[LINK] O/t responsible consumers

Karl Auer kauer at biplane.com.au
Sun Sep 5 22:22:01 EST 2010

On Sun, 2010-09-05 at 21:04 +1000, Craig Sanders wrote: 
> this can't be just explained away as the result of idiocy or ignorance
> or even the profit motive (it's easily possible to be just as profitable
> without making cars so insanely wasteful and inefficient).

Those are mighty big claims you're making. I assure you that if it were
possible to as easily be profitable without such insanity, they would be
doing it. Actually, they'd probably do BOTH. But it's not the cost of
doing it, it's the cost of changing over.

> and it's not "consumer demand" because consumers, by and large, "demand"
> whatever marketing people tell them to demand.

That argument makes no sense. It seems to, and the words are all in the
right order and everything, but I think you may have left out the middle

> so WTF *are* they thinking?

You are assuming they were thinking at all. Most people don't, you know.
But if they were, perhaps the process was one of these three - just a
tiny selection from the vast array of self-deluding mechanisms that
humans have available to them.

"If we don't build it, someone else will anyway, so it might as well be
us". The same logic, possibly, used by the no doubt loving and upright
person who invented the bounding fragmentation mine (or any of a
thousand other machines designed expressly to maim human beings more

"Just me doing X (or not doing X) won't make any difference, so there's
no point. All I would be doing is harming myself for no good reason."
This is the logic used by the person who doesn't speak up when he/she
sees evil. It's the logic used by the person who doesn't even do the
*small* things that are in his/her power to do - like reuse, recycle,
reduce. It's also the logic used by whole countries to opt out of any
attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Evidence cherry-picking. If you don't want to believe in global warming,
you will point triumphantly at the various papers that cast doubt upon
it. You will pounce upon ideas such as "scientists have to keep lying to
keep their funding going". You will overlook that the same funding
systems produced practically every scientific advance in the last
half-century, many of which are in products you use every day. You will
ignore or discount evidence you do not understand, then use that very
discounting as "evidence" for your own stance.

We all of us accept some level of ethical "collateral damage" in our
lives. We hate the fact that we must drive to work, that we must shop in
Woollies, that we must consume so much electricity, that we must produce
so much waste, that we eat meat, that we spend too little time with our
children, that we don't spend more on charity, that we don't care enough
for the Aborigines, refugees, the poor... But the alternatives are so
wearisome! And so costly! To be virtuous in every respect is just so
incredibly *hard*. So we rationalise, make excuses for ourselves,
declare that in this or that other area we are being doubly virtuous, so
it cancels out...

Or we give up, and leave it for others to figure out.

None of this takes any particular skill, and the psychological payoff in
feeling good about yourself is extreme. So everyone does it.

You and me too...

Regards, K.
Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)                   +61-2-64957160 (h)
http://www.biplane.com.au/kauer/                   +61-428-957160 (mob)

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