Being “environmentally conscious” will not necessarily make you a better person. In fact, it may make you worse. That’s the “surprising finding” (their term) of two Canadian psychologists. And all this time I thought a smaller carbon footprint was my ticket to sainthood.
From The Guardian’s How going green may make you mean:
According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet… it leads to the “licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour”, otherwise known as “moral balancing” or “compensatory ethics”.
Do Green Products Make Us Better People is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the “halo of green consumerism” are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. “Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours,” they write. (emphasis mine)
The pair found that those in their study who bought green products appeared “less willing to share with others,” more likely to lie, and “were six times more likely to steal” than conventional consumers. The reason why? Going green makes one feel so morally superior that they can afford to fudge on ethics. I mean, what does it matter if you cheat on taxes or act like a snob — you’re saving the planet, brah!
It reinforces a thesis of mine that modern environmentalism breeds narcissism. Of course, this is not to say that no environmental concerns are worth fighting for. But in a world where Leftist politics drives most environmental causes, going green is as much a statement of class as it is of legitimate concern. Nowadays, Earth worship is really self-worship, and saving the environment is the equivalent of validating my existence.
It is one of the defining differences between secularism and a Judeo-Christian worldview. Secularism defines virtue in terms of social justice. Religion defines virtue in terms of personal integrity. The secularist honors those who recycle, use mass transit, and avoid Styrofoam products. The Christian honors those who tell the truth and show compassion. The secularist fights external forces like global warming, poverty, world hunger, animal experimentation, and oil companies. The religious individual fights internal forces like sin, pride, selfishness, and greed.
So while going green might save some penguins and shrink some landfills, it won’t necessarily make us better people. And who would you rather live with, someone who refuses to consume animal products or someone who won’t steal your silverware?