A commenter recently questioned whether the upcoming generations are really apathetic and claimed that I'm in a location where people really don't care, but elsewhere it is growing trend. That could be true, there are signs as you enter Utah that read, "Welcome to Utah, please set your watches back 20 years and 10 minutes". Anyway, I don't doubt that there are differences depending on locale, but I want to take this point a little further.
I want to take speed limits as an example. There is currently a movement by some to reduce the speed limit to 55 mph in order to reduce gas consumption and vehicular emissions. I think it's a great idea, reducing the speed limit may reduce the speed of drivers a little, but it would certainly increase the size of the ticket for the select few who were actually pulled over for exceeding the speed limit.
Here's the thing, it is currently not illegal to drive 55 on highways. I am unaware of studies on the safety of it, but I could see potential hazards. Here's the point that I want to make. We are debating a reduced speed limit when everyone on the road has the option of reducing their speed, saving money and reducing their CO2 output by slowing down. Why do we have to change the law for that to happen? I drive 55 on the highway, I accelerate very slowly and I make sure that I never leave my car idleing. I would guess that I get ~30% better gas mileage than someone who excedes the speed limit, accelerates quickly and spends a lot of time idling in the same car.
I hear people complain about gas prices, but I hear those same people complaining about the 'idiot' who drives the speed limit in the fast lane (suggesting that they are generally exceding the speed limit). I hear almost everyone complaining about gas prices, yet on the corner where I live, almost everyone accelerates quickly, even when there's no traffic coming. I see lines of people waiting in drive thrus, all with their engines idling. When are we going to take personal responsibility for the amount we are paying for gas rather than asking for the government to impose regulations? The pedal on the left is the brake, it is not illegal to use it.
I see similar things with recycling. Sure, recycling is becoming more popular. I think that's great, but do you know what would be better? It would be better if consumers would demand products with less packaging so the stuff that we currently recycle never had to be produced in the first place.
The apathy that I see, may not be apathy, but rather a lack of initiative. Rather than making the environment into a personal matter, we are waiting for the government, or for our place of employment to act. The government and businesses are waiting for it to be financially adventageous. Do you know what makes items with little packaging financially advantageous for the producer? CONSUMERS THAT WON'T BUY STUFF WITH LOTS OF PACKAGING. It's the individual choices that change the world, and upcoming generations (and by that I mean people under 40)aren't taking the initiative to improve the world we are inherritting.