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Going Green but Getting Nowhere

September 28, 2011

Say you’re willing to make real sacrifices. Sell your car. Forsake your air-conditioner in the summer, turn down the heat in the winter. Try to become no-impact man. You would, in fact, have no impact on the planet. Americans would continue to emit an average of 20 tons of carbon dioxide a year; Europeans, about 10 tons…

So why bother recycling or riding your bike to the store? Because we all want to do something, anything. Call it “action bias.” But, sadly, individual action does not work. It distracts us from the need for collective action, and it doesn’t add up to enough. Self-interest, not self-sacrifice, is what induces noticeable change. Only the right economic policies will enable us as individuals to be guided by self-interest and still do the right thing for the planet…

It won’t change until a regulatory system compels us to pay our fair share to limit pollution accordingly.

That’s Gernot Wagner, economist at the Environmental Defense Fund.  I don’t agree on his first point.  Individual action can lead the way for others to do the same.  More here.

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