOTHING would change. Buy a local apple but it's driven to market with a diesel chugging truck and put on display with more lights than you'd eve need by a grocery company that really only wants to keep it's 5% margin intact. Until people at the top want a better world or the whole decides to take back their world it will not matter. I do my part where I can but seriously I don't care whether or not your grandkids choke or cannot drink clean water.
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