Azara Blog: The world allegedly needs to focus on "intrinsic" values

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Date published: 2008/04/22

The BBC says:

Small changes to the way we live our lives are not enough to tackle the environmental challenges facing the planet, argues Tom Crompton. In this week's Green Room, he says the stark reality is that the only option is to cut the unsustainable consumption of the Earth's finite resources.

Unfortunately Crompton, from the organisation WWF-UK, then proceeds to spend 882 words saying nothing very much. His grand plan seems to rest on one paragraph, over halfway down (after he has probably lost most of his readers because he is not saying anything):

Studies find that people who engage in behaviour in pursuit of "intrinsic" goals - such as personal growth, community involvement, or a sense of connection with nature - tend to be more highly motivated and more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviour than individuals who are motivated by "extrinsic" goals - that is, financial success, image and the acquisition of material goods.

So people who do things that Crompton likes tend to do things that Crompton likes. Who would have thought? Not surprisingly the correlation between X and Y = X is pretty good. The man is a genius. If we only pursued "intrinsic" goals we would all be pursuing "intrinsic" goals. And on the other hand, pursuing "extrinsic" goals leads to pursuing "extrinsic" goals. Of course "intrinsic" is a nice word and "extrinsic" is a naughty word, so the former must be good, and the latter must be evil. Q.E.D.

Right at the end we get the usual mantra of the so-called environmentalists, that we should be "preparing for a world where we will inevitably need to consume not just differently, but less". Of course what he means is that we should consume less of things he doesn't like (presumably mobile phones, cars, airplanes, etc., but he doesn't bother telling us) and more of things he does like (presumably fluffy little animals who are going extinct, etc., but he doesn't bother telling us). And he doesn't even mention the number one problem in the world, i.e. population. Unfortunately for Crompton, the goal of the world should be to raise the living standards of the poorest to that of the richest, not to lower the living standards of the richest to that of the poorest.

The world would be a lot better off if instead of funding pointless organisations like WWF-UK, capable of producing words but not much else, we instead spent the money on real scientists and engineers finding real solutions to real problems.

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