Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

dclxvi616 t1_jd4yxqk wrote

Realistically, how much does the average Joe really contribute to climate change such that it could be perceived as appropriate to focus on, "personal efforts to combat climate change," when there exist things like corporate efforts, industrial efforts, governmental efforts, etc.? Why am I the problem?


washingtonpost OP t1_jd53gw2 wrote

Good question but let me reframe it. You’re absolutely right. Any one us don't have an outsize impact on the 36.3 gigatonnes the world emits each year — except perhaps Kim Kardashian and others flying their private jets. But a more useful question is how are you part of a solution. There’s two ways that I can see:

  1. You reuse your own emissions a small, but personal meaningful amount. This has the added benefit of bring your life in line with you personal values (and you may even have more fun)
  2. You’re a walking billboard for how to do things a different way.

I personally think #2 may be the biggest impact you have by shifting norms. Here’s what I wrote in my first column:

"While global problems don’t seem entirely amenable to individual action, that is only part of the story. Human culture and global warming are not linear systems. They are driven by exponential curves, social contagions and threshold effects. They exist at the messy confluence of biology, economics, psychology and physics.

Take solar panels. In 2021, researchers in the journal Nature published a paper studying why people install solar panels on their roofs. Subsidies, geography and policy were all considered. The most powerful factor? Whether a neighbor already had solar panels. There was even a proximity effect. People living within two blocks of homes with panels were the most likely to buy their own. Solar panels, in other words, were contagious. With climate, we must consider social norms as well as policies and incentives."


Other_Exercise t1_jdebvig wrote

To add to this, should we focus more on the small things? It seems people focus too much on stuff that most of us spend very little of our time doing, like air travel, and not things we do lots.


CalClimate t1_jed0bot wrote

More to the point, you're the beta test site. Give feedback on what does and doesn't work. Make stuff work better.


Baldbold192 t1_jd500nu wrote

You might not be the problem, but you certainly have to be part of the solution ;)


bluecat2001 t1_jd8pfkf wrote

Not OP obviously,

Making people responsible for climate change is a clever PR trick.

Most of the collected recyclable materials ends up in landfills or sent / sold to 3rd world countries, where they were dumped, burned or processesed without any environmental considerations.

Mining for rare earth materials, that are necessary for batteries and motors of EVs cause environmental destruction and conflicts, exploitation of poor people.

Textile industry is one of the biggest polluters of waterways and environment in general.

Current Disaster Capitalism and neoliberalism is the problem. And the best thing a person can do is not consuming.


dclxvi616 t1_jd8ta3v wrote

Well of course, that's why my question wasn't really answered, it was "reframed" into a question I hadn't asked. Was also surprised to see him treating solar panels on rooftops as if they're just obviously nothing but a good thing. The Technology Connections guy does a video addressing that topic, but it's from his less polished side channel so anyone interested shouldn't be expecting him to get straight to the point or anything:


bebobbaloola t1_jddyro4 wrote

Exactly, if you tell your neighbor that you don't recycle, they look at you like your weird. Only aluminum, and (in some areas) steel cans have enough value to make economic sense. Even NPR states that only 10 percent of plastic created has ever been recycled.