Read the full story in Vox.
One of the perennial debates in environmentalism, which has transferred over to the climate change discussion, is what role personal choices play in the grand scheme of things. Can consumer decisions play a substantial role in reducing emissions? Are people who are concerned about global warming obliged to reduce their own carbon footprint? Is emitting carbon a personal sin (so to speak) as well as a social one?
I have always been a skeptic about the role of personal choices in the climate fight, and a recent study has helped crystallize why. To put it in a nutshell: One’s environmental impact is primarily determined by structural features of one’s life circumstances, especially socioeconomic status.
Or to put it more bluntly: Rich people emit more carbon, even when they recycle and buy canvas tote bags full of organic veggies.