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Fri Sep 28, 2012, 08:33 AM

Why “Green” Consumer Choices Can’t Win Climate Justice


from YES! Magazine:


Why “Green” Consumer Choices Can’t Win Climate Justice
Middle-class people are often socialized to believe they are responsible for improving their neighborhoods, their communities, and the world itself. Helpful as that often is, it creates a blind spot when it comes to global warming.

by George Lakey
posted Sep 27, 2012


With his July Rolling Stone article, Bill McKibben attracted enormous attention for his proposal to step up the fight against the fossil-fuels industry in the struggle to forestall global warming. To identify a clear opponent and mobilize power against it is, of course, a strategy of polarization. McKibben has been getting some thoughtful pushback, and I’d like to respond to one of the objections I’ve heard: that polarizing in this way distorts the truth, since carbon pollution is driven by millions of consumer choices. We’re all responsible for the fix we’re in, some critics say, so it’s wrong to mobilize against the 1 percent.

I’d like to challenge this objection on three grounds: it misreads power, privileges one way of seeking truth, and snuggles into a middle-class comfort zone.

When it comes to energy policy, power is not evenly distributed. An individual consumer’s choice to purchase a car instead of a bike is nothing like an individual CEO’s choice to blow up a mountaintop in order to mine coal. It could become trendy to eat local food—it already has, thank goodness—but an individual’s decision to buy at the farmers market and a bank’s decision to fund windmills instead of coal mining are not at all comparable in terms of their leverage or effect.

Responsibility should be assigned according to degree of power in decision-making, and when it comes to energy, it’s clear who in the U.S. is most influential in the biggest decisions. Why not hold the 1 percent accountable for the enormous power that they now have—and which they fight to retain? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/why-green-consumer-choices-cant-win-climate-justice



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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why “Green” Consumer Choices Can’t Win Climate Justice (Original post)
marmar Sep 2012 OP
cprise Sep 2012 #1
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #2
Viking12 Oct 2012 #3
XemaSab Oct 2012 #4
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #5
Nihil Oct 2012 #8
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #9
Kolesar Oct 2012 #6
bloom Oct 2012 #7

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 09:08 PM

1. K&R

Describes a lot of what's been wrong the last 20 years or so.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 11:21 PM

2. Sadly, I have to agree.

 

The big problem isn't so much individuals, it's the elite at the very top; if it weren't for these criminal conspiracies, we'd all be running hemp oil or batteries in our cars and hydro and geothermals for our power sources.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 01:03 PM

3. Green Consumerism: The Ruse of Recycling

This is the best argument I've read outlining the severe limitations of a consumer fix for our environmental problems.


http://books.google.com/books?id=kayX_vHwwpoC&pg=PA115&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 01:28 PM

4. Problems created by a consumer society

cannot be solved with a consumer response.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 05:49 PM

5. Perhaps so. But neither will population reduction, as some may wish. nt

 

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 03:21 AM

8. I beg to disagree

 

Do people retrain locusts or kill them?



Fewer consumers -> less consumed

If this could be done purely voluntarily then it would have happened already.

Looks like "we" have chosen the option to consume as much as possible
in the time before the bug spray turns up.

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Response to Nihil (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 08:07 PM

9. You would think so, but would that stop the polluters?

 

I don't think so, sadly. And in fact, less people might actually make them more brazen about trashing the planet, I fear.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 07:04 PM

6. Republicans think they can clean up the environment by selecting the right laundry detergent

I actually had that conversation when I was doing outreach at a table at a fair.
This woman thought that the government didn't have to regulate anything and she would not sign our petition.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 08:52 PM

7. Why what individuals do matters.

Individuals who waste energy, who act like it doesn't matter what they do, give up the standing to suggest that others adjust their actions - such as the rich and powerful (who actions have more potential to make a difference, esp. if they are blowing up mountains and building 50,000 square foot homes with 25 bathrooms for 2 people to live in).

The attitudes of the many which are shown by their ACTIONs can have an effect on society. If enough people are acting in a responsible manner - then those who do not look more obnoxious, essentially.

Saying you think that the rich and powerful should do XYZ, but saying that others need to take no actions suggests no credibility and consequently would have no influence.

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