Thursday, March 11, 2010

To the Climate Change Skeptics

I get that not everyone is on board that the climate is changing, polar ice caps are melting and natural resources are being used at an unsustainable rate. But what I honestly don't get is knowingly turning a blind eye to the environment altogether. Or valuing nature so little, that it plays absolutely no role in decision making. I mean, shouldn't the environment play at least some role in where we live, what we drive (or choose not to drive), where we get our food, and the kinds of durable and consumable goods we buy?

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?


Anonymous said...

I wish I knew the answer to your question. It has to be that many people don't even think about it, basic inertia and the cost, even the small cost, it takes to make a change. There are people who think they get to use and abuse all of the earth's gifts but I think (I hope) that is the marginalized fringe. Keep up the good fight!

Uncle Sam said...

Hi Leigh,

Very interesting! I'd like to contact you. Can't find a way to do that (on this blog or on yr FB). Please join Green Home on FB and you can contact us! Thx.

~ Axil from

Leigh Stringer (aka Greenette) said...

Uncle Sam -

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