Stop the narrative that climate change is caused by you & me

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Personal accountability for the climate crisis isn’t just irrelevant; it was designed and implemented by the world’s biggest polluters. If we want to save our planet, we need to stop blaming everyday people for the declining environment and start holding the real culprit responsible: the fossil fuel industry.

Thanks to brilliant marketing schemes over the past several decades, blaming ourselves and our neighbours for the doom of environmental destruction has become a cultural norm. The image of litterbugs tossing plastic bags out of car windows is the face of the earth’s environmental crisis and has been ingrained in us for the past five decades.

Energy used to blame average citizens would be better spent taking concrete action and holding the world’s top polluters accountable for their actions. 

British Petroleum is one such polluter that has infiltrated our thinking and speech surrounding climate change with their expert marketing campaigns. The company successfully popularized the term “carbon footprint” in 2004, promoting their “carbon footprint calculator” online so individuals could assess how responsible their daily lives were for the climate crisis. 

A huge success, the marketing campaign shifted the responsibility of fossil fuel emissions away from large corporations themselves and onto the individual.

But individual environmental accountability alone won’t end climate change as long as the world’s top polluters continue their actions.

While a hundred companies slyly produce 71 per cent of the world’s pollution each year, average citizens have no choice but to survive by living in homes largely powered by coal and gas-generated electricity and commuting to work in gas-powered cars. 

While it’s vitally important to assume personal responsibility in creating a better world for all, climate action must be reformed from the top down.

Calculating schoolchildren’s carbon footprints and buying ‘green’ products on Amazon does nothing more than promote psychologically manipulative propaganda. Members of the public have been deceived and distracted from channeling efforts into the climate action that matters: advocating for government change and accountability. A vote for green energy will do more to save the planet than any attempts to reduce one’s singular footprint ever could. 

Litterbugs will be eradicated once all single-use plastics are federally banned. Individual carbon footprints will be legitimate once renewable energy powers our cities. Meaningful climate action will be an accessibly attainable goal once we clear the air of maliciously confusing tactics created by the fossil fuel industry and start holding them responsible.

Lauren Thomas is a third-year Film and Media major and The Journal’s Video Editor.

 

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