Can we ever make the environment cool enough so that we care? I was interested to read Dr Jonathan Rowson's article on Guardian Sustainable Business this week on the challenges around sustainable consumption and ultimately, behaviour change. Much of it was intellectualising which presents a psychological barrier in itself, but he did press a favourite button of mine - he talked about sexing up the green agenda.
I have always favoured a more creative route when it comes to influencing the masses. Greenpeace has it bang on in that regard. So does Al Gore. Sometimes you have to engage in a little bit of reverse psychology and ambush from behind. That element of surprise has the potential to disarm and once a person's thought process is disarmed, you have the opportunity to reclaim a little patch of open-minded territory.
But Dr Rowson guards against being too cool, his argument being that "cool is not the same as profitable or ethical or sustainable" and that it doesn't address the core tension between commercial ambitions and ecological constraints. It's a fair point, but my counter-argument is that profit motivation and resource depletion will never be easy bedfellows, and that tension is here to stay.
And to be honest, the green agenda is far from being cool. It is perhaps too pressing an issue to make cool given the current landscape of political inertia. Business seems torn to me, it is caught in that crevice between wanting to do the right thing and wanting to make money. Public opinion has a formidable power to sway, if only anybody could be bothered.
My point is that what catches the imagination has the power to go viral and act as an engine for change. Those who get paid to promote sustainability should stop moralising over the messaging, they are only speaking to themselves. And besides, it's an artificial argument as we are all complicit here when it comes to ecological degradation.
Climate woes can not only pull people down, but put them down and make them feel powerless. What follows is disengagement. Sex on the other hand, sells. So does Disney. You get my drift, yes? The environmental movement may one day surprise itself, if only it could learn to lighten up and offer a happy ending.
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