It’s wrong to hold the individual responsible for climate change
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
There have been few bright spots in this pandemic. People have been housebound and society feels like it is at a standstill. However, that standstill has led to a cleaner world in some ways. Cities like Venice, New Delhi, and Los Angeles have all seen cleaner air from the reduction of cars due to the pandemic. Whether this is solely due to the lockdowns is debated, but the cleaner air will bring up the benefits of reduced car and plane travel—directing the discussion to environmentalism. Will this time of unexpected conservation lead to movements to reduce plane and car travel to combat climate change? Maybe, but it shouldn’t.
When it comes to fighting climate change, many feel that there is no way we can reduce the amount of air and car travel we take. Whether it is due to how interconnected those networks are, or how it stomps on freedom and liberty, there will likely always be a reason for why we can’t eliminate plane travel or force everyone onto public transit. Though, the pandemic has shown us that we can eliminate planes and car travel, and society can still go on. It’s not perfect, but it is manageable. For people looking to keep the status quo, it’s easy to say that reducing plane and car travel is not possible because it would disrupt the system too much. But we have done it now—and as it can be seen, the “sky is falling” doomsday notices are coming from areas other than the lack of car and air travel.
We have been learning to adapt to this change by working from home instead of traveling to an office and not flying on a plane for meetings and using online video chat instead. So now that we have done this, it will be easy to implement those ideas into an overall reduction in car and air travel going forward, right? Possibly, but when the actual results are tabulated, it shows that car and plane travel won’t make much of a dent in the climate crisis.
Because while reducing the carbon emissions through cars and planes brought immediate relief to the air quality of a city, in the long run it won’t make much of a difference. According to a Rolling Stone article, with all of our carbon pinching, we have only managed to reduce the amount of carbon going into the air by a grand total of 5.5 percent. That’s it—5.5 percent. The article also states that even if all of transportation was carbon neutral it would still only reduce the carbon in the atmosphere by 20 percent.
Yes, I believe humans are causing climate change—but the majority of it is not coming from individuals, but instead from private institutions. All the power going into our homes and our electronic devices come from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually not very environmentally friendly.
Some feel that in order to stop climate change we have to
stop looking at it from our own individual point of view. There is an idea that
if we all just don’t travel on planes or drive cars that we will stop climate
change—but that is simply not true, and I believe that idea is more harmful
than anything. If we want to stop climate change, we have to change our big industries
like utilities and construction along with reductions in transportation carbon
emissions. The best way to do that is to lobby the government for changes to
our energy structure, big companies, and industry systems that expels carbon on
a higher level than any individual ever will.