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Don't Be a Vote Ghost


Written by Kyan Batuwantudawe (he/him) | | Contributing Writer

Illustration by Mannat (she/her) | @mannatdraws | Contributing Artist

I give zero shits about the environment. ZERO. 0! Null. I set firepits in my garden every night to speed up Earth’s downfall! I never bring a reusable bottle; the vending machine bottles are already chilled! And you got me fucked up if you think I’m gonna’ toss the milk jug cap and the bottle into SEPARATE BINS?!?! Whatchu’ gonna’ do with a lidless bottle? 

Because what’s the point? 

Let’s say that one day I put the bottle and its cap into the red and blue bins respectively (Respectfully, will never happen). Then what? Sing ‘We Are the World’? Ice caps come back? There are billions in this world, so what is me and Greta Thunberg sorting our rubbish going to do against worldwide pollution? After all, it’s those damn corporations transforming the world into a machine fueled by crushed spirits, broken dreams, and emptied pockets… right?

You may be familiar with the statistic of only 100 corporations in the world are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions(GHG). This headline is a common pivot for people who say they don’t bother managing their carbon footprint because if they did, all these corporations would still be causing the majority of GHG emissions anyway. It originates from a Guardian article that cites the 2017 Carbon Majors Report, stating that since the founding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988, just only 100 fossil fuel companies have been contributing this 71% of greenhouse gas emissions. And just those top 10 companies give 50% of GHG emissions. Oh crazy, corporations run the world and even if I were to become a low-emission green warrior, the change I would make is minuscule compared to what big oil is doing? That is the most unbelievable!!

Okay but hold on a tick. If corporations are what they eat (they eat human souls) then buying less of their products, such as single-use plastics, petrol, or meat, would cause them to produce less and therefore lower their GHG emissions (Don’t worry reader, I took economics in year 11 and this is called supply and demand I know I’m so smart.). So this whole time in Auckland raining all the damn time is actually because we’re in a Weathering with You-type scenario where consumers can’t take any responsibility to stop where our planet is headed? Driving is bad for the air? What the fuck? 

In a perfect world where every person stopped driving, forgave high-emission food like meat, or just held a 0-child policy: climate change would stop, and these top 100 companies would have no reason to emit. But guess what? We don’t live in a perfect world; we live in Auckland where people may be dependent on their cars to get to work due to there being no other alternatives or maybe we’re so transfixed on the Kiwi life of grilling steaks next to our black diesel SUV that we don’t even bother to try to change. But all this noise about reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t mean anything if you’re the only one doing it. 

And should our carbon footprint even matter? After all, it was our favourite car-go-vroom producer and number 11 of the top 100 British Petroleum who popularized the term carbon footprint. While the concept of an ecological footprint had been floated around since 1979, the mainstream buzzword-ifcation of the term came from BP’s ad campaign in 2003 shaming people for not managing their carbon footprint and… using the gas BP supplied us with? Wow golly, those rich execs care a lot. Look BP even made a fancy website where you can put in your car mileage and out comes your future generations living in a Mad Max type apocalypse. Look at you, driving your death car. A kid in Africa could’ve eaten that petrol.

Putting the onus on the consumer? Oh boy, that sounds like corporate propaganda! But how does that work? Why would these companies try to persuade us against buying their product? Is it from the goodness of the CEO’s three reptiloid hearts? Because BP’s 13 million dollar campaign donation to lobby against carbon tax in Washington state begs to differ. So why?

It’s not just BP. Oil companies knew about their effect on the climate since 1970. Companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil , BP, and more hired their own scientists and researchers dedicated to finding the relationship between their emissions and the climate, and those results weren’t good. To hide the truth from the public, oil and coal companies spread mass misinformation about how there wasn’t enough proof to say climate change was real, and what proof there was is severely flawed, and “Oops I slipped and my cash fell into some climate-denier groups I’m such a clutz uwu”. This was all in an attempt to keep the truth as silent and uncertain as they could to keep politicians out of their industry and the customer consuming.  Climate change isn’t the oil corporation’s responsibility. It’s yours to realize what a ruse climate change is.

But until the late 20th century when we understood which industries contributed to global warming, the narrative flipped. With the new carbon footprint, it’s your fault that the world is heating! It’s your responsibility the world is dying. How about you stop driving? Stop eating meat? How about using condoms? Hey, let’s skim through articles and figures to calculate every gram of carbon you emit; here’s a calculator to help you! Every day worry about how many emissions you can save, then feel like shit for the emissions you can’t avoid. 10.7 tonnes per year isn’t that bad… Oh! Maybe if I stopped breathing, I can become net zero.

But it's all a distraction. Yes, if everyone cared about their carbon footprint, climate change wouldn’t be a problem. But they know that’s impossible. What is possible, is making you, and furthermore the politicians believe that it’s a personal problem. Maybe there’s no point in trying to change it because fossil fuel will be here to stay. And if that’s what you think, then so be it. It’s the people’s responsibility, not the industry’s!

And shifting responsibility does work. George W. Bush rejected the environmental 1997 Kyoto Protocol treaty “in part, based on input from you”, referring to the Global Climate Coalition who, despite its green name, was a group backed by large players in the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil fuel industry huh? Wait a second…

Oh my shits, the Carbon Majors Report only talks about industrial producers! The Guardian portrays this 71% figure as if it were the percentage of global GHG emissions. But the report actually says that this 71% of emissions these 100 companies produce is the percentage of total emissions only from industrial firms (like fossil fuel producers). SO THE NUMBERS DOESN’T EVEN MEAN ANYTHING! It doesn’t matter if it was 100 companies, or 1000, or 69 because we’re still getting FUCKED the same amount. What have we been thinking all these years? What was the point of any of this?

The point is that, while you were reading this huge ramble of words determining who to point our finger at, you hadn’t realized that my house had actually burst into flames from my unregulated firepit from the beginning… This argument is what they want. We’re too busy self-loathing that we don’t have the time or motivation to vote, advocate, and be passionate about supporting the actual laws that can change our future. We think there’s no point in voting for more environmentally friendly entities, but there is. 

You are more important than you think, and don’t let anything British tell you otherwise.

Don’t be a vote ghost.


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