Why Nobody Cares About The Environment

Climate change, pollution and the destruction of natural habitats are all issues that have become increasingly prevalent in the media, business, and even personal lives of many people around the world. With the number of environmental awareness campaigns increasing year-on-year, it’s almost as if everyone has suddenly woken up to how our planet is changing for the worse.

Many people who do have a genuine interest in the environment too often ask themselves “why does nobody care about the environment?”. This is clearly hyperbole, but there is a need to ask ourselves why there isn’t more urgent action taking place.

What is behind our lack of response to climate change?

Climate change is closely linked to the health of our environment. However, many people don’t seem too concerned about what this means for the planet, or the future of humanity. There are a number of possible explanations for this. Firstly, the topic of the environment is notoriously difficult to understand. 

The science behind climate change is complicated and can be difficult to conceptualise. In addition, many people don’t believe that climate change is something that will impact them during their lifetime. This could be due to a lack of education on the subject, or perhaps a lack of empathy for people who will be affected by climate change in the future. 

Another reason why people may not be as concerned about climate change is because they feel too helpless to do anything about it. This could be due to a lack of information about how we can change our individual lifestyles, or a lack of willpower to make the necessary sacrifices.

Why is nobody taking more action against Climate Change?

Despite the fact that the majority of people are concerned about climate change, very few are taking proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprint. This could be due to a number of reasons, including a lack of knowledge about how to reduce one’s carbon emissions, or a lack of motivation to change one’s lifestyle. 

It can be difficult to imagine how shopping for zero waste products, for example, can help to lessen our impact on the environment. There’s very little tangible benefit, other than feeling like you’re making a difference.

There is also the fact that many people are simply unaware of the extent of the problem. This could be due to a lack of education on the subject, or a lack of accurate information in the media. 

There is also a sense of fatalism about climate change, with many people believing that it is too late to avoid a major catastrophe. This could be due to a lack of knowledge about what we can do as individuals, or a feeling of powerlessness against large corporations.

Being eco-friendly has become a marketing tool

The environment has become a popular marketing tool for large corporations, with many brands creating marketing campaigns centred around the preservation of natural habitats, the reduction of carbon emissions, and producing less waste. Whilst it’s obviously great that many companies want to do more for the environment, it does seem somewhat cynical that they are only doing this for profit.

The environment has become an important part of company reputations, which is why so many large corporations are now investing in green initiatives. By investing in the environment, brands can boost their reputations, attract new customers, and generate positive press. 

However, while this is great in theory, in reality it is leading to a situation where corporations are profiting from environmental concerns, without actually doing anything to reduce their carbon emissions. In many cases this might not be their intention, but it is certainly what is happening.

People are aware of greenwashing

While it’s true that some companies are genuinely reducing their environmental impact, others are attempting to simply jump on the bandwagon, and now people are getting wise to it. This has led to a situation where companies aren’t entirely trustworthy about their green credentials. 

Where there is concern for the environment, there is also the opportunity for targeted marketing using a practise called greenwashing. Greenwashing is where a company makes misleading claims that it is eco-friendly, when in reality it is making misleading claims.

Perhaps the most recent notable example of this is carbon offsetting. This is a form of corporate greenwashing, where companies are highlighting the money they spend on reforestation or other beneficial causes whilst making no genuine effort to reduce their carbon emissions. This highlights that the concern for the environment has been corrupted by corporations, who are now exploiting it for profit, without actually changing their ways.

Humans are self-interested beings

One of the most common arguments against environmentalism is that humans are essentially self-interested creatures who only care about themselves. This may be true, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t care about the environment. It simply means that people only care about the environment to the extent that it directly impacts them. 

Perito Moreno Glacier
If people were told they couldn’t visit this phenomenal view unless they reduce their carbon emissions they’d think twice…

This is a natural human trait, and one that is impossible to avoid. People only care about environmental issues to the extent that they directly impact them. For example, many people don’t care about the chopping down of rainforests because they don’t realise that it impacts them.

However, when people are made aware of the effects deforestation has on their lives, they are much more inclined to care about the environment.

We value short term gains over long term costs

Another one of the most common arguments against environmentalism is that people care more about immediate benefits than long term costs. This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that people don’t care about the environment.

It simply means that people are only concerned with immediate benefits, rather than long term costs. This is a natural human trait, and one that is impossible to avoid. When we make decisions, we are weighing up the pros and cons of each option. 

This means that we are always considering both the short term and long term costs of our choices. Unfortunately, we are often drawn to the option that offers us the most immediate benefits, even if it comes at a significant long term cost. For example, many people have chosen to rely on fossil fuels because they offer the most short term benefits. Unfortunately, these short term benefits come at a significant long term cost.

What it boils down to

Climate change and other environmental issues are now impossible to ignore. These are problems that will affect everyone, whether you live in a developed country or an emerging economy.

The more we invest in renewable energy and sustainable resources, the better it will be for everyone. The key is to get everyone involved, so that we can make the necessary changes that will ensure a better future.

Whilst there is widespread and genuine concern for the environment (and kudos to you readers if you are too!), there is certainly more work to be done to spread awareness.

While there is no doubt that most people would prefer to live in a cleaner and more sustainable world, it could be argued that this sudden interest in the environment is more about optics than genuine concern for preserving our home planet.

Omar Agor-Wood
Omar Agor-Wood

Omar is a digital marketer by day for one of the UK's largest environmental consultancy companies, and is writing like the world depends on it for Pick Ethical at night. He has a passion for hiking, bouldering, and making a fuss of his dog.


  1. There has been a lot of progress in climate solutions. Tons of action. We need to give ourselves credit. Will we go above 2C still? Yes. But at least we did something and slowed it down. Changing humanity is what it will take and many many decades to create a better society for a healthier planet.

  2. Dear Omar, I appreciated your opinion piece. Here’s the two cents of an old woman. One reason environmental issues lack urgency is the media and activist fixation on climate change. Not all environmental issues start with climate change, which itself is a consequence, not a cause, of pollution. Climate change is too vast a topic for ordinary folks to wrap their heads around, let alone feel like they can do something about. When big-wigs gather in Dubai to address CO2 emissions, it’s easy to turn to the next page in the newspaper. Or when reading alarming news about some obscure endangered species far away. These approaches have not triggered changes in personal behavior, which is essential to a cultural shift in how we learn to love nature and adopt a stewardship stance toward the environment. Climate change is not the narrative that will unify people, even if it is urgent. Loving one’s country is, however. The anti-garbage campaign in the U.S. in the 1960’s with the (faux) Native American with a tear rolling down his cheek when someone threw garbage at his feet taught a generation of kids not to be litterbugs. Now, we have new generations that were not subjected to this effective, personal propaganda, and littering has returned en masse. What if we engaged people by having them see a personal stake in the environment, as a patriotic act? For example, most Americans are obese and/or overweight. They sit in traffic during frustrating commutes and scarcely move during sedentary jobs and in car-dependent suburbs. They play video games where they are rewarded for driving polluting vehicles (and committing theft and murder). Perhaps the time has come to mount a campaign of LOVING the outdoors, right here, right now, not by focusing on polar bears and ice melts, but by a singular focus on native gardens, bike paths and greenways. London and many Dutch cities are leaders . In turn, this shift to the constructive in environmental messaging might lead to changes in infrastructure, rather than more EV vehicles on congested road and a continued disconnect to nature. Thank you for reading.

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