In the Nineties, green issues were certainly apparent in the minds of the general population; logging in the Amazon was a major concern, and who can forget Captain Planet and the Planeteers? Even educational videos designed to teach good spelling were themed around pollution on planet Earth (I can’t have been the only one to watch Earth Warp, surely?).
In the Noughties, however, green campaigning really took off. ‘Global Warming’ became ‘climate change,’ pollution and wastefulness became your ‘carbon footprint’ and the dangers of carbon dioxide were no longer limited to an overflowing soft drink. But are people now, towards the end of the decade, getting a little tired?
Jack Wellby argued in the last Greenbox that now is the time to stop trying to convince the sceptics, and I began this year’s OUSU Environment Handbook by saying that anyone who didn’t believe in the existence of climate change is either misinformed or stubborn. Whilst this is wholly true, I worry about the effect this will have on green campaigning as a whole.
By relaxing our campaign efforts, people have begun to forget the message of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and especially the order in which those words should come. I was appalled when I heard of an advert condoning leaving a light on all night because it was fitted with an energy efficient bulb; such a notion is wholly misleading. By reducing the amount of energy we use in our day-to-day lives, we should not therefore start engaging in more energy-wasting activities.
The government has now finally agreed to a target for reducing the country’s carbon footprint by 80% before 2050, but there’s only one way to do this. We have to throw out the strategy of showing people little changes they can make to reduce their carbon footprint, and start impressing the importance of the big changes. Line drying your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer will save much more energy than switching lights off when you leave the room, and I think everyone knows what to do when it comes to air travel. A renewal within the green campaign is necessary to provide the same effervescent campaign of earlier in the decade if we are to convince those that have installed the right lightbulbs that the next step is to unplug their tumble dryer.