Environmentalism is not just for hippies anymore

Thanks to the rise of the popular anti-Global Warming movement, more and more people in America are becoming environmentally aware, even those who would not have traditionally been environmentalists. Car manufacturers are producing more hybrid and alternative energy vehicles. Congress is debating legislation to reduce carbon gas emission. Walmart is selling reusable cloth shopping bags for $5. But is this a good thing?

I imagine that the old guard, hard-core environmentalists feel frustrated that their movement is being hijacked by politicians and consumers wanting to show off their “green” credibility. I think a lot of people are getting in on the movement because it is hip, and not because they actually care about Earth in a meaningful way.

For example, consider the Honda Prius. An owner may buy one solely so he can smugly show off to the world how environmentally righteous he is. In fact, the New York Times reported that 57% of people who purchased a Prius in 2007 did so because “it makes a statement about me.” It’s a fashion statement. If people really wanted to save the world from the carbon-emissions bogey man, they would drive less.

We will have to wait and see whether today’s green chic actually makes a difference. I, for one, am hoping it does. Personally, I didn’t care much about protecting the environment a few years ago, but now, I am starting to think about it more. I hope that we the people of planet Earth can change our ways of exploitation and overuse and become more responsible stewards of this wonderful blue sphere we call home–whether it is fashionable or not.

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