A Change of Values is required in North America

There seems to be a dichotomy with respect to behaviours of individuals in North America that have an impact on the environment. According to Linda Derksen and John Gartrell, western societies have a concern for the environment , but on the other hand some chose to maintain behaviours which are as harmful to the environment. Such behaviours consist of driving SUVs, living in large homes in city suburbs, refusing to use public transportation and excess consumption. Very few arguments can be given to justify the purchase of such vehicles. Many cities suburbs in North America are experiencing expansion of their suburbs. The houses being constructed are large and provide more space than is required to live comfortably. Large houses also require increase amounts of electricity and natural gas for heating or cooling. Suburban sprawl contributes to the removal form the use for agriculture. The present American or Canadian Dream is incompatible with principles of sustainable development. In his book Red Sky at Morning, the author James Gustave Speth stresses the need for a proactive rather than a passive approach of individuals with respect environmental issues. North Americans have a concern for the environment and seem to be willing to play active role in the contribution of solutions as long as it does not impact their lifestyles. Such efforts are insufficient for the long term sustainability of the environment. Americans and Canadians must experience a change their materialistic values to values that include living efficiently, humility and a concern for the environment.
Ron Bosc

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Posted in sustainable living
3 comments on “A Change of Values is required in North America
  1. Jason Charron says:

    I couldn’t agree more. But assuming that the type of change you suggest is required normally only comes about as a result of massive disruptive change, is there something we can do now to motivate change without having to redefine social norms and cultural values?

  2. jeremy says:

    I think it is up to governments to provide some leadership Jason. The simple fact of the matter is that human bahaviour is shaped by incentives. If the authorities in individual countries can harness the taxation system to make ‘economic bads’ more expensive and ‘economic goods’ cheaper, people will respond. In summary, it is theoretically possible to tax SUVs out of existence. The main obstacle is political will.

  3. darragh2 says:

    I agree in principle with the need for government leadership and decisive intervention. In America however I can not see the government become true leaders until the people send a strong message to them insisting that action is required

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