Link to original article in Irish Independent on Jan 4 here

After a brief interlude to accommodate the season of debauchery that churns out more plastic packaging, food waste and air miles than any other time of year, we can return to smug environmentalism.

But only after a yoga retreat in Morocco or some soul-and-body-cleansing ayahuasca in Peru – a popular destination for the Earth-conscious, away from the wasteful heathens back home.

Being a smug environmentalist is great. It gives you carte blanche to live your best life, while blaming everyone else for carbon emissions or the rubbish making its way into the gut of an unsuspecting sea turtle in the Galapagos Islands.

“We all care about the environment,” we shout, yet 1.2 million people flew in and out of Dublin Airport this Christmas – its busiest on record.

What about bloody LOL dolls? The plastic packaging around them alone is enough to fill a green bin – but, hey, we need to buy six until our spoilt four-year-old finally gets the one she really wants.

I’m guilty myself.

Sure, I didn’t indulge in frenzied purchases for my daughter, and I gladly take buses, yet I just disposed of the packaging around some bakewell slices I scoffed moments ago.

Soon, it could end up being burnt in a factory outside Jakarta, harming the lungs of local children.

It’s a sad reality, but no one wants to give up their creature comforts, eat home-grown veg only, tear up their driver’s licence, curtail holidays or use bamboo toothbrushes.

We just want other people to give up theirs, while blaming previous generations for the demise of our planet.

According to German TV station WDR, grannies are at the forefront of crimes against our natural world.

The channel’s youth choir (do TV stations have such a thing?) performed an environmentally friendly remix of ‘Meine Oma fährt im Hühnerstall Motorrad’ (which means ‘my granny drives a motorbike in the chicken coop’ – Germans have weird songs) with the lyrics changed to ‘Meine oma ist ne alte umweltsau’ (or ‘My granny is an old environment-destroying pig’). Oops. Needless to say, it didn’t go down well.

As the proud owner of both a German mother and a now deceased German granny, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Older Germans have been recycling since Otto von Bismarck masterminded German unification in 1871.

Neither my granny nor my mother ever owned a car, or flew to retreats in the Himalayas, or drank matcha latte in disposable cups, or left the lights on unnecessarily.

I witnessed my granny eat bread so hard her dentures got stuck in it.

So if you’re going to shame people, shame the right ones. New data from the Climate Accountability Institute shows that fossil fuel companies – including Saudi Aramco, BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Iranian Oil – are responsible for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

We are all guilty of using these.

We must collectively boycott big oil rather than demand personal sacrifices from others.

Climate change is occurring alongside, and as a result of, progress. The 2010s were the best decade ever for the world’s poorest. Extreme poverty was cut in half from 15.7pc in 2010 to 7.7pc.

According to a study by the Brookings Institution, a non-profit in Washington DC, a tipping point was reached in 2018, with half the world in the middle class or above for the first time in history.

Poverty has all but been eradicated in China.

So their enjoyment of a better life with all its air travel and other trappings is fuelling rampant carbon emissions.

Being switched on is good, but trying to figure out a way progress can occur, while not shaming others, would be better.


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