The great "elephant in the room" is not Global Warming, it is our unwillingness to scale back our progress. Or perhaps it is our definition of progress that is to blame.
With progress comes a certain sense of entitlement. The retired insurance worker who has worked and saved all his life feels entitled to finally reap what he has sewn, in the form of a dream house, or an R.V., or vacations to Europe, or that Corvette he has long lusted after. And why shouldn't he?
Are we entitled to progress? We seem to accept wholesale the idea that entrepreneurship is basically good. After all, our country is essentially founded on the very idea of entrepreneurship. Of course we should reward engenuity. But should we necessarily reward growth? An entrepreneur fosters an idea, and helps it grow. Our system rewards successful growth, but what if the idea is no good? Someone had the idea for a new household cleaning product, they fostered it, helped it grow. Is the Swiffer really a good idea?
The so-called "green movement's" presence in our culture is growing. It is an idea that is being fostered by many. The green movement is misguided, at times, however. Auto companies are scrambling to produce the next Prius because consumers want more efficient cars that pollute less. And as Priuses continue to replace gas guzzlers, we progress towards a greener, cleaner earth. The real problem, however, is that we need to drive less! As a nation we have progressed to the point that almost every American has his or her own personal transportation. We can hop in a car and go anywhere, anytime. The bottom line is that no one wants to give that up. We feel entitled to it. I liken it to telling a kid that if he eats all his peas, he can have desert. So the kid eats all his peas, and gets his desert. Just try to take that desert away from him. We shouldn't reward him for eating his peas- it should be a given that he'll eat his peas. Peas are good for you.
One last example: someone has the idea to start a little mom and pop office supply store. The store does well, and soon they open another one. Eventually the store grows to become a world-wide chain of big box office supply stores. Most people would consider this a great success story: small beginnings lead to wealth and power. What's wrong with running a small office supply store, or even few small office supply stores, and making a decent living? Why did the store need to grow? Why is this growth considered success? Is it really progress to put small office supply stores around the country out of business because they can't compete with big box prices? Yet we are not willing to call into question our right to entrepreneurship.
My hope is that entrepreneurship and moderation can exist harmoniously. Now, if someone figures out how to capitalize on moderation, we'll truly be making progress.