Around the world, activists are conducting a “climate strike” on Fridays, walking out of their offices and schools to protest climate change. Some are even blocking busy intersections in Washington D.C.
Unfortunately for the strikers, their time and energy won’t achieve lasting change—if any change at all. Blocking roads just leads to more emissions due to traffic congestion. It causes people to waste fuel and prevents them from working to provide for their families. All while the protestors demand that government do something.
Yet throughout history, the best solutions have come not from government fiat, but from action by “we the people.” That’s the uniqueness of the United States—we are free to direct our own futures. We create our own hope. Waiting around for politicians to act is no way to respond to real crises. And it’s no way to win hearts and minds.
A Princeton study found that climate experts are perceived as more credible when they’ve made serious efforts to cut their own carbon dioxide emissions. The climate strikers—most of whom likely got to their destination via car, bus, or train powered by fossil fuels—would make more of an impact by taking direct, personal action.
If climate strikers are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there are countless ways to lead by example.
The My Climate Pledge website shares simple, realistic options to reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions: planting trees, limiting air conditioning use, purchasing carbon credits, pursuing a low-waste lifestyle, and refusing to drive or fly. Instead of bullying peers and politicians into supporting (or merely pandering to) the climate agenda, My Climate Pledge urges strikers to take their concerns into their own hands.
But at the end of the day, any effort to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be much ado about nothing.
Climate data models used by the United Nations, which have historically overestimated warming, project that even totally eliminating fossil fuels in America would barely register—reducing the average global temperature by less than a tenth of a degree if accomplished by 2030, as the Green New Deal calls for.
So much for “climate justice now.”
Given the limited ability of hydrocarbon bans and renewable energy agendas to meaningfully impact the environment, perhaps the best path forward is the path we’re already on.
After all, despite significantly increasing our energy production, energy consumption, and vehicle miles traveled in the last five decades, the EPA reports that the six criteria pollutants have declined by a monumental 74%. The U.S. is also ranked number one in the world for access to clean water. We’ve become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas while leading the world in environmental protection.
Meanwhile, life expectancy, poverty, and income have also improved drastically around the world. While the environmentalist left preaches that population and economic growth are the planet’s enemy, the reality is that prosperity and environmental quality go hand in hand.
Oil and gas have lifted billions out of poverty and subsistence living. They have the potential to continue improving the human condition across the globe. They have fueled the scientific experimentation and innovation that bring us nearly everything we rely on to get through our days, from clean water and medicine to smartphones and the ability to travel the globe.
In the late 1800s, the average American family spent over 80% of its income on basic necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. Today, that proportion has dropped to a third. We earn more, produce more, and are freer than ever to invest our hard-earned money on education, charity, leisure, and luxuries that improve our quality of life. Our affordable, reliable energy resources have the power to bring that prosperity and freedom to developing countries around the world.
Let’s stop the strikes and support pro-energy policies to end poverty and improve environmental quality around the world.