Seth Godin has an interesting post on his blog about getting people to care about the environment. He points out that througout history, people have always wanted more. It’s a sign of achievement, of status.
In other words, getting people to care about the environment by telling them to cut back is a really hard sell. No wonder it doesn’t work too well.
He really had some good points, such as:
One reason that the litter campaign of the 1960s worked so well is that ‘not littering’ didn’t require doing less, it just required enough self control to hold on to your garbage for an hour or two. The achilles heel of the movement to limit carbon is the word ‘limit.’
When you start thinking about it in those terms it makes a lot of sense. How many people go green just because they want to create less carbon or cut back in their lives? Those may be some of the stated reasons, but how much of it is really a desire to do more for the environment. It’s a semantic difference, but a very important one.
Take a look at some of the things that are environmentally friendly but can be seen as status too. In my area, low emissions vehicles can use the carpool lanes.See Vehicle Code (VC) §§ 5205.5 and 21655.9. That’s something that makes less into a bit of more.