Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chance for some blogging credit

As we approach the end of the term, among other things I'm considering how everyone is grasping the big picture.

One central theme throughout the course is that while sustainable resource use is best for society, most decisions regarding use are made at the individual level. Often, when it comes to the environment, what is best for the individual is not what is best for society as a whole. Result: over-use.

Here's a question to think about ...

Are there circumstances under which the individual considerations of self-interest and the resulting social outcomes are compatible with true environmental sustainability? Or does this notion of compatable individual and social well-being have to be forced by policy?

Feel free to provide real, hypothetical or historic examples or a general description.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are some situations where sustainability can save the individual money and therefore are beneficial for both society and the individual. For example, CFL's that replace standard lightbulbs are more expensive up front, but in the long run can save an individual money on their electric bill.
Other than a few cases like this, people are not going to voluntarily become more sustainable on a large scale. Much like the global climate change talks, someone won't necessarily change their ways if they are not held accountable.
A. Parker

Taber B. said...

One example of how the individual considerations of self-interest may result in a social outcome that is in a way compatible with true environmental sustainability, would fall under the process of an individual purchasing an automobile. If one chooses to purchase a hybrid car which runs partly off of standard gasoline and partly off of electricity, they would be doing this in their own self interest to increase their mpg and ultimately save money coming out of their own pocket for fuel costs. While the person makes this decision with the primary thoughts of self-interest, there is an outcome which may be compatible with true environmental sustainability. First off, by using less gasoline they are emitting fewer pollutants in the air, increasing the environmental sustainability of clean air. Secondly as they use less gasoline, they are increasing the supply of gasoline to the rest of the world, and increasing the environmental sustainability on natural gasoline.

Dwayne said...

self interest is defined in many ways for different people. from a small town in rural Sampson County NC, recycling has never been a issue. With a landfill so tall you can see from my house why should I take the time out of my day to separate my trash when trash from all over North Carolina and who knows where is coming into my backyard. Thats my self interest.

Though after spending time in a larger city i find people more concerned with recycling because "its the right thing to do" but technically do you know where your trash is goin? how do you know the garbage man that stops at your house is thinking the same you are about recycling or if he is just ready to finish his day quicker.

Policy may change the thought of recycling but will it change peoples self interest or will it be worth peoples time? In my neighborhood many will say no cause we see where our trash goes, (on top of a mountain). this should change our perspectives but many cases dosent. Policy will only work if enforced. Enforcement is tough considering that you will need to hire more individuals or force other branches to take more time out of their day to enforce it.

Even with policy already there although without the enforcement, I hope to eventually see recycling as a everyday gesture in my house but as of right now my self interest does not concern recycling.
D. Faircloth

Anonymous said...

I think standards should be implemented for our social well-being. We need more standards to help sustain our environment. For example air pollution is often associated with vehicles and factories. We do not think about household products nearly as much as we critize the society for pollution. It is harder to regulate products such as hairspray but standards should be implemented to help sustain our environment for the future. More enforcement is needed for our current standards because many people do not care until they have gotten fined or educated about the environment.


Lee Grimsley