As I’ve explained enough times, my knowledge of the science side of climate change is basic at best, but I feel I have a decent enough knowledge of the social side of it, especially given that a lot of people seem to be missing certain things that I would have thought were too obvious to bother pointing out.
The point of what I’m going to tell you today also applies across the board in terms of problems that humanity and society face, but as climate change seems to be one of the most urgent and the one that thanks to the Brazilian government burning through the Amazon like there’s no tomorrow is the one at the forefront of most of your minds right now, that’s what I’m going to go with. For longer than I’ve been alive, the “responsibility of the individual” has been promoted as a thing that exists. You had to be seen to be “doing your bit”, making your sacrifice in one way or another.
However, looking at large global problems in this way makes no sense to me. You see, talking about individual responsibility is fine if every individual carries the same responsibility. We know, however, that that is not true, and I am tired of people pretending that it is. Maybe it’s the patronising tone that the messages from climate activists are frequently delivered in, or the fact that I know that I as an individual can make no difference whatsoever to the climate of the planet, but at this point I find it unacceptable.
Let’s take a look at a few facts. Six out of the ten largest corporations on the planet are oil and gas companies. Royal Dutch Shell, who placed #3 on the list, made $396,556,000,000 in revenue last year, $23,552,000,000 was pure profit. It’s chairman is a man named Chris O. Holliday who’s salary is over $10,000,000 each year. Can anyone seriously tell me that my personal responsibility is equal to a man who gets paid an eight figure salary every year to run a company that makes hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue drilling for and burning fossil fuels? Of course not. Just to add, too, Royal Dutch Shell isn’t even the biggest oil corporation.
the only way to fight climate change is to fight the system
It’s not just oil and gas companies, either. Large corporations of all types, and the millionaires and billionaires who run them, do much more harm to the environment than I could ever counterbalance, notwithstanding the money they all spend setting the news agenda and financing politicians who support them.
With the world as it is now, it is the richest and the most powerful who have the ability to actually do something about climate change. Coincidentally, it is the same rich and powerful who are doing nothing about it. Apparently the irony of people telling me to stop using plastic straws while ignoring people on the board of Walmart using private jets is lost on a lot of people.
For those of you now itching to tell me that I could not buy things from big corporations and boycott environmentally harmful ones, I’d like you to tell me how. When I turn a light on in my house I can’t decide what it’s powered by, and when I buy drinking water I have to take the plastic bottle that it comes in too, among other things. With society as it is right now we are trapped into the system, and therefore the only way to fight climate change is to change that system.
The richest and most powerful have been hoarding all the wealth
If you’re serious about fighting climate change, as your Instagram story suggested last week, you have to see it for what it is: a class struggle. I’m not usually one to get all radical-leftist sounding when writing here, especially given the rabbit holes that the modern left seems to so frequently find itself falling down, but if my honest opinion sounds radically leftist on this occasion then so be it.
It’s accepted as fact that climate change has created a coming disaster for humanity, which as disasters do will hit the poorest hardest. It is also accepted that something can be done about it, and that as things stand it is still very much an avoidable disaster. However, rather than bothering to help out, the richest and most powerful people on this planet have instead been hoarding all the wealth, at the expense of everyone else, and at the expense of the environment.
For a generation, scientists have been warning of climate change yet the richest and the most powerful have been either denying its existence or carrying on regardless anyway. The rest of us have been patronised into making small changes in their lives as if their personal plastic bag usage or drinking with plastic straws was the difference between climate change happening and not.
with resources in private ownership, the priority of those exploiting them is profit
I am tired of this attitude, however. If the average person really wants to halt and reverse climate change, paper straws and reusable bags won’t cut it. Even becoming vegan isn’t going to make a big enough dent in the global levels of pollution that are causing this problem. If we really want to halt climate change, we have to dismantle the structures that have allowed it to happen.
Let me explain; the current state of society, with resources in private ownership, creates a system where the priority of those exploiting the resources is profit rather than sustainability. For as long as society is allowed to continue in this way, large corporations will be able to do more damage to the environment than any amount of paper straws could possibly offset. If the rest of society therefore is willing to do something about climate change it must attack the structures that have allowed it to perpetuate.
In essence, climate change is making people rich, and that is what needs to stop. If the general population of this planet really is concerned about climate change it must organise itself to dismantle the structures that have allowed large and ecologically unsustainable corporations to exist, and of course the corporations themselves. The profit motive must be taken away from those in control of natural resources, in order to make sustainability the main priority, and in addition public ownership of such things would make them more accountable, if the population were well informed enough.
corporations need to be dismantled and the structures around them do too
As unlikely as it seems the general population must remember that the richest few who are causing and perpetuating this problem are few in number. If the general population were to organise itself and fight for a common cause (i.e. the sustainability of the planet) it would not be as impossible as it may seem at first glance.
In summary, if the general population is serious about fighting climate change it needs to make moves against the richest few who are for the most part causing it. Corporations need to be dismantled and the structures around them do too. Obscene profits need to become a thing of the past as we look for sustainability in order to survive, otherwise we may well not survive.