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who are the “environmentalists by accident”?

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In this country where climate skepticism occupies a strong place, some citizens have become environmentalists in spite of themselves. How is this possible? Quite simply, these people who are not very sensitive to global warming have let themselves be seduced by green products.

Ecology without sacrifices

On April 24, 2021, the the Wall Street newspaper titled: “How did a wave of electric vehicles accidentally create millions of environmentalists? “. The US daily described the case of Bob Dykes, a 69-year-old man who heads an oil and gas company in the state of Wyoming. A priori, this one is far from being pro-environment. And yet, the interested party recently bought a Tesla sedan, that is to say a fully electric vehicle. He also bought a General Motors electric Hummer. The point is that some car manufacturers have succeeded in converting a population of so far very insensitive to ecological arguments.

For Matthew Kahn, professor of economics at the University of Southern California, these people are “Environmentalists by accident”. Magali Delmas, professor of management in the same establishment uses the term “Environmentalist for convenience”. In other words, these new ecologists agree to choose green products only if there is no question of to resolve to make sacrifices in terms of performance and comfort.

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A trend with limited scope

Obviously, real environmentalists are indignant at this kind of mentality that we could associate with greenwashing. Indeed, it is possible to wonder about the environmental appeal of a 1000 horsepower electric Hummer with three engines. In addition, no one can attest that the electricity powering this vehicle is not made from coal (or gas). And what about the environmental impact of its manufacture?

Matthew Kahn believes, however, that for some, buying a greener product may start a chain reaction. Rodney Swan, chief financial officer at an insurance company, bought a Tesla. The latter then developed a taste for renewable energies to the point of installing photovoltaic panels on the roof of his house.

Nevertheless, it seems that this visible trend among some wealthy people – and for other products for that matter – should remain quite marginal. Let us remember above all that the majority of people reluctant to go to the green side are in the lower classes. Indeed, green products are often more expensive, and this part of the population looks first and foremost at its wallet.


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