This Earth Day, I urge everyone to remember that the entire concept of a personal carbon footprint was popularized in a 2005 media campaign costing over $100 million. That campaign, research has indicated, deflected responsibility for climate change away from corporations and onto individual consumers. This was effective and many people believe that individual action alone might be able to stop climate change.
Every Earth Day, the media asks me for interviews about things people can do. Every year I start out with “We can’t recycle our way out of the climate crisis, we need massive change on a corporate level brought about by massive change on a political level.” The reporters then inevitably tell me “We are really looking for a story on how to compost today, or other small things people can do around their homes.” This year I avoided those media interviews. I am deliberately choosing to spend today reminding people that we have run out of time for “business as usual”. We need politicians elected who are interested in saving our planet, as a guiding motivation for being a politician.
I am urging everyone this Earth Day, to think of this day like January 1st. A day to become resolved to spend the next year until April 22nd, working towards meaningfully affecting changes that will hold our planet to 1.5 degrees. We need to focus on not just lobbying those in government and those elected into opposition to legislate for the environment. We need to actively ensure we are electing environmentalists. That’s right, this Earth Day, I’m making it political. I’m writing this message because the state of our planet is so urgent that we’ve run out of time for half-measures and empty promises.
The urgency of IPCC’s new warning could not be clearer. If we have any hope of holding to 1.5 degrees C or even staying below 2 degrees at all – global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) must hit its all-time high – called “peaking” – no later than 2025. From there, emissions must drop quite rapidly to roughly half of the 2010 levels by 2030. Net Zero by 2050 is wholly irrelevant if we miss peaking by 2025 and dropping in half by 2030.
We already have all the technology needed to stop and reverse climate change. We just need different elected politicians. Today and every day needs to be Earth Day.
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