Andrew Sullivan alerted his readers to a new study whose results should come as no surprise to readers of this blog. The study came from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was picked up by grist.org. Here is how grist.org described the study:
With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school lightbulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb (CFL) . . . . Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use, but without a translation of that into climate pros and cons. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL’s packaging that says “Protect the Environment,” and “we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option,” said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Sullivan attributes this effect to “tribal nihilism.” Maybe for conservatives. But what about the moderates? Why did they run away from the efficient bulbs? Because of Romans 5:20: “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.” As everyone knows, when you are told to do something, your first reaction is not compliance but rebellion. So, moderates are perfectly happy to buy efficient bulbs. But, when they are commanded to buy efficient bulbs—“Protect the Environment”—their first reaction is to do the opposite.
Ah, you say, but what about the liberals? Why don’t they rebel at the command? Because the desire to buy efficient bulbs is already written on their hearts. They were going to do it anyway, so the law has no effect on them. Their love of the environment is the end of the law of environmentalism.