Portland and vanity
Re: the previous post, another quote from the Portland guy caught my eye:
Mr. Sten added that Portland’s officials were able to curb carbon emissions only because the steps they took were intrinsically popular and cheap, serving other purposes like reducing traffic congestion or saving on electrical costs. "I haven’t seen that much willingness even among our environmentalists," he said, "to do huge masochistic things to save the planet."
Two things to note here, related to my post on hypocrisy from yesterday:
- Sten hasn’t seen much "willingness even among environmentalists to do masochistic things to save the planet." Me neither. There are people who will sacrifice amenities and conveniences to live a life of environmental virtue, but they are now, and will always be, in the small minority. Welcome to homo sapiens.
- But that’s okay. The people of Portland are leading lives of increasing environmental virtue just by living in Portland. Thanks to some savvy organizing and good government, Portland has made structural changes — new traffic lights, more transit routes, more bike trails, etc. — that make extraordinary individual sacrifice unnecessary. They are making environmental virtue the path of least resistance.
What’s the lesson?
Get involved in your community. Organize. Write letters to the editor. Run for city council. Join a campaign. Inform others. Get informed. Vote.
Change the structure of our collective life. All else is vanity.