The main environmental motivator these days seems to be one of fear. The press is jumping on every alarming article relating to the environment. Additionally, authors like James Kunstler, promote fear and despair through his best-selling books. In my opinion this is turning many against the environment and sustainable living. This leads me to think about what motivates us in our lives.
As a Mormon missionary, my two years were spent under two very distinct mission presidents. The first had a military background and would pound his fist on the table during zone conferences, raising his voice to inspire us to greater diligence. The second was soft spoken, telling us often of his love for us and expressing appreciation for what we were doing. Both were effective. Some responded better to one over the other depending on their personality.
Fear, as a motivator, doesn’t work in many cases. This study shows how positive messages, rather than threats, are more likely to help smokers overcome their habit. Other powerful motivators include duty, love, and selfishness; a soldier on the front line, a father caring for a sick child, a worker doing well in order to receive a promotion. I think that each of these has a place even though we may view certain motives as loftier than others.
How does this relate to the environment? I have summarized my list of Environmental Motivators below:
Global Warming – based on fear (we are destroying the earth)
Personal Gain – based on selfishness (we can benefit from the earth)
Stewardship – based on duty (we are responsible for the earth)
Sacred Creation – based on love (we are connected to the earth)
Global warming and eco-trendy products seem to get all the coverage. Stewardship and the sacredness of creation rarely make headlines, but they still exist. In the end, isn’t the most newsworthy report that when millions of people resolve to “rise a little higher, be a little better” (Gordon B Hinckley) all forms of life on the earth will benefit?
An example from my own life: I have used public transit to commute to and from work for many years because the purchase, gas, and maintenance of another vehicle was expensive. My motive was purely based on saving money, but it helped the environment regardless of my intent. There are many ways an environmental benefit can be gained, even if we may be driven by very different, and sometimes opposing, agendas.
What motivates you? Have you changed any part of your life or habits relating to the environment? If so, what motivated you to make the change? If not, what is holding you back?
A guest post from Jonathan of Green Mormon Architect.
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