I generally think of green dogma as something that the gentry class imposes on the rest of us–you peons have to live more poorly, never mind my yacht and private jet. But there is another side to it, as well, as we see in the Guardian: environmentalism as a manifestation of class envy. The article describes green angst in the advertising industry:
There is increasing agreement that although individual behaviour should not be the primary focus for change, some individuals’ behaviour – namely that of the world’s wealthiest people – has a much bigger impact not only on global emissions but also on broader economic and political trends.
What trends are those? The Guardian doesn’t say.
But how should the advertising and PR industries grapple with the overconsumption of the top 10%?
“The fundamental question is: is the advertising industry going to help or hinder society in its attempt to reach net zero?” said Jonathan Wise, a co-founder of the nonprofit group Purpose Disruptors, which aims to shift the industry away from high-consumption advertising. “At the moment, on balance of evidence, the decision is to hinder. It’s advertising driving consumption upward.”
There has been a push within the industry to get advertising to shift towards more sustainable products, for example electric vehicles rather than combustion engine cars, or plant-based foods as opposed to beef.
There is nothing sustainable about electric vehicles. On the contrary, they are extraordinarily resource-intensive.
And while a handful of agencies are looking to sell greener options, the actions of the industry as a whole seem to show a resistance to considering such things as their responsibility. The transportation sector, identified as probably the most significant area of consumption for the top 10% by Julia Steinberger, a professor of ecological economics at the University of Lausanne and the author of a 2020 paper on the topic, is a good example. “The categories of consumption that the wealthiest people overconsume or overspend on and that constitute the big difference in their emissions is really flying longer distances, and driving bigger cars longer distances, so transportation is really the big one,” Steinberger said.
Of course, “overconsumption” and “overspending” are in the eye of the beholder.
Another part of the problem, according to Townsend, is that ostentation is desirable. “All throughout human history and all throughout the animal kingdom, wasteful overconsumption is used as a signal of desirability of a mate,” she said, citing a peacock’s feathers as a good example. “And so one of the things which marketers who know this very well can do is to kind of go: how can we make sustainable products that look ostentatious?”
Actually, I think we are already doing that. “Green” consumption is largely an effort at virtue signaling.
There is more at the link, but I think the salient point is that some people (in this case, in the advertising industry) are openly talking about how to use the “green” ideology of scarcity to reduce the standard of living of the top 10%.