Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 12:44:54 PM EST
This comment by Millman here on the European Tribune left me a bit confused:
I'm starting to dislike the Prius as much as SUVs, because the message is "consume differently" rather than "consume less." Basically the definition of "green" in this country drives me nuts - it's just another consumer style, not a solution.
(Crossposted from DJ Nozem - Berlin's Irregular Spin)
If consuming differently helps the environment, then what is the problem?
Let's first look at the issue itself. There is a feeling that I have sometimes noticed in environmentalists that the movement risks being subsumed or overtaken by outside forces which it attempts to influence. We'll call this the abyss complex.
Do you risk being overtaken by the government if you lobby it, or even participate as a party? If you advocate green consumption, do you risk selling environmentalism as just another business of 'you gotta have it'? Or, alternatively, do people assume that they've done their part after they bought their new green gizmos?
You can take another step and ask what message you want to send. Do we want to alienate the shallow environmentalists? One pervasive argument against environmentalists is that they are just like another secular religion, concerned with the spiritual soundness of people's actions. Another argument is that they are ideologically extreme. There's something about criticising the Prius that cuts into both of these. But there is also something unsatisfying about all the anxiety of not putting people off by sounding too extreme. Even if it's politically expedient, it would feel better to just speak our minds.
I don't think that green is just the latest fad in consumer culture, though. By buying hybrid cars, ecological food, and compact fluorescent light-bulbs, people are making a further step in their environmental awareness. These people will also be more likely to support political decisions and to take further action. Get them on to green stuff, and the other stuff will also come.