The Blame Game Of The Climate Crisis

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The climate crisis is everyone’s problem, but there’s only so much that the people on the ground can do. A huge chunk of change can come from those higher up; so who does the responsibility of the climate crisis lie with? 



The responsibility of the climate crisis doesn’t only fall on the shoulders of a select group of people; the whole world finds itself in the thick of this monumental catastrophe, and so those with power to implement significant change (governments, the rich, large businesses/companies) need to join the fight. 

For decades, people all over the world have been warned about the impending climate crisis, except now it’s right on our doorsteps and not something “on its way”.  

The way governments have been addressing (or rather failing to address) climate change is directly affecting young people, and now, they will be the one’s left to deal with the aftermath of the harmful systems put in place by older generations, as well as that delay in action. 

That delay in action is what is going to cost us our future if serious steps aren’t taken soon.

“Governments and [the] private sector have definitely delayed their response to climate change; there is a general lack of will to act and change by those who are profiting off [of] current behaviour. It has never been taken seriously by those in power, and it is still not being taken seriously,” says Courtney Morgan, a South African human Geographer and climate justice activist, in an interview with Careers Portal. 

South Africa’s youth (and youth all over the world) have done notable work towards raising awareness and bringing about change to fight for our planetary home.

Through the hosting of webinars, walkouts at their schools, Instagram lives and marches all around the country to raise awareness, the youth have stepped up significantly. 

And yet, they are not always taken seriously. 

Morgan calls the lack of open-mindedness from authority figures towards the youth fighting for change “belittling and intentional”.

“Young people are not listened to and are called silly because we are making valid points, which [is] rocking the boat for those in power. The only way to dispel very true statements from young people is to brand us as uneducated, or that we don’t have enough life experience to understand,” elaborates Morgan. 

South African youth are also in the midst of battling so many other threats to their future: chronic inequality, unemployment and Gender-Based Violence, just to name a few. Climate change comes as a challenge to their survival, while aggravating the issues already present.

The reason behind the youth’s passion towards the climate crisis is because it is their future at stake. 

“This is our future; those who are profiting off [the] burning [of] our planet will most likely not be alive to experience the most severe impacts of the climate crisis. We have no choice but to act,” says Morgan.  

Steps have been taken to reduce the large carbon footprint humans have left all over the world, but there is still a considerable amount of work that needs to be done. 

Plenty of debate and discourse about who is to blame for the climate crisis has taken place, along with an unspoken, unfair and unrealistic responsibility placed on the average person to do their part to help combat the deterioration of our planet. 

While these practices (recycling, using public transport instead of cars, reducing water wastage, eating as a vegan/vegetarian, etc.) are definitely welcomed and should be continued, there is only so much that those practices can do that will make a large enough impact.

“It is unjust to expect people to reduce their emissions on an individual scale. But even those who are able to, of course it is not a problem for people to recycle, eat less meat, use less water if they so choose, but this is not the focus of climate action and should never be. We have to have collective action to call on governments and corporations to drastically reduce emissions, and implement meaningful and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures,” explains Morgan. 

Using paper straws instead of plastic ones definitely reduces the amount of plastic that freely floats in our oceans, but a government policy that taxes the largest contributors of greenhouse gases would put out some of the fire that is burning a hole in our planet’s ozone layer. 

The 1% of the world's richest people emit more than double what the poorest half of the world emits. 

Earlier this year, it was revealed that celebrities have been using their private jets for incredibly short trips in the air.

Kylie Jenner (among others) was labelled a “climate criminal” after posting a photo on Instagram of her and boyfriend Travis Scott’s private planes with the caption “You wanna take mine or yours?”. 

The post immediately sparked a debate on Twitter, especially after it was revealed that she used her plane for short trips that would’ve been less than an hour if she took a car instead. 

Many have criticized celebrities’ use of private airplanes due how much carbon dioxide is emitted when in use, while us little people on the ground have been tasked with fighting climate change through the small ways in which we are able to. 

Fans were quick to point out the problems with Jenner’s post, writing, “Why do I have to limit my meat consumption and use paper straws while the 1% gets to pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere for a day trip to Palm Springs?” and “But it’s us who must use paper straws.” 

Another follower commented, “girl what am i recycling for?".

It begs the question: what is the point of recycling, saving water, using material shopping bags instead of plastic ones, taking the bus instead of a car, using solar energy, etc., if those with the biggest impact on the wellbeing of our planet aren’t doing their part? 

“It is much easier to blame the everyday person who forgets to put their can in the recycling, than to admit that climate change is a capitalist issue and one that can only be solved by drastically reducing emissions on an industrial and commercial scale and at the national and international level,” writes Morgan. 

Courtney Morgan (she/her) is a human Geographer and climate justice activist who is particularly interested in the gendered and racial experiences of climate change. She has worked on food sovereignty activism and notably, worked on the Climate Justice Charter for South Africa.

Committed to building community activism, grassroots organizing and building capacity of young people, she is now a campaigner with the African Climate Reality Project working on public finance and climate literacy.



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