Friday, July 08, 2011

Pondering Geographical Barriers to Going Green

"You want WHAT?"
This week's Change The World Wednesday challenge "Upped The Ante" on last week's challenge by asking
Of all your green achievements, which one was the hardest to accomplish and why? How did you overcome the obstacles?
This is a difficult question, especially since the hardest ones to work on may be those I haven't succeeded with yet! When I ponder the difficulties I've had in green achievements, the hardest barriers to overcome were geographical: physical geography and social geography.
I can annihilate some physical geographical barriers with technology. Compared to last year, I take a lot more meetings by phone or over the internet. This has saved a huge amount of commuting; however, I still need to tend the bookselling at the thrift store three or four days a week, and that requires physical travel.
The social geography can be more difficult whenever some change involves other people. Take energy use for an example: it is completely irrational to leave lights on in the house overnight, yet there are a couple of places downstairs where they are left on. When I ask about it, my housemates downplay the issue as not being that big a deal. Likewise, leaving chargers plugged into the wall; I have carefully attached them all to switched power bars, so that they can be easily flicked on or off, without having to unplug anything; yet a week later I find them plugged into the wall anyway. Any discussion of cutting back prompts resistance. What's going on?
There is a feature of social geography having to do with a level of comfort in doing things the same way. Changes are difficult, and especially changes for some reason having to do with being smart or efficient or cheap; these are uncomfortable for some people and so they are not merely resisted, but sabotaged. Perhaps it is a form of conspicuous consumption - a demonstration that although we are short on money, at least we don't have to turn the lights off!
 It does no good to complain about it. If complaining helped, the problem would have been solved long ago. Some approach that better addresses the root of the problem may be more effective.
I think there's an answer. It's a roundabout answer, and maybe the fun way to think about it comes from Jesse Schell's talk about the future of games. Bear with me, it's well worth watching and thinking about...

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

The other day I read a post from a guy who maintains that small actions aren't necessary if we take care of the big ones. For example, he suggests that if we downsize to a smaller home, we don't have to worry about conserving energy. What???? At first I thought it was a joke ... he couldn't seriously believe that. But it turns out he does. He also believes that buying a smaller car means we don't have to engage in any gas-saving activities and that driving to a gym to workout is better than walking, etc., because paying for the privilege of exercising will keep one motivated (and, after all, health first). In thinking about it, I realized that many people accept the "status quo" ... they do what they do because that's what they've always done and change is hard. I also believe that many people have a sense of entitlement ... they believe that they are entitled to use natural resources without thought. It's tough to change their minds ... but I believe (or maybe I just hope) that they will see our actions and be lead in the right direction. If not, they will be forced to change when we run out of necessities. Thank you for another thought-provoking post!