Most Americas with any media exposure know the ecological damage our society is doing to Earth, yet we have accomplished almost nothing to mediate it. This gap between knowing and acting seems counterintuitive. Commonsense tells us that once we know something is bad, steps are taken to prevent it. Prevention is all the more relevant because Earth is a dynamic system where impacts on one side of the planet are felt on the other. As my mother always quoted to me, “Commonsense ain't all that common.” This paper looks at the potential rationals of why we often believe in the ecological damage we are doing, but fail to act to fix it; the “Green Gap” as it were.
A recent study was conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication on the views of American's on a variety of “green” issues and the actions they took on these issues: it is scary. So, let us examine what causes us, citizens of the most wealthy country the world has ever known, to not take action.
Change requires, well, change. People aren't good at enacting change on themselves. A look at any one of the issues facing Americans will reveal this, but take the obesity epidemic for example. We know that eating large amounts of fast food (which is almost nothing but fat, sugar, and salt) causes a copious number of health issues, yet America is getting fatter. The same applies to ecological issues; we have become accustomed to our lifestyles and do not wish to give them up. Selfish resistance to change aside; people are creatures of habit, we do what we do because we have always done it. Sadly, it seems that change only happens when we are directly and negatively impacted. Direct and negative usually translates to money; when Americans have to spend more money they change their habits. This behavior became apparent in 2008 when gasoline prices surged to around $4 per a gallon. Increased gas price caused a reduction in miles driven.
Another issue contributing to the Green Gap is America's instant gratification culture. The expectation is for everything to happen fast and have immediately apparent results. In...