Changing Collective Environmental Consiousness

So a select amount of us know that global warming is a problem, we’ve all seen An Inconvenient Truth, we all want to make the world better. So, why is the battle still raging? The problem seems to lay in much of the US population’s indifference, lack of awareness, and perhaps their perceived notions of what they would have to give up in order to reduce their carbon emissions. Changing these views will take a lot of persuasion. Thinking about these things has led me to a simple idea that would keep a person’s carbon footprint in the forefont of their minds, or at least make it more accessible. Whenever someone fills up their gas tank and gets a utility bill the estimated carbon emissions should be printed right there.

Estimated Carbon Emissions

Every car burns gas a little differently and will have different emissions so the estimated carbon emissions would be just that, estimated. It would be simple to have the gas station computers calculate gallons times some average carbon usage number. Same thing with utility bills for natural gas and electricity – depending upon what the utility company is doing – say solar power vs. burning coal – the carbon footprint would be calculated based on your monthly usage. I think it would just make a person’s pollution levels a little more prevalent in their day-to-day lives and give our collective consciousness a little jog every time we fill up.

But, I like money AND the environment!

Reducing our carbon emissions by walking to work and lowering our thermastats probably won’t work though. I, for one, need to get places and like not sleeping underneath a blanket of snow. There needs to be a way to make real green money without making so many economic and personal sacrifices. Can we just use more solar, wind, and other green power?

There was just an interesting article in Wired this month about two activist/environmentalists (Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger) who are trying to change the old views of their community, namely other environmentalists, away from the reduction-of-carbon-emissions view to the lets-make-better-green-technology view. Their idea is to start a green-tech revolution via federal funding. $300 billion dollars worth. Having a base for companies and venture capitalists to buid upon is a great idea – after all, it worked for the Internet.


Leave a Reply