Can we respond to problems like global warming where there’s “no simple villain”?
We grew up in the twentieth century when everything about the environment was either “woe is me” or “shame on you.” It’s all coming undone, and it’s your fault. That is so antiquated when you look at a problem like climate change, where there’s no whodunit. It’s, ‘We all dunit.’ We’re all using energy. You can punish Exxon, but I still have to fill up my Prius once in awhile and my mini van, which I need because we have two dogs, is not the most efficient vehicle in the world. So whodunit? Me. But the old model was that it had to be someone else’s fault and the other part of the old model was we had to pass a law, which basically means the solution is someone else’s solution. It’s government, a treaty, a law that’ll solve it. Things like climate change are just so much more wicked than the kind of problem you would solve that way. We have to get comfortable with the story when there is no simple villain….