Gernot Wagner, an economist for the Environmental Defense Fund, recently published an Op-Ed in the NY Times entitled, Going Green but Getting Nowhere.
The basic premise of the piece is that in order to address large global issues, such as climate change and ocean ecosystem decline, we need actions that are much, much larger than individual actions such as recycling, using reuseable bags and offsetting our carbon foot print. In fact, he argues that these issues might actually be counter productive because they give individuals a false sense of complacency. Instead, he argues, we need large scale collective action. In other words, serious policy reform at the federal level.
Mr. Wagner is correct that these little actions will not add up to offset the environmental impacts our society is currently creating. But he is wrong about these efforts being counterproductive and distracting us from the need for collective action. After over a decade of working with grassroots activists on ocean and coastal issues, I have seen the exact opposite to be true.