The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2018)]
In “Wealthier People Produce More Carbon Pollution-Even the 'Green' Ones,” David Roberts highlights the presence of wealthy people in considerations of climate change and carbon emissions. He makes it clear that although wealthy people often describe themselves as ‘Green’ or ‘environmentally friendly,’ their carbon footprints do not match their good intentions.
Scientists discovered that “the variables that most predict carbon footprint are “per capita living space, energy used for household appliances, meat consumption, car use, and vacation travel” (135). Roberts argues that the energy used to produce to the lifestyles of wealthier people are far greater than their relatively small attempts at recycling and buying organic produce.
What reactions did you have to the article? Why?
I agree with many statements made in this article. Although relatively more wealthy people probably do make efforts they see as positive towards fighting climate change, they also produce a lot of waste. Wealthier people can afford certain luxuries others cannot and this results in an increase of electricity usage, gasoline usage, and general pollution.
This article made me realize how enormous the changes needed to be in order to make an impact. It also made me feel a little hopeless because as the author said, "I don't see the wealthy... agreeing to forgo the pleasures of a wealthy lifestyle".I can only hope that someone is able to come up with a creative way to make an impact on our environment without having us rely on individuals to collectively change their ways. We know that collective action is hard to come by.
It makes sense that wealthy people who have access to planes for travel, and large, energy powered homes would make more carbon emissions than regular people, or poor people. People will not give up on these lifestyles and so the only solution to the carbon emission problem is to develop new technology to decrease the effects. I wonder how much of an effect on pollution do middle and low class people have. Personally if I have a lot of paper I need to get rid of an the option of sending it to the landfill or recycling it, I would feel bad just throwing it away and would recycle it.
While reading this article I was surprised that no matter how much we reduce waste, pollution, or completely try to erase our carbon footprint it still wouldn't be enough to stop climate change. "Even if every American could get their lifestyle emissions down somewhere close to the baseline, it still wouldn't be nearly enough to solve climate change" (pg.136). This made me realize that no matter what we can't try to change climate change but we can try to reduce the rate at which we make it happen.
I found it interesting how there were lines of research done about what drives environmental behavior. To my surprise, income is a primary determinant of the ecological footprint. You would think that people's own state of identity is what drive them to go green but it really is their income.
I found the quote, "With wealth comes opportunities for consumption" ( p.136) to be interesting because I never thought of carbon emissions and global warming in this way. Before reading this article, I had the impression that the wealthy would be more environmentally conscious because they have the privilege of better choices. However, when we look at what actions cause substantial environmental change, it is the less wealthy that are making the most difference (whether they are aware of it or not).
Upon reading the article, I found it rather surprising on the stance it took.
For example, a part of the article states, "I'm feeling quite gloomy about human nature these days and have less faith than ever in our collective foresight. I don't see the wealthy, and most people reading this, agreeing to forego the pleasures of lifestyle on behalf of future generations."
So, essentially, the speaker is saying that they don't necessarily have any faith that we will give up our lifestyles to accommodate the planet and make it safe and sustainable for the future.
I would agree that a lot of people won't give up their lifestyles, but at the same time, that statement is being said without having any sort of recommendations in place and kind of foreseeing the worst.
I think that within the passage, there should be more recommendations about rather how we, as people of the planet, should try and pursue actions to make the earth more green. While at the same time, the passage has a very negative connotation. To me, that is like getting on a plane and expecting your pilot to crash. Rather than focusing on the negative things people are doing, maybe focus on the positive and how others should mimic it. For example, in very recent history, Jeff Bezos donated roughly $1 billion dollars to assist in fighting climate change.
Overall, I just think the article should take a more positive view and look on how we COULD help the planet, rather than reasons we are hurting it.
Climate change articles never surprise me. It makes that wealthier people produce more carbon pollution than non-wealthy people. The statement “the variables that most predict carbon footprint are “per capita living space, energy used for household appliances, meat consumption, car use, and vacation travel” on page 135 supports the theory. Wealthy people are more likely to have larger living spaces and use more energy. They also are more likely to drive more and take more vacations overall because they have the money to do so. Because of this, they are burning more fossil fuels and using more energy than non-wealthy people. Although wealthy people are bigger polluters, that does not mean wealthy people are the only ones that need to make a change. Everyone needs to be more aware of their energy usage and carbon foot-print to reduce climate change.
I agree with the article that majority of people would not drastically change their lifestyle in hopes to fix climate change. People enjoy the convenience of the current transportation and industry and know that "even if every American could get their lifestyle emissions down somewhere close to that baseline, it still wouldn't be nearly enough to solve climate change" (136). Many people are satisfy on knowing that them recycling and not littering is helping the environment, although it's barely making a difference.
This article did not surprise me whatsoever. I always knew that the wealthy and, in turn, corporations produce more pollution and waste due to how much spending they do. The fact that the rest of society has convinced themselves and were brainwashed by media and the wealthy that the majority of society - i.e. the middle and lower class - are the main contributors to pollution and are responsibe for fixing it is just frustrating. Society continuously comes up with different ways to be more "economically friendly" when in reality the pollution they make up is minuscule in comparison to the pollution the wealthy and corporations create. Unfortunately, there isn't much society can do about it as corporations and the wealthy want to continue and maintain their wealth, and will not downgrade anything in order to allow the environment to thrive. The only way to make them change their polluting ways is to create laws that force them to be more economically conscious, and that in itself would not slide in today's political climate.
I love how the author noted that reducing your carbon footprint can be done in such a simple way as cycling to work, instead of driving. Not only is it healthy for the environment, but the physical activity will have positive effects on an individual's mental health as well (134). As I plan for the future by thinking of moving to a warmer region for my career, cycling to work is definitely something that I want to implement often!
This article just goes to show that the little things we do to protect the Earth is not enough. Our efforts are in vain unless we go forth with this "circular economy" (137). Even with our efforts to go green by eating less meat, buying organic foods, and travelling via walking/biking, we still will not be able to do enough in this current climate. Consumerism is the main drive to climate change and we have grown accustomed to this lifestyle. We think too much of ourselves and not much of the long term. This article has made me think about my own life choices and what I can do to help the environment. But even then, it won't be much unless our whole environmental economy changes. Quite unfortunate.
I think Roberts is absolutely right, especially in the closing section of this article. Most people really won't care enough to make drastic lifestyle changes for the sake of the planet. I'll admit that I personally am not willing to give up the luxuries I am so used to enjoying. Apathy does seem to be one of the biggest issues of modern times. When it comes to climate change, we may not care unless we have to, but by then it will be too late.
After reading this article I found it interesting that the rich typically emit more carbon pollution than those that are less fortunate. While reading the essay and understanding why this is the case it makes sense. The one expense that seemed to sum it all up was travel; most people dream of getting rich and once they do so traveling the world. There are few modes of transportation which will allow this type of travel across the seas and the most common is very harmful to the planet. I think what an important step toward saving the planet are those with higher socioeconomic statuses to utilize their power to create change across the nation. It is not enough for a group or one individual to change their lifestyle, it is up to all of us to change our expectation of comfort in order to save the planet.
After reading this article I found it surprising that there were so many other factors involved in determining an individual's carbon footprint besides the obvious ones like recycling and cutting down on using plastic. I also found it especially interesting how author George Monbiot, pointed out that it is going to take a lot more than technology and the promotion of being green to actually begin to fight climate change as a lot of humans do not want to change their lifestyle for the sake of the environment. I do agree with his point though because you can see the example of humans not wanting to change their lifestyle and continue to do the bare minimum of recycling, using a reusable water bottle, and using reusable bags at stores in "efforts" to try and help the environment when we could be doing so much more.
- Alexis S.
I agree with the information/message this article is presenting. There are a lot of people wth more money that encourage everyone to be more "green" but they are the ones that contribute the most to carbon emissions and I don't think they realize how much they do. This article also made me realize that climate change is an even bigger problem than people think it is.
One point in the article that I found interesting was how minimal the individual actions of those who consider themselves "green" have on reducing carbon emissions. On page 136, Roberts stated "By just living in America (or any wealthy, developed country) and enjoying its shared resources and infrastructure, you are responsible for a certain baseline level of its shared emission as well".
This statement really surprised me because it showed how difficult it will be to actually make a huge impact on reducing carbon pollution. I also found it interesting that this point isn't really talked about in the media as the media usually focuses on what individual choices you can make to reduce carbon emissions and kind of misleads us to thinking we are making a huge impact. However, I do understand that putting some type of effort into fixing this problem is better than making zero efforts.
I had not been very surprised with the information provided in the reading.The shift towards "going green" is only more common because it seems cool. Institutional problems need institutional solutions, which I feel will not happen anytime soon. It will be quite difficult to convince every nation in the world, especially more developed nations, to change their entire lifestyle.
I Wasn't surprised by the information contained in the article. However, even though the small actions that those who self-identify as environmentally friendly don't make a large impact in the grand scheme of things, I think they help at least make other people try to be more environmentally conscious as well. The article said that "even if every American could get their lifestyle emissions down...it still wouldn't be nearly enough to solve climate change" (136). I feel as if the article was very truthful and honest, however i feel like these facts shouldn't stop people from trying and doing what they can.
My initial reaction to the article was a feeling of discouragement. Even though the author stated that we should continue to "go green" and try to reduce our carbon footprint, it kind of feels pointless to continue in that direction when those behaviors don't make much of a difference. It's even more discouraging to realize how much we would have to even actually change our lifestyle in order to make a noticeable difference. However, it's important for people to be aware of this situation to understand how serious it really is. If the author believes that collective action can help us, we need more people on the same page about the problem and how to solve it. Hopefully we will get a solution to climate change in the near future, while still somewhat accommodating the lifestyle that we are accustomed to.
It only makes sense that the rich emits more carbon then a regular citizen. The rich are more likely to drive their cars or take a plane trip while a normal citizen may go by bus or metro. And yeah the whole craze of going green may be only because it looks cool but it is a lot better then doing nothing and saying that someone else will take care of it. The only way to really make a change is if the wealthy want it to or the government makes them and I don't see either of that happening anytime soon.
I was surprised at first when I read what they article was about because you don't usually hear about article about how wealthy people are not completely as green as they thought they were. I do agree with what this article is saying. A lot of wealthy people say they are green but all the things that they use on a day to day basis raises their carbon footprint a lot more. They may be very passionate about the subject of climate change and may even donate money to support it, it still doesn't fully erase it
I feel like the information described in the excerpt is definitely not a new topic that has been discussed before. Being more environmentally aware/going green is something that we, as a planet, should strive for the betterment of. However, it is difficult to encourage different areas worldwide to change because not all areas may have the essential resources to increase sustainability, but it is definitely something that should be discussed more often.
I agree with this article wholeheartedly because climate change will disproportionately impact people in third world countries, as well as lower-income people in the United States. However, Americans believe that everyday people are collectively contributing more to climate change when that is not really the case. It is thought that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global CO2 emissions, so they are the ones who can bring change. Unfortunately, the profit incentives of a worldwide capitalistic machine outweigh human life. Celebrities will continue to act like they care about climate change for praise, but proceed to fly privately and live in estates that are unnecessary in magnitude. The author questioned, "Is emitting carbon a personal sin as well as a social one" (133). This struck me because I believe we are all responsible for ourselves and others, so by harming the planet which is everyone's home, we are really indirectly inflicting pain upon ourselves
I found it very shocking and scary that there is nothing to do to stop climate change. No matter what we can do we can only slow it down, it is too fat gone to be stopped. It is also ironic that it is healthier to be climate conscious. For example cycling to work/school would be healthy and reduce climate change if every American did this but we don’t.
The article made logical sense to me and I did not surprise me. I always see how the wealthy try to make a change or impact on the environment by supporting different organization, but I dont hear about the negative impact their lifestyle put on the enivornment. This article highlights and put a light on that side of the wealthy. I really enjoyed the reading!
In today's age YouTube influencers and other vloggers give insight to rich lifestyles. For example, this family called the ACE family shows insight on their cars, home, and routines. They recycle, but have an expensive mansion, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, and more. This article gives thought that rich people may try to be green but their lifestyles are not producing any green environment. As well, using your money to by things to be more green does not make you green. For example, the family above also has a Tesla, which is good for the Earth, but they still have more cars and items that are not.
The article honestly did not surprise me. Those with money tend to consume more products and buy more things that are bad for the environment. It's crazy to think about how many times celebrities use private cars, airplanes and helicopters a month and what effect it has on climate change. However, I think its unfair for us to expect celebrities to stop using these things because it would be inconvenient for their lifestyle.
This article did not contain a whole lot of information that surprised me, but it did reaffirm what I believed to be true. Its sad that what most people are willing to do, like to carpool, recycle, and conserve water are not enough, and very few people are willing to make those drastic lifestyle changes that could be of more benefit. I don't necessarily blame them and it is not something that we are all able to do, but if millions of us were able to make small lifestyle changes like cutting out meat, and if the wealthy cut out unnecessary luxury like flying in private planes, we would see results.
This article really made me rethink how impactful little things like recycling and not littering are actually making a difference in the world. It is scary to think that no matter how much the average person was to try to make positive impacts on the world regarding climate change, it would be negated by the wealthy and their lavish lifestyles. That is quite a scary thought. - R Kamdem
“Wealthier People Produce More Carbon Pollution" was an interesting article. I say this because being on social media you see this discussion often and most people argue about how celebrities preach about pollution while also leaving enormous footprints with luxury items such as private jets. I find it ironic as well that lower-income pollution is often advertised in campaigns instead of also including the wealthy in the discussion to better their carbon footprint. As stated on page 136 “even if every American could get their lifestyle emissions down somewhere close to baseline it still wouldn’t be nearly enough so it’s all climate change.” Send me this just shows how large in scale the problem is and the damage we already made happen. There is no way to reverse it but there is a way to stop furthering the damage. - N Piggot
I believe that this article made a lot of excellent points. In hindsight, wealthier people probably put forth more effort into trying to reduce their carbon footprint however they unintentionally leave one bigger than that of someone who is not as well-off. For example, people that live in larger homes unintentionally increase their carbon footprint by using more electricity to power the lights in all of the rooms in this larger home. This is something that however unintentional, can make a large difference in the size of their carbon footprint as compared with someone that has a smaller home due to their financial status.
I knew previously, before reading this article, that the topic of climate change is very serious and if we don’t change anything soon, its effects can be detrimental to our world. Yet I was very surprised to learn that no matter how much we try to reduce or ecological footprint, climate change will still occur. This is very discouraging to learn as we see that climate change is an issue that can not be solved by simple efforts. I think this is why so many choose to pretend that it is not a real issue in the first place.
This article kinda hits home because climate change is such a popular common topic around the world. It’s interesting that they brought up that “the primary determinant of a person’s actual ecological footprint is income” (135). They linked climate change with wealth and I think that that point is a good point but also remember that we can all do our part no matter our individual income.
Roberts in the article makes a very valid statement. People are not willing to give up the things that make their lives better for the sake of the planet. For myself I would be able to do this. I want my kids to be able to live in a world as we know it today. I do see a direct link between luxury and climate change as well.
Truthfully, I didn't have much of a reaction to this article because none of it really surprised me. I thought it was obvious that the wealthier had much bigger carbon footprints solely because of the lifestyles they live. Of course there are the few exceptions of some millionaires or wealthy people that still live minimalist lifestyles, but the vast majority have habits that cost more than just money to fund. It's the little things like energy consumption or traveling that aren't considered as much when it comes to what's really contributing to their carbon footprint. Buying organic food and recycling paper and plastic helps some, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't do much in comparison to the tax that their luxuries impose on the environment.
I didn't find anything in this article particularly surprising while reading. I have seen many times where celebrities use unconventional ways of traveling or living that clearly produce a lot of pollution. One part that was very eye opening to me was when they were talking about global warming and said: "It is deeply and ineradicably systemic, women into almost everything human beings do here on earth" (page 134). This stood out because it is very scary and intimidating to think that today anything we do can cause harm to the earth and we must find ways to fix it.
Initially, I was surprised that upper-class individuals who identify as "green" are typically those who make the smallest impact on the environment. However, after considering the drastic changes one will have to make to have a considerable "pro-environment" contribution, I wasn't surprised. As mentioned in the article, "With wealth comes opportunity for consumption" (p.136). Consuming many common resources is typically bad for the environment. Therefore, I would say the less fortunate would be more inclined to make most of the drastic changes for the environment than the wealthy.
This article confirmed all of my assumptions about climate change and the upper-class citizens. In the article, the author says "With wealth comes the opportunity for consumption" (136). This quote clarifies my assumptions on wealthier families having more junk because they have the means to consume more, which means to buy more things and have a greater carbon footprint.
This is not anything new. One could at all times look up the emissions they give off to cater to their lifestyle. People are now looking at the emissions from private jets and seeing the horrible costs of it. The stamp of "green" or "environmentally friendly" is not anything new either. It is just like when companies put NON GMO stamps on their products even though it would not even make sense that that item would we modified. They just want the stamp. The green stamp is just to show that they maybe changed one thing to put off slightly less emissions when in reality, it really does not make enough of a difference. Then they can charge for more also. Which in turn gives them more money to spend on planet killing machines and pieces of engineering that are terrible for the environment.
This reading was very interesting and eye opening. I have always thought it to be true that Upper-class individuals contributed more to pollution, but never read anything on it. It makes sense that they would contribute more to pollution considering everything they have is usually bigger and more powerful. What I found interesting is the fact that even the "green ones" contribute. I would assume since they have many more resources like money and a higher platform (most of the time) they would be able to decrease pollution and help spread awareness. The fact that their attempts of recycling and doing environmentally positive things is greatly outweighed by their lifestyles is something I have never thought about.
It surprised me that the main way in determining someone's ecological footprint is by examining income. I always thought that the only definitive way was to know if the person identifies as green or not. I do notice however that the upper class do have access to certain resources that could cause a lot of pollution.
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