Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton flies 200 times/yr by private jet, goes vegan to save the planet, then lectures leaders who “don’t care about the environment” – is climate dialogue possible when no one considers that crazy?
It seems inevitable that we are headed for some sort of serious conflict here in the west with regards to climate change. Armies of Extinction Rebellioners now take the law into their own hands in order to force governments to act. On the other side of the fence are 7 billion people that frankly aren’t all that interested in making significant changes to their lifestyle, unless you’re talking about making it more decadent – quite a few of those 7 billion are up for that. In general though the fear of climate change is like the fear of obesity – no one wants it, but hmm, there it is. Everywhere. We know we need to keep our weight under control or we’ll die sooner, but have you ever tried pizza?
This contradiction grows ever bigger, and just when you thought you’ve seen the peak of insanity, nope, along comes something even more stupefying.
Out of the wild blue yonder comes a dizzying claim of self-sacrifice, a bizarre statement from a young motorsports legend who has come to the conclusion that the climate is in critical danger, and that immediate action is required. Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 star and 6 times world champion, is worried sick about climate change.
Hamilton opened up recently about his fear for the health of the planet. The racer ‘described the world as a “messed up place” with leaders who are “either uneducated or don’t care about the environment at all”.’
Before analyzing Hamilton and his diamond-studded outburst, let’s consider this conundrum of our times. When faced with a universal media onslaught about how the planet is in grave danger unless we reduce CO2 emissions, most agree and demand action. Yet the very people that are responsible for all the consumption (which creates the footprint) display a stunning lack of understanding about where they fit in the big scheme of things. The problem isn’t new; as long as there’s been social issues, there have always been people pointing at others and saying “they’re the problem.”
With climate change, the problem becomes cartoonish, because people are almost unfailingly clueless as to their own footprint. Lewis Hamilton is not stupid, I don’t think, yet he sees his contribution to fighting climate change – giving up meat – as offsetting every other self-centered, energy-intensive facet of the life he leads. And here’s the staggering part: Hamilton flies an estimated 200 days per year, by private jet. His garage includes a fleet of exotic cars, and for crying out loud he drives a Formula 1 car in pointless circles year after year in one of the most flamboyantly wasteful displays of energy the world can imagine. He does this in more than 20 countries in a single season. A Formula 1 race is a celebration of excess, waste, extravagance, and living a life with a crushingly huge environmental footprint. The Formula 1 circus is the very definition of flagrant environmental footprints.
And in the midst we have motor racing’s crown prince tearing a strip off others for not caring about the planet. (To be fair, Hamilton did apparently sell his private jet. Not stop using them of course, don’t be a fool.)
How can anyone expect average citizens to act in a manner that remotely dents global emissions when a smart, wildly successful young man like Hamilton is so confused about the issue that he sees it this simplistically?
We know what the average citizen thinks. In developing countries, they are worried about finding fuel, clean water, and food for tomorrow. Here in the west, we hear very clearly that people are concerned about climate change – yet no one wants to do anything material to reduce it. Americans say they are gravely concerned, but only a third are willing to pay an extra hundred dollars a year in tax to do anything about it. Canadians are of the same mind; yes, terribly concerned, but it’ll cost me a hundred bucks a year? Get out of my face.
A growing chorus of rational people are demanding a truce, a realization that a forceful rewiring of the world from fossil fuels to anything else is not going to happen in the near future. No one has provided a credible path to do so, and any political-type projections saying they can fall apart at the slightest scrutiny.
But the fire has been stoked to dangerous levels, and now even children believe that they have no future unless global emissions are slashed. We have created a fascinating conundrum that, on its current trajectory, is going to result in some very unpleasant fireworks. When a Formula 1 driver, who lives a life so exotic and wasteful that it defies comprehension, can lecture the world on how it needs to act, we have reached a point of discourse that is detached from reality. Good luck to all, this is going to get weird.
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