Why You Are Not Responsible For Climate Change
I know what you’re thinking. “Of course humans are responsible! CO2 emissions! Greenhouse Gases!” Of course, you are right. In this article, I’m not going to try to convince you that humans are not to blame for the destruction of our planet. But I am going to try to convince you that it isn’t you or I who are killing her. Because as much as we could toss out our plastic straws, recycle our cardboard, and cycle to work rather than drive, none of these things are going to make a big enough impact to preserve the Earth. Not while billionaires, the world’s 1%, are out there overwhelming all the good we could do, all the changes we could make, by a factor of 50.
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The Billionaire Problem
We are being told time and again, by the media, by our primary school teachers, that we need to use less paper; take a shower rather than a bath (which, considering I know people who take 45 minute showers, I’ve never been able to see the logic behind), and all do our part to save the planet. But if you take the time to look into the biggest contributors to climate change, this all seems ridiculous and, frankly, a bit pointless.
Each time Jeff Bezos decides to take a trip in his fancy private jet, it burns enough fossil fuel to run a small town. Betsy Devos and her family own 10 boats, 4 aeroplanes, and 2 helicopters. And how eco-friendly do you think they are? That woman is just an education secretary, and her and her husband’s combined net worth is estimated at $5.1 billion.
An article in the Guardian written by George Monbiot said it best; “…when Google convened a meeting of the rich and famous at the Verdura resort in Sicily in July to discuss climate breakdown, its delegates arrived in 114 private jets and a fleet of mega yachts, and drove around the island in supercars. Even when they mean well, the ultra-rich cannot help trashing the living world.”
The super-rich have also brought fracking back into style. Fracking is the process of extracting oil and gas from rocks deep in the ground with water, sand, and chemicals. It is also disgustingly bad in pretty much every way conceivable.
Fracking uses chemicals that can be damaging to the air and water, such as benzene. Benzene can also escape into the air once released from the rock, which is, as you may have guessed, quite bad for air pollution. Methane can also escape from the rock, which is a particularly potent greenhouse gas. The chemicals used in fracking can pollute people’s drinking water, too. There are obviously other issues with it as well, but this isn’t meant to be a lesson in fracking, suffice to say it is not a good thing to be doing.
Now, fracking has actually been around for quite a while; the first instance was used in 1949. However, in the mid-2000s it saw a boom when – you guessed it – Americans figured out they could extract oil from the Earth on the cheap by using drills. This has created jobs, benefitted the economy, and all those other things bad people use as an excuse to do bad things. If massive companies are going to be digging into the ground and releasing harmful gases into the air and water for fun, what’s the comparison in using a paper straw for your Fanta?
Preventing Our Demise
After a quick google (another company whose CEO is a despicable monster), it seems most estimates for simply preventing mass extinction – which should really be like the absolute lowest bar to be aiming for – are around $100 billion per year. Now, Jeff Bezos’ net worth at my time of writing is currently $175 billion. He is not the only billionaire in the world, but he alone could take care of the cost for at least the first year.
A lot of people insist that net worth isn’t the same as how much money a person has, and they’d be right. Net worth is (roughly speaking) the amount a person would have if they sold all of their assets and possessions. So Bezos could sell, like, half of his garbage – I mean seriously, who actually needs a private jet, the man does nothing – and still be worth over $75 billion. Which I think is probably enough for him to still not have to skip any of his meals. Not to mention if you crunch the numbers, he’s said to earn about $321 million every day.
This man is practically a war criminal, considering his staff earn minimum wage in terrible working conditions and get told when they’re allowed to take a toilet break like a toddler in nursery. And the cherry on top, he pays practically nothing in taxes! If every billionaire in the world paid the same in taxes as the general population does (proportionately speaking), we’d have more than enough to fix the climate crisis. Instead, it was reported that Amazon paid 1.2% in taxes last year. And if that was the number that was actually reported, let’s face it, it probably means the real number was lower.
As well as actively destroying the planet, billionaires such as the Koch brothers are trying to convince people that the crisis doesn’t even exist, which makes sense considering Koch Industries reportedly has a carbon footprint of around 300 million tons. Of course they don’t want people to think climate change is real, they alone are probably responsible for half of it.
So What Have We Learnt?
So, instead of paying what they owe and doing their bit to save literally everything on Earth, lunatics like Elon Musk are just planning on making Mars habitable so that he and his wife “Grimes” and their child “series-of-letters-and-numbers” can take off once they’ve suitably obliterated Earth enough that you and I will spontaneously combust at the drop of a hat. If this doesn’t make you absolutely furious, it really, really should. The same people who are single-handedly causing the breakdown of Earth are the same people – the only people – who are in a position to actually fix it, andprobably the only people who will make it out of the situation alive.
Written by Humanities Editor: Jess Sharples