Are Champagne Environmentalists Hypocrites?


Image credit: ilkerender, used under Creative Commons license.

We already know that nagging girlfriends are a bigger environmental influence than celebrity campaigners and that there are plenty of celebrity environmentalists in need of green 101, and yet from Sting's organic food store to Chris Martin's sexy vegetarianism there are no shortage of glitterati willing to step up and speak out on environmental issues. But does it help? And does it matter that many of the great and the green have carbon footprints the size of Manhattan? One activist is arguing that it does. Champagne environmentalists are, he says, nothing but a bunch of hypocrites—and they are distracting us from the task of real change. Climate Celebrities Are Irrelevant
Ed Gillespie, founder of Futerra Communications, has an awful lot to say about celebrity environmentalists. From Prince Charles' biofuelled train tour to Chris Martin's jet-setting lifestyle, the eco-preachings of the ultra-rich are not just hypocritical, but also ineffective:

Like the highly discredited theory of "trickle-down" economics, there is a belief that this "eco-leadership" will somehow percolate into our collective consciousness and create demand for environmental goods and services at all levels of the economy. But this is missing the point.

Celebrity Culture Distracts from Real Change
While I myself have written in defense of hypocrisy, and urged folks not to pounce on those doing something just because they are not doing enough, I think Gillespie's musings have a core truth to them that reach beyond the usual finger pointing and blame game. (although Gillespie doesn't hold back with the scathing criticism either.)

Eco-celebrities are not irrelevant because of their carbon footprints, but because they encourage us to focus on entirely the wrong things. Going green is not about altering what we consume, but rather how and even if we consume in the traditional sense of the word:

I think the real fizz and excitement in sustainability is to be found where lifestyles and business models are being radically transformed. The Transition Network and the collaborative consumption movement. The high-end eco-products and aspirational lifestyles that alter our footprints by incremental percentage changes lull us into false security about dealing with the problem of climate change. The environmental lifestyle champagne has definitely gone flat.

More on Celebrity Environmental Campaigns
7 Fabulously Green Celebrity Homes
7 Celebrity Environmentalists in Need of Green 101
Celebrity Campaigns Only Go So Far. Your Nagging Girlfriend Matters More.

Tags: Activism | Actors | Global Climate Change | Movies | Music | United Kingdom