Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saving Money, Saving The Planet

People like to save money, if you show them how to do it (especially if it's easy) they will.  It never ceases to amaze me what a poor job of using this piece of information environmentalists do.  If you can get folks to cut their energy usage because it saves them money, do it.  Don't bother with a bid spiel about how it will save the planet or combat global warming or so on.  People don't need to care about saving the planet to help do so.

Why climate change prevention advocates aren't more results oriented is a mystery that I've given up trying to solve.  I'm with Richard Branson on this one who told the New Yorker (in a great innovators issue profile a few years ago) that we will eventually save the planet because it will make the people who come up with the solutions very, very rich.  That works on a small scale too.  Showing people that if they change to CFL bulbs, unplug electronics when not in use, and turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees they'll save on their utility bills is the same thing only on a micro scale.

Saving the world is nice and all, but financial incentives are powerful motivators.

So it was great to see the front page piece in the NYT last Tuesday about a group on Kansas that has taken this tact and successfully gotten several small towns to reduce their energy consumption and their bills, all without mentioning climate change or saving the planet. 

Getting 5% energy reductions in the Midwest, where only 48% of people agree that climate change is an issue is an amazing feat.  This is a project that needs instant replication everywhere. 

Be sure to read the whole story.  The NYT also has a page for the Beyond Fossil Fuels series of which this story is a part, and a slide show of the Kansas towns involved in the project.

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