A problem with individual action on climate change

While I certainly believe that climate change is a serious problem, and admire individual efforts in mitigating it – I sort of have an issue with alarmist language, and moral imperatives imposed on individuals as opposed to governments or companies.

Why? Because I think pretty much all of the individual action one can do against climate change consist in some sort of denial of life, and is sort of against all of our dreams and aspirations. It's like an anti-American dream. And I think fully adopting such a mentality could be a problem, psychologically.

So to fight against climate change we are asked to do following:

– have less children (this is definitely anti-life stance)

– eat less meat (OK that's not such a big deal but still)

– consume less stuff (well, if people adopted this mentality en masse, this could lead to economic collapse as well)

– spend less money (the same goes)

– consume less energy

– watch less movies on Netflix (yes, even this)

– travel less

etc…

This could all be summed up in two words: live less. Or at least live less intensely.

This might not be such a big problem for people who are already economically well off or who come from very rich countries.

But what about people who are struggling economically, or come from poor countries, who lack some basic stuff and who dream about having MORE of all of these things?

How can they reconcile their economic aspirations (which I deem completely healthy), with what global warming mitigation requires?

For me it's only normal for people to be ambitious… All of us would rather be rich than poor… Your parents would want it for you too. Parents STRUGGLE for years, to help their kids get best education, so that they can move forward in life, get prestigious and well paid jobs, etc…

But then, this all can kind seem like wrong ideals, if we're supposed to consume less, and live on less?

Is it wrong today to have dreams? I mean dreams, in classical American dream sense?

I for one, hope to travel more! To visit more countries, to try more things in life etc…

My main economic aspiration is to IMPROVE my economic situation, not the other way around… and I don't feel guilty for that, as I think such aspiration is only healthy and natural.

But global warming mitigation might tell us that it's better to be poor, so you consume less, and do less of all carbon producing activities.

I really think such ideology could only be conceived in a very rich country that is not struggling. It's hard to sell it to people from poor or developing countries.

Now – where I am going with this: I am saying that INDIVIDUAL action… while in some cases is fine (like using public transport instead of car, using energy efficient lightbulbs), can become a heavy burden on people and ask them to go against EVERYTHING that they aspire to in life… Which I honestly think people should not be asked to do…

So I think the only real solution is in government doing its job right… Heavy taxation of carbon heavy industries, efforts on reforestation, efforts on developing new technologies that can help us, subsidies to carbon negative businesses etc…

The point is, the governments should create such an environment in which we will reach our goals in reducing emissions, even with our normal tendencies to improve our situation still firmly in place. Because people will always want to improve their situation, and that's why they work hard and study hard, etc… They will never want to go back to lower standards of living or give up on their dreams. But with heavy taxation and regulation and some additional measures we could reach goals in reducing emissions, even if we don't press individuals so hard to give up on living their life freely…

And then in such an environment, when we aren't pushed that hard, or judged for such a thing that a couple of decades ago was completely normal, like flying, then perhaps we might be more willing to make some more sacrifices to protect the environment…

But really I think if all the people became environmentalists economy could collapse very quickly.

What are your thoughts?

submitted by /u/hn-mc
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Updated: January 26, 2021 — 8:23 am

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