We love to vilify others, don’t we? Especially Big Government, Big Business, Big Oil, and so on. But let’s take a quick look at how we actually compared to CEOs of Big Oil and Big Coal, some of the most infamous or widely disliked “Big Boys” in the world (& certainly in environmental circles).
Scale of Responsibility
First, let’s note that the heads of big industry have a different level or scale of responsibility than normal individuals like you and me. That means that their actions have a greater overall impact, but, basically, that we have to look at their actions and our own in a relative way if we are going to compare.
How Do We Compare?
- The coal and oil industry spend millions and millions keeping the U.S. (and other nations) hooked on oil and coal because if they don’t, they are set to lose a lot of money, potentially even all of their business, one might say.
- While normal individuals like you and me don’t spend money to make sure we don’t lose money, how many people go out and buy slightly more expensive solar power systems (which even pay for themselves eventually and can create income in the long term) in order to cut our coal addiction?
- Similarly, do you do your part and buy organic and local food, even though it costs a little more (sometimes), in order to protect our water systems and soil and climate?
- So, while coal and oil companies spend money to keep the system as it is and make more profit, we “save” money by sticking to the current system. Practically, the result is the same.
- On another note, why don’t coal and oil companies at least clean up their act a bit or encourage people to use their resources more efficiently? They could at least do that, right? Well, it is less convenient for them to (and would cost some money). Not a good enough argument? Let’s turn the tables again.
- Do you bike or use mass transit and trains or do you drive and fly? Chances are, if you are normal, you do the latter. And this is even despite the fact that there are significant benefits to bicycling (better health; it’s fun; it’s cheaper; it’s faster sometimes), riding transit (it costs a lot less; it helps the economy and saves us time; you are free to do other things since you don’t have to keep your eyes on the road — read, play games, work), and riding trains (same benefits as above and it’s more scenic than flying).
Overall, our actions, relative to the scale of our responsibility, are comparable to a coal or oil company’s if we take the normal route. Or, even worse, given that we receive clear benefits (especially in the long term) from going solar, eating vegetarian or vegan, or biking and using mass transit and trains instead of driving and flying.
Coal and oil companies, on the other hand, would be committing a sort of suicide by fully going green or supporting a green agenda.
I actually thought up this article nearly a year ago, and even wrote it up months ago, but didn’t publish it for a long time for some reason. Anyway, hope this is the perfect time & it is useful.
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Photo Credit: Nicolai Kjærgaard
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.