Image via Wikipedia
Provocative article by Professor Firmin DeBrabander on the need to consume less, not merely replace existing consumption levels with "greener" technologies.
The article is prompted by news from Sweden that, despite its high levels of electric car ownership, its emissions from the transportation sector are actually rising. The problem stated:
Through generous subsidies, Sweden aggressively pushed its citizens to trade in their cars for energy efficient replacements (hybrids, clean diesel vehicles, cars that run on ethanol). Sweden has been so successful in this initiative that it leads the world in per capita sales of ‘green cars.’ To everyone’s surprise, however, greenhouse gas emissions from Sweden’s transportation sector are up.
Or perhaps we should not be so surprised after all. What do you expect when you put people in cars they feel good about driving (or at least less guilty), which are also cheap to buy and run? Naturally, they drive them more. So much more, in fact, that they obliterate energy gains made by increased fuel efficiency.
The professor goes on to state that,
In its current state, the green revolution is largely devoted to the effort to provide consumers with the products they have always loved, but now in affordable energy efficient versions. The thinking seems to be that through this gradual exchange, we can reduce our collective carbon footprint. Clearly, however, this approach is doomed if we don’t reform our absurd consumption habits.
Real change starts with us then, and I’m afraid to say, radical change is in order. We must figure out a way to consume less, which means driving less, shopping less, eating less meat (which the UN estimates is responsible for a fifth of all greenhouse gases), and conserving food and energy. This means essentially rethinking our suburban-sprawling, fast-food-gorging, shopaholic society. We must model for the world the changes we hope everyone will make to ensure a sustainable future.
If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS.