As this NY Times article about Kansas makes clear, energy-saving measures that contribute to sustainability can come from lots of motives besides a belief in climate change, including thrift, religious conviction and a desire to make the US energy self-sufficient. Plastic, the next installment in our Our Reel To Real film series, “Cities, Health and Environment”, looks at sustainability through the lens of consumption. The film shows Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 2:30 in the Allen Library Auditorium.
Attempts by the Obama administration to regulate greenhouse gases are highly unpopular here because of opposition to large-scale government intervention. Some are skeptical that humans might fundamentally alter a world that was created by God.
If the heartland is to seriously reduce its dependence on coal and oil, Ms. Jackson and others decided, the issues must be separated. So the project ran an experiment to see if by focusing on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity, it could rally residents of six Kansas towns to take meaningful steps to conserve energy and consider renewable fuels.
Think of it as a green variation on “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Ms. Jackson suggested, referring to the 2004 book by Thomas Frank that contended that Republicans had come to dominate the state’s elections by exploiting social values.
The project’s strategy seems to have worked. In the course of the program, which ended last spring, energy use in the towns declined as much as 5 percent relative to other areas — a giant step in the world of energy conservation, where a program that yields a 1.5 percent decline is considered successful.