CO2 emissions from Negawatts: Cultural Values need to change

On our mailing list, Maurie Cohen raised attention to the following article in the Huffington Post, written our SCORAI member Richard Wilk.

Cultural Values need to change if we want to slow down climate change.

The CO2 emissions of sacred cows
Richard Wilk
Indiana University


Several years ago we had our kitchen rebuilt by a local couple who designed and then built gorgeous cabinets out of wood that came from a sawmill right here in town. The whole thing cost about three times as much as it would have cost to buy nice cabinets at the superstore and have them installed by a journeyman carpenter. The superstore would have finished quickly, while the skilled crafts people took three months. We were initially thrilled with the beautiful results, but now I find myself wondering if mass producing the cabinets in a large factory using generic materials and efficient machinery may have been much more energy-efficient than having our specialists constantly driving back and forth, running woodworking equipment for hours at a time, and ordering both tools and hardware from China. In retrospect, we should have had to buy negawatts for the luxury of a kitchen like that, in order to wake us up to the true environmental costs of the different options. We might still prefer to pay friends of friends in our own community, rather than an anonymous country and faceless workers far away. But that is a political and economic issue, not one based on the urgent issue posed by climate change. Our aesthetic was actually a class based notion of the value of human skill and community, a set of values that are probably going to have to fall by the wayside if our children are going to keep their heads above the rising sea level.

Read more at The CO2 emissions of sacred cows.