Overconsumption
When rational appeals fall short, environmentalists enlist social and economic incentives–and even neuroscience–to get the public in on national efforts to combat climate change. Scientific American reports.

Energy efficiency seems to make rational economic sense—the less energy used, the more money saved. Yet, in the real world it’s actually competition with neighbors rather than cost savings that can drive people to turn down their thermostats, install insulation or simply switch off the lights when they leave a room. Such is the lesson of a host of efforts, ranging from a group called OPOWER’s comparative use utility billing to switching from miles per gallon to rate vehicle efficiency to gallons per mile.

Now a new collaborative study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind and Behavior Project reveals that such simple actions—from taking one fewer flight per year to wasting less food—can add up.

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