Climate change, in words, is not great. It’s a really big mess which is more than likely going to be the end of the human race. The tragedy of having about 7.8 billion people on the planet is that really nothing we do matters. So stop trying. There’s literally no point.
In 2018, the UK was provisionally estimated to have produced 449 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. That sounds like a lot considering a Ford Focus weighs 1.5 tonnes. So that’s about 300,000 Ford focuses. If we cut down on transport enough to half the emissions, we would eliminate 13% of the UK’s greenhouse gas output. That sounds like a really hopeful amount. Also in 2018, the United States produced 5.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. Just to keep it on track with the same numbers, that’s 3.6 million Ford focuses. There are only 1.5 million actual Ford focuses in the UK. So even if the UK managed to eliminate all our carbon footprint, go down to 0 Ford Focuses per year, America will still be producing over ten times what we did. Meanwhile, China produced 9.8 billion tonnes of CO2: 6.5 million Ford Focuses. Do you really think you can have any impact when China is not only producing at that rate, but their production is actually going up?
Since 1988, just 100 companies have been the source of 70% of the world’s emissions. Companies like ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Shell, and Saudi Aramco (the national oil company of Saudi Arabia) are producing carbon emissions on a level infinite leagues above what the average person can produce. And yes, we all contribute every time someone buys a bacon sandwich or puts petrol in a car, but we’re also irrevocably committed to a system of capitalism that means breaking out of that system is either difficult or impossible. It’s like when those Extinction Rebellion protestors decided to stand on top of the tube in London or block roads; it doesn’t help, it’s just annoying. In the grand scheme of things, the average person does nothing, the same way the average person’s vote doesn’t matter. We still should do things, but we need to acknowledge that as an individual, we don’t affect things.
I still buy meat which I think is from farms where animals are treated well, and I buy eggs from those little places in the countryside where people claim chickens are massaged every day and given little hats, but that’s more for animal welfare than the expectation of it saving the world. Let’s be honest, veganism is useful for lowering emissions, but not eating bolognese isn’t doing anything when smoke is pouring out of factories faster than a Bugatti Veyron in the Mont Blanc tunnel.
The best hope for the planet, and it’s a bit dark, is that coronavirus wipes out about enough of the population that we go down to a reasonable level of pollution. You know you’re in a dire state when the best recourse is that half the planet dies. Maybe Thanos was right.
At the end of it all, in 20 years, when we stop seeing polar bears and none of us can breathe because of the dust storms and when UEA (and Norfolk) has sunk into the North Sea, it’s not going to be fantastic. However, we should all keep in mind that even if we had wanted to do anything, we couldn’t. None of this can actually be solved, there’s nothing you can do. We’re dead already.