Only Collective Actions Make a Difference

You gave up your large home for a small apartment by the train station, your car for a bike, disposable bags for your canvas one, and of course you recycle everything. Are you making a difference? Not according to this NYT column.
September 9, 2011, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

individual sacrifice may make us feel good but does little by itself, states the author, Gernot Wagner, an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund:

"So why bother recycling or riding your bike to the store? Because we all want to do something, anything. Call it "action bias." But, sadly, individual action does not work. It distracts us from the need for collective action, and it doesn't add up to enough. Self-interest, not self-sacrifice, is what induces noticeable change. Only the right economic policies will enable us as individuals to be guided by self-interest and still do the right thing for the planet."

Wagner writes that to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need "a regulatory system compels us to pay our fair share to limit pollution accordingly. Limit, of course, is code for 'cap and trade,' the system that helped phase out lead in gasoline in the 1980s, slashed acid rain pollution in the 1990s and is now bringing entire fisheries back from the brink."

Thanks to Loren Spiekerman

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in The New York Times - Opinion
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email