Thursday, February 14, 2008

We Cannot Shop Our Way to a Greener World

Today's must read: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Inverted Quarantine', an article by Andrew Szasz, a professor and chairman of the department of sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of Shopping Our Way to Safety: How We Changed From Protecting the Environment to Protecting Ourselves. Not only does it briefly review the evils of bottled water, but it goes on to discuss the idea of an "Inverted Quarantine" response to environmental awareness

in which people act not as political subjects, not as citizens, but as consumers who seem interested only in individual acts of self-protection, in trying to keep contaminants out of their bodies.
This leads to the bigger problem, the problem that kept Bush in office two terms while Whole Foods expanded its marketshare and Wal-Mart started selling organic produce.
Inverted-quarantine products do not work nearly well enough to actually protect those who put their faith in them. But consumers believe they work. That belief, in turn, tends to decrease our collective will to truly confront serious environmental issues.

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