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Are Your Favorite Celebrities Climate Criminals? What Do You Do About It? [OPINION]

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Every day we open Instagram or another social app and scroll through hundreds, maybe even thousands of posts of famous actors, musicians, athletes, and influencers displaying their gallery of luxuries for millions of fans worldwide. We stare in awe, eyes glued to the screen, jealousy, admiring the absurd wealth being flaunted. Yet in honesty most of us never stop to ask what is the cost of those freshly leathered private jet seats and the glittered photos plastered across social media?

Time magazine reported top celebrities produced over 3300 metric tons of CO2 from their private jets in 2022. In comparison, The Nature Conservatory reports in one year, the average American emits only 16 metric tons of CO2 across all fossil fuel-utilizing products. That is over 206 people’s yearly emissions being produced from exclusively the famous’ private jets and does not even begin to consider their uncivilized overconsumption and emissions from their other abundant forms of transformation like their yachts or special sports cars. The outrageous disparity between climate emissions of the average and wealthy as well as corporations’ history with excess expenditures show that the climate crisis is not wholly the fault of the common people. 

The first step to wrangling the climate crisis is understanding the fundamentals. Global warming is intensified by the human emissions of carbon dioxide or CO2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas which upon burning fossil fuels (natural gas, oil, and coal), traps heat within the atmosphere to warm the planet. These gases can be subdued by natural processes like photosynthesis moving between the Earth and the atmosphere. Still, since the mid-20th century, human interference has accelerated the process of CO2 production overly warming the Earth through rapid fossil fuel usage. Sources of fossil fuel burning include cars, trucks, planes, most other forms of transportation, coal-fired power plants, and large factories. 

Some of the most popular icons on the planet are producing thousands of tons of CO2 from simply the costs of their travel. A 2022 study by Greenly lists the top carbon dioxide offenders, including stars such as Taylor Swift who released almost 8,300 tons of CO2, Jay-Z with almost 7,000 tons, and Kim Kardashian with over 4,200 tons. These tons come plainly from their private jets, just the cost of their air travel alone is miles more than any single person could even imagine emitting. At the rate of current emissions, it would take the average American nearly 600 years or approximately 24 generations to build up the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere that Taylor Swift expelled from simply her method of transportation via sky during a single year. 

While celebrities are not immune to the struggles and scrutiny that everyone else faces, it is imperative that rather than divulging climate criticism to the common people, the famous and large corporations are equally criticized. In fact, it is more important to be constantly critical of people with major forms of impact in society, not only because of their mass amount of wealth, but the mass amount of influence which celebrities and corporations exert, the influence that could be used to better the Earth, it is ridiculous for such large voices to exist that are so infrequently used. 

But what can the regular person, a teenager, or a young activist, who is honestly most affected by the outcomes of this disproportionate release of CO2, do? A simple answer: boycotting. Boycotting is the easiest way to grab attention. The quickest way to a change of heart is through quantifiable means, when the flow of money is staggering, it causes people to take notice. When Starbucks sued Workers United, the union of their employees, last November over pro-Palestinian comments, a nationwide boycott broke out against the chain, causing Starbucks’ share price fell, and soon prompted statements from Starbucks looking to negotiate to crop up around December. This will from Starbucks customers to recognize their disagreement with Starbucks’ official ethics is the same motivation that must be held by fans of major celebrities when stars are breaking their pact with the Earth. 

Yet, it is integral to remember to keep all celebrities or influencers accountable no matter the current state of affairs. AP News reports the latest climate scandal, where Taylor Swift’s latest escapades from her Eras tour to her Superbowl appearances cascaded over into social media in the form of strong criticism. Her fast-track trip from Tokyo to Las Vegas, where the Superbowl was held, released approximately 200,000 pounds of carbon emissions. Yet, she is only the latest in a string of public climate scrutiny, from Bill Gates to Leonardo Dicaprio to the Olympics, there is no short of criticism on the internet. However, even in moments of high climate spillage, criticism must be extended universally and continuously to all violators, not merely critiquing the latest updates. Climate criticism should be extended equally to all violators. 

It is important to remember that the effects of the bolstered CO2 emissions are impossible to reverse and the choices made in the past are forever cemented in the Earth’s future. But, the decisions we make and the actions we take moving forward, can help mitigate the production of carbon dioxide to avoid future temperature increases. 

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