A survey out this morning from the advertising firm Shelton Group suggests that very few Americans would be willing to give up the comforts of modern life even if they knew such comforts hurt the planet. Of the survey respondents, only 38 percent said they would give up their iPod; 21 percent would give up their cell phone; 7 percent would do without a computer and just 6 percent would go without a car. Yet 60 percent of the people surveyed gave lip service to being interested in “greener products.”
While the survey is an interesting snapshot of which devices hold the most value for people (only 13 percent of people would give up a TV!), the whole premise of the survey is a bit bogus if you think about it in terms of global warming (the survey focuses only on “harming the environment”). People don’t have to give up things like iPods, cell phones and laptops to fight global warming. The suggestion that they do only provides fodder for people and groups lobbying against action on climate change to argue that consumers would have to make those types of sacrifices. More useful questions for this kind of survey might include: Would you buy an iPod that’s better for the planet but doesn’t have, say, as nice a screen or case (remove some of those toxic chemicals) and perhaps some reduced functionality (consumes less energy)? The answers would probably be similar to those of the original survey.
The one thing that’s pretty disturbing about the survey is the finding that people are the least willing to do without the one thing that would be really beneficial to the planet to lose, especially in cities: cars. Clearly people in communities that have been built around driving (and have poor public transportation) can’t easily give up cars, but the price of electric vehicles will take a very long time to drop low enough before they can offer a realistic option for the average car buyer. And because so few people are willing to have “carectomies,” there’s going to be a gap in a transportation solution for quite some time.
Image courtesy of Brianfit and creative commons.