Eco-nomy/Eco-logy (both words stem from the Greek oikos, or “household.” Ecology is the study of the household, economy is the practice of housekeeping)
It’s the economy, stupid! That was the mantra of President Clinton’s reelection campaign way-back-when—it needs to be our environmental motto as well: we have to make good eco-behavior pay off and make our bad behavior cost, otherwise most of us—and for sure the economy as a whole—won’t have an incentive to preserve the planet.
Unfortunately, we kind of have it the other way around—doing the wrong thing often pays, while trying to do the right thing can be costly.
Some ways we don’t pay for our eco-sins: (bump down links to the sections below)
What to do? We’d like to think our own good eco-behavior is a path to changing the world. Not so, says Gernot Wagner in But Will the Planet Notice. Noble as it is, it won’t matter, he says—so long as there are 7+billion people going in the other direction. (See our counter-argument re personal action below.)
When we emailed Wagner for his advice on what we can do, his suggestions were 1) buy his book 2) study economics 3) work locally to affect things within your reach. Here are some possibilities: