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Encouraging North Americans to Pollute Less, Consume Fewer Resources, and Use Less Energy since 2007.

(Better Late Than Never).


Feeling Guilty?

I have been told and I have read in response to online posts that making people feel guilty is counterproductive and will result in those people looking away, doing the opposite, ignoring the facts, etc. This may very well be. I do not know though if it can be helped.

I often compare polluting the environment with child abuse or rape. Such abuse hurts people physically and emotionally, it destroys lives, it is wrong, there is no reason to do it, it is illegal. With the exception of illegal (at least in most cases), polluting the environment is in principle about as good as abusing children or raping people. Of course, unlike rape or child abuse the effects of damaging the environment are not immediately noticeable and do not violate a single person terribly, but hurt many just a bit. Nonetheless, research shows that the overall damage is significant and will be very noticeable if we do not stop. Feeling guilty is the absolute minimum anyone should "pay for" intentional eco-negative behavior. It is rather unfortunate (terrible actually) that both child abuse and rape are still accepted and tolerated in many parts of the world. This mind-set makes it difficult to create change for the environment. It will occur after people treat each other better. A healthy environment cannot precede a healthy society.

The mission of any environmental movement is to change behavior. There are many reasons why an individual will feel pressure to change a behavior. Reason, competition, survival, laws, fear, and guilt. Avoiding feeling guilty is just one of those reasons. To avoid feeling guilty one could, for instance, stop the behavior that is the cause for that guilty feeling. Or one could seek support from those who do not feel guilty even though they are doing the same thing. In part, guilt is a feeling that is based on a fear of negative judgement by others.

If you are feeling guilty when it comes to environmental issues, you either believe you are doing the wrong thing or you are spending too much time with people who do not appreciate what you are doing. So, either spend more time with people who do not care, or tell yourself that there are more important things to worry about, or begin doing the right thing.

In a way it is a good sign that you may feel guilty and discover that it is difficult to get rid of the feeling. It shows that you and our society have a bit less tolerance for actions that damage the environment. Still too much in my opinion, but certainly less than 20 years ago.

My goal is to offer you a tool to inform yourself (= this website) and ultimately change your behavior. Nevertheless, I am not in charge of what you choose to do.

You are.



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