lhowell

Climate Change Opinion – Do People Really Care

In carbon emissions, climate change, commute, Environment, greenhouse gases, hybrid vehicles on June 10, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Climate change will take a long time for people to embrace fully, but especially so in developed countries and more precisely the United States. Now, to be sure, I’ve lived in Houston since 2001, so my perspective is likely a bit skewed, but here are my reasons why most people in the United States do not embrace climate change fully:

  1. Human Behavior
  2. Cost
  3. No consequence for not changing behaviors
  4. Corporate infrastructure and manufacturing processes are cost prohibitive to change
  5. Most people simply don’t care in the United States

Human Behavior

Most Americans are lazy! Here’s an example to support this, on the weekends in Paris a family may walk 1-3 miles together to enjoy a day together or to have a picnic. Here, you would be hard pressed to find a group who will regularly walk 2-3 blocks for lunch. Yet, I often see people ordering Diet beverages only to bring back desert to snack at their desk in their sedentary position. I could say more, but you get the idea, but changing this mindset and engrained behaviors is hard for most people.

Cost

I want to buy a Toyota Prius, which is the hot new hybrid vehicle. Now, my buddies with large SUVs and high-performance sports cars would probably tease me about this, but they are too damn expensive. More importantly, though is that they are too expensive for the average family whose median income is around $48,000 a year or so. The value proposition is not compelling enough for people to switch. You almost get this sense that gas prices will stabilize till US automakers can catch up to the Japanese automakers to provide a more affordable option.

No Consequence for Not Changing Behavior

Simply put, people don’t feel enough pain to do things differently. My wife is a huge recycler, and our trash is now down to one bag as a result, so now I have don’t have to lug that huge can down to the curb–thanks honey. Since we try to budget things, her trips to visit her friend for play dates are much less frequent; mind you, this trip is roughly 1 hour each way an consumes a half a tank of gas once the trip is over; that’s an expensive play date. So, now they travel their once per month.

Cost Prohibitive for Corporations and Manufacturing

The road to change is not easy to be sure, but it can be done. I will simply refer you to a company that exemplifies the 3.0 Mindset. They are Interface, Inc. located in Georgia. Once you read about them and see their video, write back to share your perspectives.

Most People in the United States Simply Don’t Care

Yes, this is true. Now, I have lived in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Tiburon California (just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco), San Diego, Des Moines Iowa and Nashville (my hometown). From what I can surmise is this: it depends on how you are raised and what you learn about the environment. For example, in Texas if you have an F-150 or even better an F-250 for increased towing capacity, you don’t worry about climate change. But also, many of the jobs here (in Houston that is) that are some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, also provide for families. Entire ecosystems of business would shut down, if companies were forced to comply with hard-line carbon emissions limits. The result, job loss, economic hardship for what (climate change) is perceived to be the domain of the idle rich or “tree huggers” from the Northwest.

So what could happen? What if Jay-Z or Lil Wayne started driving Prius and made an announcement that they were eliminating the millions of dollars in automobiles that litter their garage and driveway? What if influential celebrities like Paris Hilton walked the proverbial climate change talk by driving a Ford Escape Hybrid rather than continuously wrecking gas guzzling $150,000 automobiles like they and disposing of them like panty hose with a run? So, when influencers of popular culture change and show that it is cool to protect our atmosphere just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope here in the U.S. for change.

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