Should Treehuggers Appeal to Selfishness?

No%20Selfishness.gifAfter reading Julie Gerstein's essay "Let's Make Green Selfish" in the Philadelphia Inquirer, we weren't particularly surprised to see a link to Treehugger at the end: after all, many of the points she makes about appealing to people's desire to be cool, hip and fashionable certainly applies to much of what we do here. But to equate that appeal with selfishness, or to suggest that speaking the truth about environmental challenges only disempowers people, strikes us as odd. We believe that the people who read Treehugger, and the many who are embracing environmental awareness around the globe, recognize that green isn't just cool or trendy, but necessary to sustaining a high quality of life, and all of the joy and pleasure that goes with it. Warren summed it up nicely in yesterday's birthday post:

What’s really the bigger news is that through all the media clutter that is the websphere, TreeHugger really resonates with people. They get it. Deep down, you - our loyal readers - know that we need to green our lives, if the future is going to be one we want live in, and pass on to our families. It’s your enthusiasm, your vigour, that enthuses us to seek out the stories that encourage and inspire. Thank you for reading us for the past two years. Thanks for getting out there and metaphorically hugging those trees. ... Don’t forget to tell us how we can grow up big and strong. (We probably won't become firemen and nurses, but we do want to save the world.)
Treehuggers aren't people who shrink from the global ecological challenges facing us, but we also don't think that addressing global warming, polluted land, water and air, or a precarious energy supply, has to involve shedding all of the comforts of contemporary life. Rather, we look for knowledge and information, such as that presented in An Inconvenient Truth, in order to empower ourselves, and to take responsibility for the choices we make as consumers and citizens. Asking people to give up everything they've come to know in order to combat such overwhelming problems likely will have them reaching for the antidepressants; showing them that they can take (small) steps to address these challenges, and can encourage others, whether individuals, organizations, governments or corporations, to do the same gives our readers and the people with whom they come in contact the power to make positive change towards a more sustainable world.

Not only do we not encourage selfishness, but we think there's little time left for it. Rather, we ask our readers to take action, to make the right choices on all of our behalf, and to commit themselves to "doing well by doing good." And every day, we hope to provide just a few more tools, a few more nuggets of knowledge, that will help our readers and others "save the world," and enjoy themselves doing it. That's cool and hip in our book! ::Philadelphia Inquirer via Gristmill

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