Transforming the Relationship Between Humans and the Environment

The Role of Energy Efficiency, Behavioral Change, and Widely Dispersed Renewable Energy Networks in Building Long-Term Prosperity

*by Doug Miller


The so-called human and natural spheres on Earth are often perceived as being distinct entities. The decisions individuals, firms, and governments make highlight this conception in that agents largely disregard their impacts on the environment, the very foundation of society. This perceptual partitioning helps explain why agents believe environmental policies will either improve the environment or their well-being, but not both, as well as why many of the ideas and technologies for mitigating environmental issues that already exist remain in hibernation. Yet one cannot, as has become common in environmental rhetoric, blame individuals or firms alone for failing to instill the (often available) modifications necessary for bringing about more sustainable economies and societies. At the core of the present stalemate in addressing environmental issues –issues that threaten modern notions of well-being– is a set of incentive structures, institutions, as well as cultural and behavioral phenomena that clash with the dynamics of the earth system. Read the full paper (…)

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