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Women and Cars: The Psychology of Global Warming

Published Jan 14th 2008, 5:39pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles


Here is an entertaining New Year resolution that we women could adopt to help fight climate change. What’s more, it seems like it will makes for a lively conversation topic with girlfriends!

Recently, Britain’s top government scientist, Professor Sir David King of Cambridge University, was quoted as saying that if women stop admiring guys with fast and sexy cars, the world could be a greener place. An advocate for individuals to assume more personal responsibilities in fighting climate change, he was asked at a lecture by a young woman what she could do. His advice? “Stop admiring young men in Ferrari's.” Instead, admire people who conserve energy.

What an interesting take. Although a bit flippant, he does have a point. Our mindset determines the kind of world we live in. It is all in the attitude.

Personally, I too am an advocate for individuals being more aware of the impact of their personal actions on the environment. That was the reason I originally started writing my blog. Little decisions that we make regarding our choices in daily life can make a huge difference, even if the benefits are not readily apparent. After embarking on my personal journey for making changes in my personal life to be more sustainable, I found that every little action became a little seed that further opened my eye to more possibilities in the world. I kept learning about the world, which is fun, and renew the sense of awe that I had lost after childhood.

Mother Theresa once said, “Don’t wait for leaders. Do it individually, one person at a time." Personally, I made some small changes that added up to a lot, in the end. It started with being conscious of my car usage and writing a blog about the topic (which happily got me a gig writing for AskPatty). I have learned so much about alternative cars and fuels. Then I converted to solar power (thanks to my fiances' persistence), requested a worm bin for composting as Christmas gift, and enrolled in a sustainable MBA program so I could be in jobs that make a difference. Each step made me feel good, and each step was a learning experience. This Christmas, I gave green services as presents (e.g., instead of goods, after watching the short movie “The Story of Stuff”. So Professor King’s suggestion was exciting to me, because unlike my green adventure so far which was mainly stuff-related, he is suggesting some psychology to go with it.

Obviously, Professor King’s quote angered Ferrari owners and sports car racers, which is understandable. But the fact remains -- those fast cars have really low mileage. That means more fossil fuel used, which is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas. (Click on the graph below for the breakdown.) However, if electric sports car, such as the Tesla Roadster are more widely used – I think Professor King will approve of women admiring such race car drivers. :-) Well, really there is nothing wrong with liking the look of muscle cars. In fact, I admire the look of the Lotus and Lamborghini very much. However, there is no waay I will let my vanity contribute to climate change. I strongly agree with the professor that we all have levers. Similar to the concept of voting with our purses, we can vote for goodness in the world with our heart. He said: admire guys who are into a sustainable lifestyle. I like that. We women are known to be emotional, so why not let our emotions help fight climate change?

Interestingly, the article also mentioned that although 77% of the population in U.S. believe in climate change, only 40% believe that it is due to human activities. However, if you look at the EPA figure below, the chart clearly shows that human-related activities, especially transportation and electricity contribute the most to greenhouse gases. Now, even if you think that the professor’s comment is a little chauvinistic, don’t you think he has a point?

Pie Chart: This graph clearly shows the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emission, from human activities.



Extrazoom Marn-Yee Lee
Contributing Editor

Marn-Yee Lee is pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. After spending a decade in I.T. and on Wall Street, she is now pursuing her passion for the environment. She sees business as a partner for creating innovative solutions to pressing environmental issues. In her spare time, she writes a blog to inspire others to consider the impact of their daily lives on the environment at


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