Let’s say that you become energy conscious. Or, rather, energy sustainable. In doing, you strive to reduce your energy consumption. Electrical power comes from local, renewable resources. Batteries keep energy ever present. You become a vegetarian and obtain all your food from local providers. Your home could be classified as tiny. Inside it, consumer durables are mostly absent. Such actions showcase you as a very energy conscious person.
How much benefit do these actions give to other life on this planet? Less oil consumption means more stays in the ground. And, if you stop eating meat at every meal, then there would be fewer domestic animals and thus more land for wildlife. Such feedback makes being energy conscious worthwhile.
The error in this is in believing that others will continue to consume the same amount as you decrease your consumption. Without feedback or a social prerogative, people continue on their journey of excess consumption. Only by convincing the vast majority of people to be energy conscious will consumption patterns change. If enough change then other living beings benefit. Can you think of a global method to begin this change? Some have suggested a global carbon tax. Or, do you think our children’s future will be better if we continue our instinctive goal to maximize personal consumption?