Behavioral Changes Are Needed To Cut Greenhouse Gas

4039031749_e11577042f_oThomas Dietz, a scientist and professor at Michigan State University, says that  applying 17 very simple  practical measures to our daily activities can yield substantial carbon emissions cuts. Dietz argues that new technologies and policies that save energy are needed to fight global climate change, but he also expresses that to implement the policies we are facing daunting technological, economic, and political hurdles.

On the other hand, the basic actions recommended by Thomas Dietz and his MSU colleagues have a low cost, and could be applied very quickly. It would mean some behavior changes in the way Americans deal with their energy consumption. Cutting consumer energy waste is a good place to start as household energy consumption accounts for 38 percent of carbon emissions in the United States or 8 percent of  total world emissions.

“Activities such as weatherization of homes, routine vehicles maintenance and opting for the clothesline instead of the dryer could cut total US carbon emissions by 5 percent over just five years, and by 7.4 percent in ten years,” Dietz said. That is the equivalent of France’s total carbon output.

“On the research end of things, we have invested mostly in engineering approaches- building better technology. But the best technology we can devise doesn’t do us any good if people don’t use it. We can make great progress with the technologies we already have if we pay attention to behavior-how people use the technologies they already have. I have seen many studies that make wild assumptions about how hard or how easy it is to get people to change their behavior, without any basis in science. Our analysis is based on science. We looked at what has been feasible in bringing about changes in energy consumption behavior,” said professor Dietz.

The MSU professor and his team recommended 17 simple behavior changes in their study. For the complete study click here.


3 Responses to Behavioral Changes Are Needed To Cut Greenhouse Gas

  1. SJD October 26, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    On the one hand, I welcome this report. Let’s hope ideas like these keep coming and circulating in the U.S.–and make their way into a federal policy with some serious efficacy.

    On the other, what of China and india, who are on the industrial “up-and-up”? Is there a viable bargaining chip to get these two aspiring powers–China and India–to follow suit, at the expense of their own growing economic self-interests?

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier October 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm

      China is apparently catching up quickly on climate change issues. Not so much in the case of India. The merit of this study is to address Americans behavioral problems in regard of daily energy consumption. As far as global efforts, the one to watch is the global initiative.

      • SJD October 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm

        By the way, thanks for writing that piece on…

        I hadn’t heard of them before your article. Good job!

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