Fairness and kindness are not weaknesses

You are much closer to sleeping on the streets than sleeping in the mansion of a billionaire. And the envious desire to sleep in the mansion of the billionaire is what is destroying our environment. We have allowed the greedy and cruel to dominate and their insatiable greed and cruelty will inevitably lead to environmental destruction.

Billionaires are responsible for a million times more greenhouse gas emissions than the average person. Twenty Big Tech companies rule the world, while every year, 125 ultra-wealthy individuals generate the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 85 million cars. 77 million people are responsible for more climate-changing emissions than the poorest five billion, while the ultra-elites are emitting 77 times more CO2 than is compatible with a 1.5°C warming limit. By 2019, the top 1% in the US were responsible for more emissions than the poorest 50%, while the world’s top 1% of belchers produce over 1000 times more CO2 than the bottom 1%. The top 1% elite each belch 110 tons of CO2 a year while the poorest 50%, just 1.5 tons. Between 1995 and 2021, the wealthiest 1% captured 38% of total wealth growth while the bottom 50% captured only 2.3%. The top 1% elite pocket two-thirds of all new wealth. If the richest 10% of the world were forced to cut their CO2 levels to that of the European Union mean level, a 32% reduction in global CO2 emissions could be achieved.

The average resident of Mali has the same carbon footprint as a British kettle, while the average resident of Nigeria has the same carbon footprint as a US fridge. An average person living in sub-Saharan Africa emits about 0.6 tons of CO2 per year, while an average person living in the USA emits 14.5 tons. In order to prevent more than 1.5°C of global heating, our average emissions should be no greater than two tons of CO2 per person per year. Just 1% of the world’s population earns more than $58,000 per year, while an annual salary of $19,300 makes you part of the global richest 10%.

Bill Gates belches 7,500 tons of CO2 per year, while Roman Abramovich belches 32,000 tons. Billionaires are Machiavellian, psychopathic, and narcissistic, according to psychological research. They are malevolent self-promoters, emotionally cold, nonstop liars and highly aggressive. They love private jets, whose sales reached their highest ever level ever in 2023. Private jets numbers have more than doubled in two decades.

The United States of America only includes 5% of the world’s population, while accounting for more than a quarter of environmental damage. The richest 10% from the USA produce 56.5 tons of CO2 per person per year, which is more than double the emissions of the richest 10% in Europe, and almost double that of the richest 10% of Chinese. The USA is the world’s all-time greatest emitter and destroyer of environments. The USA is responsible for 40% of the climate breakdown. The European Union is responsible for 29%. The Global North is responsible for 92% of excess global carbon emissions.

The poorest 50% of people cause only 12% of CO2 but will experience 75% of relative income loss due to climate change, while owning just 2% of world wealth. Meanwhile, the top 10% belch 48% of total CO2, own 76% of everything, and will experience only 3% of relative income loss due to the destruction they cause. Why are we allowing the greedy and cruel destroy our environment?

Global energy consumption is almost three times higher than the energy that would be required to meet basic needs for all. Separating the energy of frivolous wants from the energy of genuine need is what we must do. Are we going to drive two-ton SUVs to the apocalypse, while smoking vapes and making TikTok videos? The super-rich global 1% consume as much energy as would provide a decent living to 1.7 billion. If the middle class gave up their frivolous wants, five billion people could live dignified, sustainable lives.

In summary, the rich—not the poor—are destroying the environment. If you are privileged enough to be reading this then you—like me—are currently part of the problem, not the solution. What’s the solution? A massive reduction in consumption by rich and middle-class people and the establishment of a fair living standard for all within the context of a sustainable environment.


Podcast: World Wide Waste
Interviews with prominent thinkers outlining what can be done to make digital as sustainable as possible.
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