Things that improve our standard of living can easily conflict with environmental values. This is largely because so many of the things that we think will improve our standard of living require the use of resources.
For example, many Americans think that it would be nicer to have a really big TV set. But the problem is that a larger set, of course, uses more energy. In this case, you have the desire for a better standard of living clashing with the environmental concern of losing less energy. The same thing goes at a larger scale to having a larger home. Americans have much larger homes than ever before. This means that we use much more energy in heating and cooling and lighting our homes.
In these ways, our desire for a higher standard of living conflicts with our desire to use less energy.
Environmental concerns could cause a conflict with a person’s desire for a better standard of living. Environmental protections generally add some cost to the manufacturing of a product or the running of a business. These costs may be passed on to the consumer. If people are spending more for products, they may have less money to save for other things. If a business incurs more expenses, it may make less profit. Both of these scenarios could impact a person’s standard of living. Certainly, people want to be environmentally responsible, but there is a cost associated with that concern.
Environmental concerns could make it harder to create or to keep jobs. If a company would have too many increased costs, it might decide not to move forward and make the product in our country or to make the product at all. Instead, the company might move production to other countries where there are fewer environmental restrictions. This could lead to higher unemployment in our country or to people having to accept lower paying jobs if good paying jobs are lost when a company moves production out of the country.
Many people like to drive big, fancy, powerful cars. However, these cars are often energy inefficient. As a result, a person has to decide if he or she would want a car that uses a lot of gasoline, which is harmful to our environment.