After weeks of being lectured and chastised by celebrities and activists about how everything you do is bad for the planet, these very same eco-warriors are going about churning out far more pollutants than you do.
According to a new study from Stefan Gossling of Lund University, celebrities emit 10,000 more CO2 than the average person, thanks in part to their jet-setting lifestyle, a bit of which is flying to and from places to preach at you about the oncoming climate crisis:
This highlights the insane disparity in carbon emissions between the rich and the poor. In 2018, an average human emitted less than five tonnes of CO₂ overall. But this hides vast differences in individual contributions. In the case of air travel – the most energy-intensive human activity, no other human activity consumes as much energy in such a short time – the global average is 115kg CO₂ per person per year. Yet the vast majority of humanity never fly. This average is created by the staggering emissions of the richest proportion of humanity. I calculated that Bill Gates, for example, causes at least 1,600 tonnes of CO₂ to be emitted into the atmosphere – and this is from flying alone.
Of course, it’s not only celebrities who are the problem. Recently published figures reveal that 1% of English residents are responsible for nearly one-fifth of all flights abroad. Nearly half (48%) of the population, meanwhile, did not take a single overseas flight in 2018.
Gossling notes that he’s done this with ten different celebrities, and calculated how much carbon they emitted by going through their social media feeds. He warns that these are just flights he found they took and may not be an accurate number as the celebrities may not even always tell us when they’re traveling somewhere:
The jet-setting habits of Bill Gates and Paris Hilton mean that they produce an astonishing 10,000 times more carbon emissions from flying than the average person. This was the conclusion of my research mining their social media accounts (tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts) as well as those of a number of other celebrities for clues as to where they were in the world over the course of 2017 and how they got there. As such, this estimate is conservative – they may well have taken more flights and not volunteered the information to their millions of followers.
While this number is staggering, it’s not surprising. We’ve watched as celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Gates, and Al Gore make a show of being environmentally conscious and fighting for the planet, then turn around and hypocritically burn CO2 as they fly off into the sunset on their private jets.
In the end, the people who are leaving the largest “carbon footprint” are the people shaming you about yours.