Good environmental intentions are swamped by the effects of money.

One of the perennial debates in environmentalism, which has transferred over to the climate change discussion, is what role personal choices play in the grand scheme of things. Can consumer decisions play a substantial role in reducing emissions? Are people who are concerned about global warming obliged to reduce their own carbon footprint? Is emitting carbon a personal sin (so to speak) as well as a social one?

I have always been a skeptic about the role of personal choices in the climate fight, and a recent study has helped crystallize why. To put it in a nutshell: One’s environmental impact is primarily determined by structural features of one’s life circumstances, especially socioeconomic status.

Or to put it more bluntly: Rich people emit more carbon, even when they recycle and buy canvas tote bags full of organic veggies.

Good reasons to reduce your footprint

Before I say anything negative about lifestyle decisions (and get a bunch of angry emails), an important caveat: This story focuses only on climate change and carbon emissions.

There are many, many good reasons to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Fresh organic produce is healthy. Reducing/reusing/recycling waste shrinks landfills. Walking and riding bikes makes you happier and more engaged with your community. (Indeed, every second spent locomoting in some fashion other than a personal vehicle is a blessing to your physical and mental health.) Preferring experiences to things is more fulfilling.

Please, go forth and be green. You will be a better person for it.

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Greener, happier.

All I’m talking about here is climate change — what it will take to slow and reverse the rise in global temperature.

Global warming is not only of a different scale than Read More Here