This is not about global warming. I need not make the case that humans are in trouble. We are in trouble. Civilization will collapse. The only question is when. Billions will suffer and die. Such a collapse may be the only thing to save us from extinction.
The problems humans face are baked into how we act, think, and are. No small fix, no technological miracle, no increase in efficiency will change this outcome. Not all humans are equally responsible for the mess we are in. A few ruin it for everyone else. As individuals, we are part of the problem or part of the solution. Which side am I on?
Humans are doomed because 1% of the world’s population cannot but live modern privileged energy-intensive lives. The correlation between wealth and energy consumption is strong. Of the 7.7 billion humans alive in the world today, one percent or 77 million people, have a wealth of at least $871,320 in 2018. Many US households have accumulated such wealth. Ten percent of the world’s population has wealth above $93,170 in 2018. They lead privileged energy-intensive lifestyles.
Those who have wealth control the system. I don’t think of myself as wealthy but am part of the 10% that maintains the system as it is. I’ve gone through my carbon expenditures and minimized them where possible but living in the US adds 8.5 tons of carbon each year besides whatever carbon I release directly. An MIT study provides data on how much government services contribute on my behalf.
I am part of the problem no matter how little pollution I release.