Friday, May 20, 2011

The Folly of the Individual Choice Model of Social Change

NPR today has a feature on well meaining folk who motivated by the Deep Horizon oil spill, have decided to attempt to give up oil.

"As many Americans struggle with higher gas prices, others look for ways to live using fewer fossil fuels. They pursue a personal form of energy independence — and they are finding that it's no easy feat.
About a year ago, following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig catastrophe that released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Mary Richert decided that she wanted to live a life free of oil. "I quit," she told American Public Media's radio program Marketplace. "I just want to stop using oil completely. I just don't want to ever see it or think about it again."
So she set out on a journey to give up gasoline. Every day, Richert, 28, a project manager for a small tech firm, tried to eliminate one thing in her life that was made with, or dependent on the production of, petroleum. She quit buying plastic ware for her kitchen. She shopped for local produce. She chronicled her quest on her blog, Not an Activist."
Certainly there is nothing wrong with attempting to reduce or even eliminate one's use of fossil fuels.  Relying on your bicycle, gardening, and reducing consumption in general is a positive thing.  No criticism of that, necessarily.  However, let's get real.  If we really want to do something about the problems of fossil fuels, then what is needed is a mass collective to drive policy making elites to effect bold new policies changing our energy infrastructure.  This is just absurd to think a person can do anything by trying to do what these well intentioned individuals are doing.  And how telling the name of her blog "Not an Activist".  

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