2 know, the carbon-energy-extraction companies couldn't do what they do - make money for drilling, digging, burning - if they weren't enabled by the rest of us. It is the collective action of large numbers of humans, who all seem to jump in with abandon as soon as they are able to (see China and automobile ownership). Many people who do not make direct use of carbon-based energy also contribute - even if they're bicycle-only hipsters in high density urban areas. Our entire world, more or less, is completely dependent on the 19th century energy-revolution. Malthus would have been proven right a century ago had we not had mechanization of agriculture. We would also still be living in a highly static, caste/class based fuedal world as well.

No doubt renewables will be the way everyone goes in the future, but make no doubt we all contribute. Columbian cartels are not to blame for American drug's the other way around.
Given this logic, the CEO of Shell is Captain Sully!

See what it takes to build a new [Shell] hydrogen fuelling station…

Happy April 'Fuels' Day..and that's no joke, just clean air!
Way to minimize the deaths of 150 people, you shithead.
Keeping it klassy as always, Mudede.
@1) "Poor countries may not consume as much in the way of fossil fuels as we do, but not for lack of trying." What does your *assumption* of "lack of trying" have to do with the actual fact that such people do "not consume as much in the way of fossil fuels as we do"? Nothing??? Right, you just feel good if you can attempt to kick dirt at something in some fantasy way. Again, you have no actual point to make.
"How much an average US millionaire emits—and how much more than an average US or Cambodian worker — remains to be counted."

Why bother? There probably isn't that much difference between the carbon emissions of a typical US millionaire and the average American.

Take away the cartoonish idea that they're all flying around in private jets or cruising around in luxury yachts, and what's left? A millionaires luxury car emits about the same as an average car, their home may be bigger and nicer but is also more likely to be energy efficient, etc. Factor in the disparity in numbers (a relatively small number of millionaires versus hundreds of millions of average Americans) and the lifestyles of the rich and famous are very likely of no significant difference to what happens to our planet in terms of climate change.

I'm far more concerned about the impact of tax dodging and other investment schemes by the wealthy than any modest personal impact they might have on carbon emissions. They'd never be making bad drill-baby-drill investments if those weren't artificially profitable due to warped tax and regulatory policy.

I don't think the analogy is far off, actually. From the various reports I've heard, the people on Flight 9525 thought they were being flown to their expected destination--a place they very much wanted to go--right up until the final few moments. In that situation, only a select few people knew what was actually happening until it was far too late.

Similarly, the general populace of the world likely has no idea/can't comprehend what the true consequences of burning the world's fossil fuels will be, and probably won't until things become catastrophic in a very personal way. It's tough to judge what people actually "want" when they don't understand the consequences of their choices.

@2 draws an analogy to drug cartels vs. users, and that brings up the true source of the problem: government policy. The US government (along with any other nation) has the power to regulate/incentivize us off our carbon habit, they're just not.

Our government is acting like the cabin door in Charles' analogy, and the fossil fuel industry's political spending/influence is operating as the lock, deliberately engaged by the pilot.

Climate scientists and concerned citizens are frantically beating on the door.

@7 - Millionaires probably do fly in commercial flights a helluva a lot more than avg.Americans. And they do own and maintain multiple vehicles, some including helicopters, which are very carbon-wasteful for what they deliver. They are more likely to take a private car than the bus, or a bicycle. They will eat in fancy restaurants that cook expensive (energy intensive) meats and serve other things like caviar, or paté de fois gras. They definitely eat more richly, in general. They will buy more gadgets and fancy leather things and crap for their spouses and kids. Generally more energy-consumptive that the rest of us.

But your point about tax dodging and warped economic incentives is well-received.

One addition needed for the Flight 9525 analogy to really match our climate change predicament would be for the flight attendants to have been actively telling the passengers not to worry because there wasn't a "consensus" among the flight crew regarding whether or not they were all going to die a horrible, fiery death in the coming minutes.
@7 @9 hits it on the head. I would put the two largest contributors living as a rich person as (1) flying and (2) heating their house(s). Conservatives loove to rag on Al Gore for both of these, and they are right.
Charles, you'd like Donna Haraway's ideas about this. She says that we should call this era the "Capitalocene" not the "Anthropocene." For much the same reason that you give. Check it out:
The Germanwings plane could have been steered away from disaster, would never have been steered toward disaster in the first place, if the pilot had been able to formulate and believe a different story than the self-destructive (and incidentally other-destructive) one he got stuck on. The self-and-incidentally-other-destructive story we've become stuck on as individuals and as a culture is that nothing is more important than our own immediate vanity and comfort. Advertisers got us to adopt that story, one that is sure to lead to (more) disaster. Just as surely, they could create and sell a story which would lead to brilliant and positive outcomes. How to create and sell such a story is no great secret; advertisers have known for some time now which levers to pull and when. As things are though, people with money pay advertising professionals to tell the stories that originally set and now maintain a course into the side of the mountain. How do we counter that? Dunno. But unless we figure that out, I don’t see that revolution is going to happen.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.