Save The Planet? Forget About It...

"Please, I beg you, if you care about climate change forget about "saving the planet"." So argues George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach Network in a blog post over at the Guardian. We're inclined to agree. Before the angry comments pile up, we should clarify that he is in no way suggesting we give up on the struggle, merely that we change the way we frame the argument. TreeHugger has long been clear about the fact that we need to change the way we talk about and present sustainability. From our celebrations of modern green design through to guest posts on marketing really, really well, our motto of "hip not hippy" has been a rallying cry for presenting a vibrant, forward looking vision of the future. According to George, there is no better example of the need to change our language than that tired old phrase "saving the planet":

First there is that word "planet". This word contains no sense of emotional connection. What is a planet? A lump of cold rock floating in space. Personally it does nothing for me. My attachment is to my family, friends, and community. The further I get away from that core the less I feel connected or prepared to act. The word planet, like climate, distances it even further from my immediate concerns.

And then there is this saving thing. Some people, and I am one, are motivated by the call to save something specific from imminent destruction - rainforests or whales or the panda - but this is a rallying cry for a campaign, not a total change in behaviour.

The phrase "save the planet" is closely associated with these worthy campaigns and the activist culture that produced them, which, let's face it, is overwhelmingly white and middle class. It is not an association that reaches deep into mainstream society.

If we are to achieve any kind of progress, George argues, we need to accept that people want to make things better; that they want personal gain; and that they never want to live with less. The key then is to frame sustainability as a question of forward thinking, innovative and responsible living that will ultimately offer us a better quality of life. We certainly can't argue with that. ::The Guardian::via site visit::

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