Your Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter
So, you want to live a more sustainable life. You aspire to lower your impact on our environment, shrink your carbon footprint, recycle, and generally live adhering to strict green values. But, what if I told you that your efforts are pointless? The concept of a carbon footprint comes from the twisted, depraved minds of marketing agencies. Our individual, and even our collected efforts, do not make a noticeable impact.
If you have built up a certain regiment or made certain sacrifices then you will no doubt be hesitant to abandon all of it. Even after a slight refutation of your principles, you will surely need some explanation. Let us examine the history then, in hopes of uncovering the truth.
The Boot That Left the Print
In 2004, a marketing agency working for British Petroleum (BP), Ogilvy & Mather, ran a series of ad campaigns spreading awareness for how an individual's every action impacted the environment. When you drive to work, shop for groceries, or take a flight to Aruba, you are producing carbon. The ads let you know that all these actions push more carbon into the atmosphere and thus slowly poison the planet, you horrible, dirty creature. Today, you can find thousands upon thousands of articles written by a myriad of different blog sites informing you on how to reduce your carbon footprint. You can ride a bike, take cold showers, or live on a strict lentil and cricket diet. There is no sacrifice big enough for the lessening of your burden on the planet.
However, does it not seem a little strange that BP, one of the largest supplies of crude oil, a company that, alone, is responsible for 1.53% of all industrial greenhouse emissions, is the one talking about living greener? You would figure that if we are leaving footprints, BP, and all the corporations like it, are leaving craters. It should be clear to anyone that the only thing their ads, calculators, and rhetoric is doing is trying to distract us from their own much more destructive practices. BP has changed the way we think about pollution. The company has reframed the matter to be a personal one that the individual must fix through a lifestyle change. BP is asking us to remove the splinters from our eyes while it has an entire forest of freshly chopped trees lodged into its own.
Are You Helping?
Some might be operating under the belief that even though the carbon footprint’s origins are unsavory, it is still worth being aware of. You may be thinking that recycling, switching to electric cars, and turning the sink off when you brush your teeth are all little efforts that add up. Moreover, you would be right; they do. What they add up to is a number so infinitesimal, that it might as well not exist.
Your efforts are a drop in the ocean. Of course, the ocean is but a billion little drops. Therefore, if we all cut back, that would surely make a difference. If somehow, we all decided to stay home and not travel, then that would reduce carbon emissions by a significant amount. If only we could test that theory.
One of the impacts of the pandemic was the largest reduction in carbon emissions ever recorded. The International Energy Agency estimated the reduction to be nearly eight percent. This came after the enormously high rates from 2019. This is more or less a good thing. The only problem is that it does not change anything and will not matter at all. The saturation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was not affected by the huge reduction. Saturation levels continue to rise despite our switch to plastic straws and carpooling. Even with extreme circumstances, the numbers still go up. Under the reign of COVID-19, we pump out the same amount of carbon dioxide as we did in 2010. This equates to around 30 gigatonnes of CO2, for one year.
What Needs to Change
What is the biggest emitter of CO2? Transportation. Anything that uses gas or petroleum-based fuels. Shipping products, transporting cargo, driving, and flying all spit out fumes that lead up towards the clouds. We can’t stop traveling. However, we can start looking at better fuel sources. This does not mean electric. Electric still results in serious fumes spurting out. Electric is also the second leading contributor towards greenhouse gas emission. One of the best and cleanest sources of power is nuclear energy. This has a certain stigma sounding it, which has led to its underutilization. Currently, it is the brightest path to follow if we want to live greener.
Take it Easy
Individual efforts do nothing to stop the rising rates of greenhouse gasses in the environment. The carbon footprint is a ploy invented by marketers to distract us from the fact that mega corporations disobeying regulations have far greater of an impact than any of our daily habits. The individual is not responsible for stopping climate change. The individual is responsible for voting for politicians and supporting businesses that take the initiative to find green alternatives. Check out our paper straw blog and our green label denouncing blog for more information regarding green misconceptions. What you can do is stay informed about the various myths and half-truths regarding eco-friendliness.