The great halogen alibi


There is not a single more subversive trend in the fight against climate change than this one:

“Thank you for listening to my presentation on government’s role in [global warming / pollution credits / energy regulation]. Now here’s what YOU can do to help reduce YOUR carbon footprint. If everyone in this country turned off their computers overnight we could power the city of Toledo for 12 whole weeks!”

Helpful? Clearly not. Innocuous? Absolutely not.

It gives the illusion that voluntary and moderate feats of individual effort and discomfort — on the level of flossing daily to fight gingivitis — can solve this problem.

The presenter has just given everyone in the room license to feel good about themselves without meaningfully contributing. The subtext is this: Turning off your computer at night buys you the right to be content with your contribution. So it’s okay — drive your SUV! Vote for James Inhofe! You earned it Mr. Computer-Turner-Offer!

The last slide of that presentation should say this:

Individual choice can not and will not curtail global warming. Your personal responsibilities lie solely with your vote and your voice.


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