A new analysis has an encouraging conclusion about individuals who "go green": If we all took a few simple steps, collectively we could reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 15%. Each of these steps is cheap (or free) and won't cramp anyone's lifestyle.
How simple are the actions? Here are 15 tips from the report:
That's right, you don't have to be a vegetarian. And you don't have to raise your own chickens. Just eating lower on the food chain has a huge impact on your individual climate impact (even if the commentators on Fox Business News doubted the assertion when The Daily Green suggested it).
Of course, the challenge as always is to inspire mass action on these types of simple actions. That's where the heart of the report, by the NRDC and the Garrison Institute's Climate Mind Behavior Project. It's probably self-evident, but the purpose of the project is to "integrate emerging research findings about what drives human behavior into new thinking on climate solutions."
"The behavioral approach by no means replaces or competes against other policy, regulatory, market and technology innovations which we need," Jonathan Rose, co-founder of the Garrison Institute, said in a prepared release. "But it's one key front among others in the quest for climate and energy solutions, and conservation now is key while we move forward on those other fronts. Economists and people who study behavior and decision-making have broken through to new understandings of human behavior and human choices, based on brain physiology and evolution. They can explain for example why we may be slow individually to do simple things well within our capability that would reduce our climate impacts, even though it would be in our interests to do so, or why we are much more likely to make those changes when we know we're not alone, that others will do it too, and our contributions will aggregate. The opportunity now is to start applying these sorts of insights concertedly to get people to adopt them faster."
The effort recognizes that the old economic view of human behavior (that we all act in our own best self interest) is as flawed as markets are in controlling pollution (such "externalities" aren't included in the market price of the goods that cause pollution). Instead, behavioral economics suggests that a complex set of influences guides our decision-making (the market itself, our emotions, our communities and our innate sense of fairness, among them).
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