This is less helpful. The idea that we must all wear hair shirts, drive sucky cars and live in cold, dark houses is … well, let’s say, unappealing. If this is the best PR pitch that we can conceive, global warming is here to stay.
There are two problems with this approach. First, there is a danger that people will make one or two personal sacrifices and then feel that they have done their part for the planet; that having accepted responsibility and taken some personal action, they will return to their apolitical lives with a clear conscience. The really big structural changes that only government can make will remain unmade for lack of public pressure.
The second problem is that this sort of holier-than-thou scolding is much more likely to turn people off than inspire them to action. For example, the attached Independent Online story includes a quote from “Environmental Business Consultant” Lynne Franks, who says, “I’m trying to see that everything I do in my life has some value to the planet and to the people that live on it.”
Everything? Really? If Ms. Franks is sincerely trying to recruit friends and influence people, she might better say, “I’m trying to see that everything I do in my life has some value to the planet and three times a week I try to quaff a really excellent Cabernet.” Truly, a wretched, abstemious planet that honours only self-deprivation is itself unsustainable.
Still, that’s no reason to leave the lights on, so it’s worth reading the Independent’s list of suggestions. Keep in mind, though, that holidaying in the U.K. is only a climate-friendly option if you’re starting in the U.K.