I was listening to NPR where the reporter was talking to advertising analysts about a recent marketing study that showed that when people buy green goods, they really don't buy them because they are good for the environment. Rather, they buy "green" goods because they care mostly their own health (or the low cost). So advertisers are picking up on this and changing messages about how products are good for health or saving money rather than how good they might be for the earth. That got me a little riled up.
Then, last night, I was speaking to a crowd of grade school parents and one of the parents came up to me afterwards asking about escalators. Specifically, he was from Egypt and was surprised that in the U.S., escalators are always "on" whereas even in third world countries, they all have motion sensors so that they only run when needed. He was confused about this since he knows that the same companies produce escalators globally, i.e. Otis and others. We sadly came to the conclusion that it wasn't a matter of access to technology, its just that in the U.S., it never even occurs to us that escalators waste energy when they aren't being used and just sit there running. It doesn't even hit our radar screen. That got me really riled up.
So what is going on? In the U.S. especially, what is stopping us from doing the right thing for the environment? Is it marketing and advertising? Is it our isolationist attitude and seemingly endless source of natural resources? How is it that we are so cut off from nature that things like using continuously moving escalators, driving to a destination three blocks down the street, leaving all of our lights on and eating food from 12,000 miles away is not perceived as highly in-efficient and downright wasteful?
For all of you skeptics out there... I get that you are tired of the media hype and need more scientific evidence to feel convinced. But doesn't some of our behavior need a little rationalizing and a dose of common sense?