Uncovering the Cultural Barriers to Sustainability

Sometimes our everyday assumptions and practices that go unquestioned are the ones that are keeping us from real sustainability. I appreciated the example of how air-conditioning has influenced the way we build houses and think about dealing with heat and weather.

My dad made a practice of turning over the rocks of American everyday habits to find the underlying cultural expectations, and he was particularly concerned with how many prominent values in American society were at odds with environmental values.  For example, as Americans we tend to value cheapness, comfort, and convenience, three values (of 11 that he wrote essays on) that frequently increase rather than decrease our environmental footprint.

For example, in an essay he wrote on air conditioning, he explains how this 20th century technology undermined hundreds of years of cultural conditioning that helped humans stay cool with a smaller environmental footprint.

Uncovering the Cultural Barriers to Sustainability: a Eulogy for Jim Farrell | Grist.

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