Americans are often exhorted to be more like Europeans in the environmental department. We're told to buy less! Leave the SUV at home and ride your bike more often, or take public transport! Fix old appliances rather than replace them! And of course, environmentalists constantly whine that the U.S. government has yet to ratify the Kyoto protocol like our more enlightened continental friends.
Yet it seems that perhaps the Europeans aren't quite as concerned about being green as our media and other global warming cheerleaders purport them to be. Reuters reported yesterday that at IFA, a huge consumer electronics fair being held in Berlin through September 5th, consumers were more interested in how big and bright television screens were than how green the electronics companies are striving to be.
Among the exhibitors displaying "green credentials" at IFA are Philips, Sharp, and Fujitsu-Siemens, with the latter citing a Greenpeace study that said environmental concerns were third on the list of important attributes for buyers. But it looks like attendees at IFA didn't get the memo:
But most visitors to whom Reuters spoke at IFA seemed uninterested or even confused when asked what importance green concerns had in their buying choices.
Richard Lee, a 35-year-old electronics engineer, shrugged when asked whether he preferred green products. "I prefer Japanese products," he said, prying the back off a high-definition TV monitor to peer at the inner components.
And another attendee quoted even wondered if environmentalism and luxury electronics could be reconciled:
"I saw one big one showing images of the Arctic and the melting ice caps, and I thought: This is a bit ironic, because probably it is part of the problem," [Frank Schmitz] said.
Ironic indeed. Here at home, we have presidential candidate John Edwards advising Americans to chuck their SUVs while he continues to own and use two of his own, which are parked in front of his extremely spacious home. We also have the current king of environmentalism, Al Gore, jetting to and fro across the globe in a private plane -- despite the fact that doing so creates four times more the carbon emission damage than joining the teeming masses on a commercial jet. Don't forget, Gore also wipes his feet at an extremely large house with an equally large utility bill. Yes, Gore pays for "carbon offsets, " as does Edwards -- but offsets have been called into question as a scam, and can be compared to "papal indulgences," or buying salvation, that helped lead to the Reformation back in the 16th century.
Having gone from monarchies to socialist governments, Europeans seem less likely to question edicts from on high by their "social betters" than Americans, who back in 1776 said "enough is enough" to such high-handed, ham fisted tactics. But with the Brits thinking maybe global warming is being hyped in order to raise taxes and Germans using their wallets, not "green credentials," to decide if they should buy a new television, maybe those days are coming to and end?
It's early days yet, of course. But don't expect the American media to make much of these and other developments on the other side of the pond. They still believe in Al Gore, carbon credits and pixie dust.