A quick visit to the U.K. confirms that environmental and global-warming concerns are, on the surface at least, acutely more pronounced here than in the U.S. Reminders and nudges seem to be everywhere, many of them seemingly intended to make you feel guilty for every breath you draw and every bite you swallow. A bottle of Belu water arrives at the table: “All Profits to Clean Water Projects,” it says. “The U.K.’s First Carbon-Neutral Bottled Water.”
A Times article by Ben Webster reports on a £6 million governmental ad campaign arguing that “Man is causing global warming and endangering life on Earth”:
Ministers sanctioned the campaign because of concern that scepticism about climate change was making it harder to introduce carbon-reducing policies such as higher energy bills.
The advertisement attempts to make adults feel guilty about their legacy to their children. It features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of “a very very strange” world with “horrible consequences” for today’s children.
The little girl has an angel’s face; the bedtime story includes weeping bunnies, rising seas, drowning doggies, and evil, energy-consuming grownups.
Most interesting, to me at least, was this bit of the article:
When asked how they would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious effect on their children’s lives, 74 percent [of British adults surveyed] said that they would be willing to change their lifestyle. Fifteen percent said that they would not make any changes.
That’s encouraging, yes? Three of four adults “would be willing to change their lifestyle.”
But I’d advise you to ignore this survey completely. As we write at some length in SuperFreakonomics, such declarations of good intentions, which come at a personal cost with little in the way of immediate benefit, are the emptiest of promises.
Interestingly, my visit to London occurred on the same day the Sunday Times ran a longish extract (not yet online) of SuperFreakonomics; its headline: “Why Everything You Think You Know About Global Warming Is Wrong.”
That said, the incessant environmental nudging worked on me, at least for the first meal I took here. Instead of a breakfast including every form of meat known to man (as if often the case here), I took the Vegetarian English Breakfast, with a “sausage” made of spinach and ricotta (yum), vegetarian black pudding (like chomping a dry sponge), and a few slices of soy bacon (tasted quite nice, although it looked like a surgical glove). I believe the eggs actually came from chickens, though I cannot be certain.