Updated on February 11, 2013
This was a really interesting opinion piece for me. Read the full article here: Going Green but Getting Nowhere
The quick abstract is that the author feels that individual action regarding climate change (ie: recycling, reusing bags, buying carbon offsets, turning off lights, etc) is pointless and not making any positive impact on the environment/climate change.
He goes on to defend his opinion by saying that the problems are so huge, “they are beyond the reach of individual action”. Instead of focusing on what you are doing as an individual in terms of environmental impact, you should be more concerned about what the government(s) are doing to regulate these things.
He says that only self-interest, not self-sacrifice is enough to make real changes. I sort of agree with that – when people are hit economically or otherwise personally, they are much more inclined to take action. When things directly affect a person or their friends and family, they will then suddenly have an opinion about it.
I also agree with the author’s point that cap-and-trade is a necessary step to forcing regulations on big polluters and making people pay their fair share of the damage (at least, it’s a step in the right direction)- he claims that because of “planetary socialism”, people are subsidized in terms of the costs they really see when it comes to environmental impacts. Again, I think if individuals and companies had to pay the REAL costs of their polluting ways, they would change… mainly because they simply wouldn’t be able to afford to do otherwise.
However, is it really reasonable to go as far as saying that individual actions are useless? Shouldn’t we be practicing what we preach and behaving in a way that is considerate of our environment and our future environment? Shouldn’t we be getting into the habit of doing all these “green” things, so that our minds see it as routine? Why not teach children that conservation, moderation, recycling, and innovative ideas are good practices? Shouldn’t they learn to care for their environment too?
While I agree that climate change, pollution, and many other environmental issues need to be addressed on a huge scale, I hardly think that is justification for anyone to throw their hands up and expect someone else to deal with the problem simply because it’s “too big”.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi