Living Green and Living Well: Climate Change and the Low-Carbon Imaginary

23 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 26 May 2014

See all articles by Steve Vanderheiden

Steve Vanderheiden

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 29, 2010

Abstract

Given imperatives to dramatically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and the entrenched social norms that countenance and even encourage carbon-intensive lifestyles, it has become clear that any effective response to these imperatives will have to combine policy instruments that incentivize decarbonization efforts with normative critique that dissociates greenhouse pollution from living well. What is needed, in other words, is the development of a low-carbon imaginary as a positive vision of individual sustainability without the associations between green living and the austerity and sacrifice that such efforts typically connote. Unlike temporary crises for which temporary austerity measures are sometimes effectively mobilized, the spectre of global climate change requires permanent normative transformation that equates living sustainably with living well. In this paper, I examine a variety of critical social movements that aim to create such a new cultural imaginary, including what Juliet Schor terms 'downshifting,' Michael Pollanメs food activism, and Kalle Lasnメs culture jamming, with the aim of assessing the extent to which such movements and the critical normative work they represent might effectively assist in the difficult transition to a low-carbon society, supporting and supplementing the policy efforts that cannot succeed without them.

Suggested Citation

Vanderheiden, Steve, Living Green and Living Well: Climate Change and the Low-Carbon Imaginary (March 29, 2010). Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580334

Steve Vanderheiden (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science ( email )

333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
United States

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