I was driving with my wife recently and she got very upset when she saw a car next to us with small children inside who were not locked into their child seats or seat belts. It caused me to reflect on how far we have come with automobile safety and cultural norms on safety; and how this could be an analogy for the sustainability movement.When I was a kid, it was very common to ride in the car, jumping back and forth between the front and back seat without ever wearing a seat belt. Sevearal years later seat belts became mandatory and then air bags were added. The auto companies may have been resistant to adding passive restraint devices, but they soon learned to use these devices as a competitive advantage in marketing their cars as, “the safest vehicles on the road”. So in thirty years, we went from something that was perfectly acceptable (riding in the car as a child with no seat belts) to a competitive marketing advantage, to an illegal activity (not using the devices), to a moral outrage (my wife’s reaction to the children without car seats). Could this be the same path for sustainability? Companies were resistant to regulations, leaned to comply with the law, and now are marketing their “green” efforts as a competitive advantage. Will people be morally outraged if you are not reducing your climate change footprint? Maybe that future is not too for off. Your thoughts?
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