As wedding season winds down, climate summit season is just heating up (and boy would they love to blab to you about how much it is heating up!). But while many people think these summits are a drag — with their dire predictions, finger waiving, and pleas for everyone in the world to eat dandelions and commute via pogo stick — they’re forgetting the best part of the climate summits — the reports on what transportation billionaires are taking.
For the Google Camp on the climate crisis, the guests arrived on a collection of private jets, luxury cars, and yachts — presumably because that car the shirtless villain in Mad Max: Fury Road drove would’ve been seen as too gas guzzling:
In fact, the Palermo airport had made preparations for the expected arrival of 114 private jets, according to Giornale Di Sicilia. The influx of private jets, private yachts, helicopters, sports cars and limousines seems in stark contrast to the theme of the conference.
Meanwhile, for the UN Summit on climate in New York, a 16-year-old Swedish girl is making news for her refusal to fly commercial to the event because of the carbon emissions. Instead, the teenager will take a two week trip to New York City aboard a solar powered racing yacht. The tricked out yacht is a sustainable method of transportation — so long as the Earth sustains a 1:1 ratio of billionaires funding electric yachts for hitch hikers to people wanting to travel from Europe to the United States. And the boat travel is super convenient so long as your work allots you four weeks of extra PTO to drift aimlessly through the ocean.
The teen’s extreme commitment to climate change would be admirable, if it wasn’t so stupid and vain. If she truly was concerned about finding an eco-friendly way to participate in a conference in 2019, she’d just teleconference in like a normal person. In a world with Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp, a person who only cared about the environment would opt to push a button on their phone rather than spend two weeks floating in the middle of the ocean surrounded by nothing but saltwater and whale piss.
But while the transport hypocrisy is fun to mock, it is indicative of a bigger problem with these conferences — they come off as a group of rich people, with incredibly high standards of living, telling poor people to lower their already low standard of living for the sake of climate change.
Fossil fuels, which propelled economic progress across the globe like nothing before them, are routinely demonized in speeches. Large vehicles like trucks are scorned, because the rich don’t need them (it doesn’t count when the landscaper comes to their Brentwood houses in a pickup, or when a semi delivers their Amazon package to their door — that’s not “their” truck). To them, as soon as the plugin for a Tesla is installed in their house, it’s time to start putting a carbon tax on gasoline (but not electricity).
The irony is that the way to solve climate change might be right under these people’s stuck up noses. Rather than spending so much time telling people to take the bus, stop eating meat, and install solar panels on their dog, the best solution to solving global warming might be innovation. These elites arriving in private planes and yachts should not spend their time telling ordinary people how to live their lives, but they should instead just pay the people who engineered their toys to develop the tools we need to mitigate climate change in the future.
It’s not productive to scold billions of people for using the fuels and machinery which made the 21st century possible — and made summit attendees rich. Instead, we need to use those existing tools, including to the extent necessary, fossil fuels, to make sure that all the minds across the globe have the tools they need to develop the technology of the future — and hopefully that technology will bring us clean energy, mitigate the effects of warming, or even remove greenhouse gases from the sky. Technology has to be the answer, because the answer can’t be that everyone starts traversing the ocean in a solar powered boogie board.