This Friday saw mass demonstrations against climate change across the world. In Berlin, London, Warsaw, New York and many other cosmopolitan first world cities, thousands of people gathered to give a massive sign against global warming. Many participants were school pupils, who, following the example of the now famous Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, skipped school to fight against the supposed indifference of their adult parents.
Going to demonstrations is fine, and caring about the future of the planet Earth is a very fine thing too, but it is even better when demonstrations have a real practical purpose. What do these millions of young idealists hope to achieve?
The largest producers of emissions responsible for global warming are highly developed countries, like the US, and industrialized countries like China. You know the G-20 countries, the group of 20 largest economies in the world? These are exactly the countries responsible for most of the emissions. China alone accounts for almost 30%, the US for 13%, the EU for about 10%.
There is actually a very simple solution to global warming. It would entail a radical and sustainable change in the lifestyle of most of us. Yes, it may seem very radical, but humanity has lived like this for many centuries and guess what, there are still billions of people still enjoying similar life conditions to this day.
Here are a few suggestions on things you could do if you really care about climate change:
- stop heating your house
- next time you see that cheap EasyJet flight to Ibiza that promises you a week of sun and party, forget about it. Stay home
- start petitions for a referendum to ban all air travel, cruise ships, etc etc
- buy only local products
- boycott anything that could have been transported on a container ship
- stop eating beef, stop drinking milk (cattle accounts for 13% of global carbon emissions)
- use as little electricity as possible
- you proudly possess a nice, eco-friendly electric car? Ditch it. Most of our electricity is still produced using fossil fuels
- boycott anything produced in China. Yes, even your smart phone and your computer
- be ready to see prices for everything double and your income reduced (this is an optimistic estimate)
In short: given the current state of imaginable technologies, the sort of “one world globalization” that seems so inevitable and even desirable to many genuinely progressive-minded people is incompatible with a drastic reduction of carbon emissions that are primarily responsible for the first man-made alteration of climatic conditions our planet has known. If you expect life to be about constant improvement of material conditions, if you dream about a global village with people travelling from New York to Singapore in less than a day, if you cannot renounce your gadgets (and your bananas) and you think this is what makes our era the best era humanity has ever experienced and that there cannot be any way back, then you must also realise you are one of the many agents of global warming too. The joys of global capitalism and the sorrows of climate change go hand in hand.