By Victoria Mejicanos, Sept. 20, 2022
Climate change is a vastly complex issue we are confronted with each day. It is unfathomably hot, and in recent years, we have experienced some of the worst droughts in history. However, the working class are not the ones to blame and are not singularly responsible for remedying the issue.
When the issue of climate change is discussed, it is on a very individualistic level. “What you can do to combat climate change” and “10 eco-friendly businesses to support” are headlines I see all too often. Yes, it’s important to make individual changes to help the planet, but we shouldn’t be the only group bombarded with this information.
What’s worse than climate change denial is climate change hypocrisy. It’s most harmful when celebrities and politicians are the main culprits. According to Time magazine, “a UK-based sustainability marketing agency analyzed flight data of the celebrities with the worst private jet emissions.” Taylor Swift was at the top of the list, with one of the flights being less than 20 minutes long. Although a spokesperson said Swift did not take all of those flights herself, it is still problematic.
According to the same article, the emissions created by Swift’s jet are equal to the amount of energy used by over 1,000 homes in the U.S for a year. This is especially ironic since Swift has been one of the many celebrities to speak on the state of the planet. According to Newsweek, in a 2020 interview, she considered climate change a “horrific situation.”
Other than the private jet issue, celebrities are wasteful with resources such as water. According to the Los Angeles Times, this August alone, “Kim Kardashian and Sylvester Stallone were among the more than 2,000 people” who “used more than 150% of their water budget” multiple times since the start of the drought emergency.
Kardashian is another ironic culprit, as she is an ambassador for Beyond Meat, which encourages people to eat more sustainably to aid the environment. Simultaneously, she has been caught greenwashing, or making her products seem more sustainable than they actually are.
Politicians aren’t guilt free either. They promise to create policies that will reverse climate change, yet they participate in emission-causing practices. When attending the climate summit in 2021, all of the world’s leaders, including President Joe Biden, took 400 private jets, according to USC Annenberg Media. This is hardly as sustainable as politicians would make themselves seem.
The issue with this duplicity is that it encourages people to emulate the same behavior. If the people who are preaching about implementing necessary policies can’t even follow them, why would the public want to? Moreover, the constant flaunting of these habits makes it a standard people wish to attain. Kylie Jenner posting about her customized jet is going to make people want one.
The hypocrisy that celebrities demonstrate tells me I live in a world where the profit and convenience I can obtain is more important than the world I live and breathe in. This isn’t true. No amount of money can replace clean air. No amount of money can replace fresh water. No amount of money can replace biodiversity, and no amount of money can replace the health and safety that comes from these resources that are slowly being destroyed.
If celebrities used their influence to encourage environmentally conscious habits instead of flaunting the opposite, people might change their outlook when it comes to helping the planet. Furthermore, as stated by Times magazine, “the ability to sway public attitudes and influence policymakers is far more consequential in the climate battle than the emissions from a private jet ride.”
When it comes to climate change, celebrities and policymakers need to be held accountable. It’s exhausting to make changes on an individual level only to feel like it’s in vain because of a wealthier person’s habits. The wealthy should not be exempt from regulation.
Feature image by Sharon Wu
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