The Stranded Polar Bear Theory Isn’t Working

Now I think there is such a thing as global warming and I do my best to lower my carbon footprint by recycling garbage, carrying canvas bags to the grocery store and feeling guilty every time polar bears come up in conversation. However, according to new environmental polls, I’m in the minority. Psychologists are saying people aren’t motivated by climate change. Personally, when I open my eyes in the morning, I’m thinking about all the things on my to do list and trying not to stress about them.

Imagine my surprise when I learned the environment is NOT giving people stress! No nail biting or leg shaking over climate change? Oh dear! Here in Scottsdale there’s lots of stress about cleaning leather pants and dinner parties, but is anyone concerned about bears? One U.S. researcher’s theory is that TV ads have made us so materialistic we don’t care about long term issues like the environment which might take longer than a few days to solve. I confess I watch vodka and Victoria Secret ads with interest because I want to know the lifestyle I’m missing. Has cleavage and a good stiff drink made me insensitive to global warming?

One psychological researcher says we need to view this problem as “saving the American way of life”  to get the public’s attention. Does that mean we need public service announcements with cute families running through fields? Do we still want to keep up with the Jones’ (or the Smith-Jones’ for 30 somethings)?  Americans want to win at something even if it’s better landscaping than their neighbor. My friend, Glee, would say it’s a better condo on the Scottsdale Waterfront, which I might add is really a drainage ditch that’s been landscaped, but who’s looking?

A San Diego 2007 small study put fliers on homeowner’s doors. Here were the choices: conserve energy because it helps the environment;  save energy because it’s socially responsible; saving energy saves money; and “the majority of the neighbors in your community” are going green. Guess which one the most people picked? The latter! So peer pressure works even in adulthood when we’re way past pimples and giggling.

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