The Royal Family and carbon management: two seemingly unrelated topics of conversation. But over the past few weeks, the unlikely duo has been colliding in the popular press, causing headlines galore, most of which are negative.
From publicly advocating sustainable family planning by decreeing to only have two children, to then flying exclusively via private jet – arguably one of the biggest contributors to global warming, Meghan and Harry have been causing a media frenzy. These deeply hypocritical self-proclaimed eco-warriors face immense backlash over their carelessly obtained, and not to mention staggering, number of air miles.
As active climate change campaigners, the royal pair indeed present a flawed example of what responsible carbon management looks like. But their efforts, regardless of how deeply problematic they are, nevertheless raise some interesting issues about the ways individuals can, and should, reduce our increasingly rising carbon use.
The rapidly declining state of our planet is something to worry about. Whether it be a radical change, such as giving up a meat-based diet, or slightly more subtle such as remembering to do the recycling, research and statistics present one clear message: human activity creates serious damage to our environment and it is our responsibility to do something about it.
An intimidating feat it seems, but according to research conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017, there are four key steps to take in individually conducting a more eco-friendly lifestyle within first-world societies. These include: eating a vegetarian diet, reducing the annual number of flights taken, living car-free and reducing the number of children you have.
While individual conduct may feel insignificant against the wider backdrop of globally induced environmental issues, it is important to remember that sometimes it only takes a single individual to kick-start a community or even nation into participating in a movement towards better carbon management. Take Greta Thunberg for example. At just 15 years old she took to campaigning outside of the Swedish Parliament with a single sign reading “School Strike for Climate”, and now she is an internationally recognised environmentalist set to become one of the most prominent activists in the world.
And whilst we can hardly say that her influence has had the desired effect on the US President, Greta’s persistence attests to the fact that in leading by example, the individual truly can influence the community. Besides, the now global phenomenon of recycling started as an individually inspired act. Before it became law to separate your plastics from your cardboards, advocates during the environmental post-war boom years campaigned tirelessly until the 1970s, when a government-funded recycling scheme was officially finally implemented.
Maybe Meghan and Harry are right. Whether it is a couple, a family or an individual, we truly do have the power to make a difference. A single action can help our planet and inspire others around us.
Image: Jeanne Menjoulet via Wikimedia Commons