Only So Much To Go Around: A Green Economics Paradox

New Scientist Print Edition of 16 September 2006 reports on an academic study of how green purchasing behavior (our lifestyles) affect the environment. A substantive conclusion of the work is that because we Tree Huggers spend more on green products we have less to give to the Beltway lobby industry: a.k.a. the NGO's or 'green charities.' Quoting from the New Scientist abstract, admittedly a distant source, to which we are constrained because the original publication is by subscription only, we have this. Now an economic model devised by [Matthew] Kotchen suggests that, having bought premium green goods, consumers may be less willing to donate directly to environmental causes, possibly lowering the overall contribution they would otherwise have made (Journal of Political Economy, vol 114, p 816). "The result doesn't actually suggest that green products are bad, but we need to be more cautious," he says" So, the premium I paid for my hybrid might better have gone to a tax deductible donation? We wonder, too, if the model takes into account the reduced emissions from my hybrid? For less technical reasons, we think, the author's suggestion is off the mark. Strategies shift, and tactics change to adapt to new realities. With a few notable exceptions, for example, NGO's have a minimal overall bang for their green buck when it comes to resource consumption originating in distant lands. China and India specifically. An NGO 'tithe' from a mass of green consumers would have no effect whatsoever on CAFE standards. Lobbying can't produce beautiful designs that drive change outside the "green consumer" niche. And, cooperation and partnership are the ways forward. So, how about another modeling run on what happens when beautiful green designs go mainstream?