A short summary of the outcome of our last 200 years of industry; human activity is warming up the planet, and that’s bad for everything on it. Critics and psychopaths exempt, it’s a widely accepted fact, except by an orange troll in the driving seat of the 4th largest country. The next chapter of the story is that radical solutions are needed to prevent food shortages, destructive weather patterns and having to build Atlantis style underwater colonies.
Of all the dramatic solutions required, what I don’t believe is the answer to the imminent destruction of all earthly life is the handy online listicles telling you how to reduce your personal carbon footprint in 8 easy steps.
These self-righteous, self-aggrandising how-to guides on minimising your impact focus on the small impact of households rather than the huge carbon emitting conglomerates that extract, deforest and discard tonnes of natural resources daily.
How dare you take advantage of the luxuries our modern lives allow us? If you give a shit about the planet like you pretend to, you better start running a 2-minute timer with your shower. A bath? Why don’t you just take a fossil fuel excreting flight to the Arctic and drown a polar bear yourself? If you own a car, it’s equivalent to setting fire to a forest and dancing around it chanting ‘Trump!’ as you piss in a remote villages only clean source of water.
Alternatively, industries manage to avoid the conversation entirely. While you furiously peddle to work in the damp precipitation of the Great British summer, Evian extrudes tonnes of non-degradable, carbon-emitting crude oil for plastic bottles. While you sit in your own stink refusing to flush ‘liquids’, Velvet deforest swathes of the rainforest so you can wipe your arse comfortably.
The most brazen part of these companies destructive activities is that they appoint a friendly Corporate Social Responsibility team to say nice things about the company and add a little ‘Sustainability & Us’ story at the bottom of their website. They’re the ones that run hobby projects that make proud statements on the front page of their dedication to the planet, like Coca Colas collaboration with Will.I.Am to make outerwear and accessories range from recycling their iconic plastic bottles called ‘EKOCYCLE’, whose products contain 33% post-consumer waste and retail in Harrods at £1415 for a backpack. These schemes perpetuate the narrative that ‘it’s not us!’ from multinational businesses with shares in oil extrusion companies, so it must be you and those selfish 10-minute showers.
What’s worse is that government initiatives are abundant with these apathetic guides, once again laying blame at the feet of the public, while companies are encouraged with little incentives rather than sanctions against their crimes to nature.
Of course, living a life that’s more consciously aware of the resources we’re using is important, maybe just in the way that it stops us running on autopilot. But I’m cynical of the ‘vote with your feet’ argument when almost all products available to us in the supermarket are created by companies who put profit well above the planet in their MO.
Government-led penalties against companies that run in counter with the safety of the environment, and ourselves, is the only way to impact on profits that will drive businesses to find alternative ways of operating. That, in turn, will lower our chances an Atlantis-esque future, not your 2-minute shower limit.