How Are The Wealthiest People Polluting The Environment? – OpEd


Globally, people working for the cause of the environment now seem to agree that the richest people in the world are at the forefront of polluting the environment.

Though only one percent of the world’s population is adversely affecting the environment, the impact however is heavier than the rest of the 99 percent of the population.

According to a report by Oxfam, the number of such people is about 60 million. They do not necessarily live in a wealthy nation. Such people could be living in any country.

Interestingly, in recent years, the US, China, and, surprisingly India have produced more rich people than any other nation and the list is growing at an exponential level.

What are wealthy people doing to the environment as it has alarmed the environmentalists?

The environmentalist’s belief is based on an established norm that a person’s lifestyle changes with an increase in their spending power.

You name anything from clothing to hobbies, and from food to luxury items, they are all related to someone’s financial situation.

As soon as you see a newly rich person, what are the things that make you recognize them immediately? According to a Bloomberg report, as people get richer, their diets begin to innovate, and the number of meat increases. The report goes on to point out an interesting aspect that if each of us started eating like an Australian or a British citizen, we
would need another land.

According to US agencies, the average American ate about 53 pounds of beef in 2019, which is the most volatile food. Food is not the only consumer product that changes with the lifestyle. There are many other habits that change with the influx of wealth in a family. If we look at their hobbies then we will find that they do all those crazy things that a person on a low budget cannot afford to do. Superyachts are becoming extremely popular among wealthy people in the US.

The sales of a luxury yacht, which is one of the top air-polluting machines, saw a 77% increase last year.

You might have heard of the famous space travel of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. That much-hyped and glorified 11-minute space trip used as much fuel as the world’s poorest one billion people use in their whole life.

Almost 10 percent of all flights from France in 2019 were private jets.

In just four hours of flight, these planes blew as much fuel as the average European citizen could not blow in a whole year. According to a report by the Boeing Company, if the total population of the world is divided into five parts, then the four-fifth of them have never travelled by plane in their entire lives.

The carbon footprint of wealthy people should not be difficult to assess. If we look at their lifestyle, everything that environmentalists say about them is true.

Who doesn’t like a car? But the question is how many people afford it? If you want to pollute the earth’s environment the fastest, the easiest way is to buy a car.

According to a report by the International Energy Agency cars with their toxic gases such as carbon are the most pollutant industry after the# power sector.

In the United States, 84 out of every 100 people own a car. Now, to make a comparison with a poor country, take the example of the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

They are grouped among the poorest 10 percent of the population.

Three-quarters of their men ride bicycles that do not have any carbon footprint.

I forgot to mention that after decades of environmental campaigning, the world is still analyzing data on carbon-producing economies. At least, this is the impression that we have from environment-related talks and initiatives of governments all around the globe.

Their intervention is continuing to focus on the scale of the economy or industry. By such intervention, the environmental action is targeted at most pollutant nations. For instance, they are looking at an income level of a nation and how much of that income is being spent on carbon emissions.

Yet, attention has not been paid to who at the individual level is contributing to polluting the environment.

We have to think about how this high carbon lifestyle of rich people is impacting our planet.

And last but not least, most people consider themselves harmless when it comes to their own carbon footprint. They do not consider themselves to be ruining the environment and for that matter be part of any effort to fix it. In their opinion, all this is a headache for governments and environmental agencies.

But think about it, weren’t all the major problems in the world a problem for ordinary people before they became a problem for governments?

It is ordinary people who keep institutions and governments on the right track.

Mazhar Iqbal Mazhar is an educationist, author, and environmentalist. He can be reached at [email protected]

Mazhar Iqbal

Mazhar Iqbal is a peace and human rights activist from Pakistan Administered Kashmir, and has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and websites. Born and raised in a conflict area, he has a natural bent to study and reflect on the happenings across the Line of Control in Kashmir. Thus, generally but not exclusively focus of his writings is on situation of human rights, peace and political developments in this zone. He is associated with Press for Peace and can be reached at [email protected]

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