Monday, January 4, 2010
Citizens or Consumers?
We spend far too much time worrying about how to change energy behavior of individuals – although we know full well that the energy savings under individual control are modest. Market forces and national policy set the range of choices that individuals have and significant change means operating at that level. As such, it is action as citizens not consumers that need attention. Action here means voting – voting to support politicians who implement climate friendly policies or at least acquiescing to such policies. Ed Maibach (of George Mason) writes that with regard to climate change, “Our data, however, shows that even among the one segment of Americans who are truly committed to addressing climate change, they are vastly more likely to be responding as consumers than as citizens.” It is common to think that, notwithstanding the limited direct energy savings of individual action, the real payoff is that such a focus set one on the path to citizen support of policy. But is there actually any evidence to support this view?