Many environmental problems relate back to Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons observation. I've felt for a long time that community pressure is one of the best ways for solving environmental problems. For a hokey analogy, your much less likely to litter if someone from your aerobics class is watching.
I think we need to put the very real, very strong force of peer pressure on people to solve today's pressing environmental problems. I have two ideas that I've thought about for a while, but would like to get a discussion on other areas where peer pressure can be brought to bear.
- The first project would be to install a green button on gas pumps that when pressed, adds $.05 per gallon. The money goes to groups who offset the bads of driving, e.g. forest management projects, clean energy projects, and asthma programs for kids. An illuminable icon is placed on top of each pump, and is lit up green when a motorist presses the button. It stays brown if they don't. A good marketing campaign would be launched to clearly show a. how driving is bad for the environment, b. how these external costs are not paid for, c. how their small contribution will make a difference.
The desire to be seen as green will get a lot of people to contribute. This would generate revenue for worthwhile offset projects and generate awareness that driving causes environmental damage. First steps to implenting this project would be a. develop a prototype of the technology, b. find a gas station partner, c. do a demo at one station, d. roll out the system. Email me if you'd like to work on this one.
- The second project is to offer people electricity generated from renewable energy -- much like Green Mountain Power does today. The difference I propose is to get customers to display a sign on their lawn or a sticker on their mailbox. The sticker will tell everyone else on the block that this house really cares and is buying green power. Once one third of the neigbourhood has the sticker, that block will hit a tipping point, and the rest will feel pressure to buy green energy as well.
Lets get some more ideas flowing on how peer pressure can effect environmental change.