British papers are fun. The Daily Mail recently ran a deliciously nasty article on hippy-crites, those pious celebrities (like John Travolta, Chris Martin and Brangelina) who talk endlessly about global warming and yet still fly in lots of private jets. Travolta, for instance, recently few by himself from Europe to the United States in a Boeing 707, which can normally hold more than 100 people.
But this isn’t just a problem for celebrities. A new paper in Conservation Biology looked at how the “environmental attitudes” of individuals affected the location of their home in the Teton Valley of Idaho and Wyoming. Ironically, the scientists found that the most environmentally conscious people – they also tended to be older and more educated – chose to live in the most natural areas, and thus had a greater environmental impact on the surrounding landscape. These are the same people who drive a Prius to the local Whole Foods, where they buy organic vegetables and grass-fed beef and carry everything home in a fashionable reusable bag (in other words, they are bougies like me). And yet, because we all want to commune with nature, to have enough land so that we can inefficiently grow our heirloom tomatoes, we end up taking up more land and consuming more resources. I would appreciate the irony if it didn’t so effectively describe the life to which I aspire.