The 99 percent cannot bear the responsibility of fighting climate change

The general population feels some sort of climate guilt, but how much can we actually do to help the environment?
The general population feels some sort of ‘climate guilt,’ but how much can we actually do to help the environment?
Nic Cazin

Everyone has heard about the budding romance between pop star Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. As Swift continues her transformative ‘The Eras Tour’ tour, the footballer has been seen at many of her concerts; likewise, the singer has been spotted at numerous Chiefs games. To show support to their other half, both celebrities have been flying internationally – both on their private jets. Their surprise visits have led Americans to wonder about the climate impacts these trips have had. 

In 2022, Swift was amongst the top celebrities with the largest carbon footprint, releasing over 8,000 metric tons of CO2 between January and August – equivalent to over 1,000 homes’ energy consumption in a year. In the past three months, Swift has taken 170 private flights, using over 12,000 gallons of jet fuel and emitting 138 tons of carbon dioxide. To offset this impact, over 2,000 trees would need to be planted and be left alone for a decade. 

Obviously, the singer is not solely to blame for climate change. Tech company Samsung emits over 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the largest of any company, and China was responsible for 30 percent of carbon emissions in 2022. All of these numbers and statistics have led people to wonder what we as a population can actually do for climate change. The answer? Not a lot. 

All of these numbers and statistics have led people to wonder what we as a population can actually do for climate change. The answer? Not a lot. 

Over the years a lot of blame has been put on us, the general population of the globe. Climate guilt, which is when we feel guilty for not “properly” doing our part to fight climate change, has taken over millions of people, often killing the drive to fight this crisis. If we aren’t using paper straws everytime we go out or we eat meat at every meal, what’s the point of even trying? I mean, we’re already killing the Earth, aren’t we? How am I, a high schooler in the middle of North Carolina, going to actually make an impact?

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to do small things, such as recycle or use reusable coffee cups at Starbucks. After all, if a million people do that, then that is a million less plastic cups being melted down, a million less microplastics being released into our oceans. But, fighting climate change is not solely our responsibility. Celebrities and corporations need to start doing their part as well, taking off the climate guilt that we have and actually start impacting our environment for the better. 

Some large carbon dioxide producers have recognized this. Amazon, for example, has seen a slight decline in carbon emissions since 2019, the year that started to disclose their emissions to the public. While that slight decline needs to be larger, they have been spending millions of dollars on wind and solar farms, as well as taking the pledge of net zero by 2040.

Formula One, the popular British racing sport, has a large emissions number at 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide – mainly from transportation versus the race itself. To combat this, they have also taken the net zero pledge, hoping to hit it by 2030, using things such as sustainable fuel and energy to reach their goal.

These pledges don’t mean a whole lot unless they actually manage to go net zero by their target year, but it’s uplifting to see these corporations taking action to combat their footprint. As I previously mentioned, it’s important to do what we can, such as taking public transportation versus private and supporting local businesses, but it’s also important to remember that we are not solely responsible to fight this crisis. 

So, going into the new year, be a climate activist by raising awareness, calling for legislation and doing small, but important, things. We’re doing our part, it’s time for the corporations and celebrities to do theirs.

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