Opinions & Blogs

Extinction Rebellion Have Highlighted the Issue, When Will the Elite Listen?

With the Extinction Rebellion protests gaining a fair share of press, I thought it would be a good time to look at who is to blame for the state of the global climate. And what we can do to solve the issue. As general consumers we are constantly being told we need to use less energy, stop using single use plastic, cycle instead of driving to work. Let’s ask ourselves one thing: what are the world’s elite doing to aid the issue?

While the average person is doing all they possibly can to lower their carbon footprint, the CEOs etc of multinational companies are flying to meetings on a daily basis; Militaries are dropping and testing bombs while flying jets at mach 1 and above; Supermarkets are actively wrapping fresh produce in plastic; Government officials are driving around in limousines; Celebrities are transporting tonnes of equipment around the world.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on an endless rant as to how much of an affect society’s least mentioned culprits are having on the climate. While the ULEZ charge prevents you or I from driving a 2008 1.6 Ford Fiesta into central London Donald Trump is planning a ‘state visit’ to the UK from the USA, Theresa May will be escorted around in a limo with a convoy of escorts, and millions of business people are flying around the world for meetings which could be had on Skype or Zoom.

With all the above in consideration it really begins to seem as though the average consumer is not being tasked with lowering the carbon footprint of mankind, we are being tasked with offsetting the carbon footprint of the world’s elite.

It’s All About Responsibility

A popular phrase which most people will be aware of is “lead by example”, but it feels as though this only applies to those who are (for want of a better phrase) at the bottom of the financial totem pole. We’re in a world where footballers drive around in highly polluting sports cars and take weekly flights in order to kick a ball to each other. Yet the carbon footprint of the world’s most popular sport is never mentioned.

Nor is the carbon footprint of making a high budget film ever mentioned. I personally have worked on a couple films you will have seen, I wont name them. I can tell you first hand they are not considering their carbon output in the slightest. One film in particular saw 7 super grand pianos flown from multiple continents to the UK to be used as… PROPS! Yes, props! This means there was no need to use the actual pianos as it was only used for aesthetic purposes and could have been replaced with a fake shell made in house. What is more, that same film, saw the same 7 pianos being transported from Hounslow (in a full 40+ tonne lorry) past Heathrow airport, to Windsor, to then be collected by another 4 full sized lorries and taken back to Heathrow. All this, for what? A film.

From my time working in the entertainment industry I can list a number of examples, such as the one above, where celebrities are needlessly polluting our planet for a trivial matter. I have literally seen an arctic lorry being used to drive 240 miles (round trip) in order to transport a package which could have been delivered on a motorcycle. Again, the reason? Showbiz.

But showbiz and sports are not the only culprit.

Let’s Talk About Supermarkets

I want to start this paragraph by stating I am not vegan or vegetarian – I eat meat on average about twice a month and use long life milk (which comes in a carton) – and I do not think going full nuclear on either side is the solution. I think the solution is, as you probably know, responsibility.

We’ve all been to supermarkets which have wall to wall isles of fresh produce wrapped in plastic, as well as more meat and dairy than could ever be consumed before it goes out of date. Why do they have so much produce? Profits. The simple fact of the matter is the meat and dairy industries both output products with extremely short shelf lives and, instead of risking not having a product available to sell, big chain supermarkets would prefer to simply throw a tonne of inedible produce away than miss out on sales targets. This needs to be one of the first things to change. Nobody in their right mind needs to eat as much meat as what is stocked in the average western supermarket.

Stop Wrapping Fruit n Veg in Plastic

Again, I have to ask: when did you ever ask for your cucumber to be vacuum packed in plastic? I know I never did, but it is the norm in the UK. Why? Longer shelf life. When did you ask for your spuds to be separated into 1kg plastic bags? When did you ask the same for pretty much all fruit and veg? You didn’t, nor did I. And this is where the problem is.

The sad fact of the matter is many people in the UK simply cannot afford to have a choice in where they shop, they have to go to the cheapest shop they can get to. The same problem exists when considering what they are buying and it is not limited to the UK. It is all well and good telling people to go to the likes of Planet Organic et al but their prices are so high that it isn’t even a real consideration for most people who are paying up to 90% of their monthly income on rent.

Tax Those Who Can Afford to Pay It

While I am aware that a single blog post is not going to solve all the world’s issues regarding single use plastic, I believe a solution to start tackling this issue is a simple one: tax wastage. If the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys etc were being actively taxed on their waste they would think twice about the amount of produce they supply and this would have a knock-on effect which runs right down to the farmer.

If they were also taxed further on the amount of single use plastic they are using this would also have a huge impact on their mentality. The sad fact of the matter is this probably wont happen as governments are so corrupt they simply do not care enough to risk losing financial backing from said supermarkets. The mentality of our governments is highlighted by plastic bag situation in the UK: the consumer has to pay 10p per bag they use. Instead of continuing the plastic bag trend they could easily do what India are doing: give cotton bags. They could do what they used to do, before plastic came around: give paper bags. But why would they can charge the consumer?

As with everything in life there isn’t a one-fix-all solution and it is going to take a huge effort from EVERYONE in the world to save the human race – the planet will continue without us, after climate change wipes us all out – and the focus needs to be put on the people in this world which are, objectively, causing the most damage. The irony is they are also the group of people with the power and finances to actually do something about it. Go figure.

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