“Planet-Lovers” Are Less Environmentally Conscious

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

A University of Michigan study recently revealed that those who identify as extremely concerned about environmental matters such as climate change tend to be less environmentally conscious in their personal lives.

We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

This study reveals that there is blatant hypocrisy among greens and shows a major flaw in advocacy for government action on behalf of the planet. The environmentalists tend to not practice what they preach. They think their planet-loving virtue signaling excuses them from actually embodying a lifestyle that promotes and protects the environment.

This is because of a phenomenon called “moral licensing.” Because they go out and do the easy environmentalist things, such as buying organic foods or making a social media post about the beauty of the planet, they think they have earned points that make them better than everyone else. With these points of delusion, they excuse environmentally detrimental activities that they may engage in.

Tom Jacobs echoes this point:

Previous research has found doing something altruistic—even buying organic foods—gives us license to engage in selfish activity. We’ve “earned” points in our own mind. So if you’ve pledged some money to Greenpeace, you feel entitled to enjoying the convenience of a plastic bag.

The other major issue that this study brings to light is the personal actions (or inactions) of those who wish that the government enact certain policies. Environmentalists vote, campaign, and lobby for the state to put various protections and restrictions in place so that the environment will be shielded from the evil capitalist boogeymen that they conceptualize.

This causes a diffusion of responsibility. They will no longer be conscious of their own actions and the effects of their actions on the environment because they no longer feel they are responsible for it.

The effect of government advocacy on greens is not dissimilar to that of proponents of the welfare state. Instead of giving to charity and helping the homeless themselves, they would rather the state steal from the top of our society and give it to the bottom.

Similarly, greens don’t want to prevent themselves from polluting. Rather, they want to government to force others no to pollute. Worral says:

Perhaps that sense of personal ownership, of responsibility for one’s actions, is what is missing from the green movement – a point made by the authors of the study.

Be skeptical of the friend or colleague that advocates for green policy. Chances are, they do not practice what they preach.

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