Is it more effective to reduce your personal carbon footprint or focus on collective action?

There might not be a question that divides the #climate community more.

Let's talk about why that's the wrong question and ultimately a distraction.

In the last few years there have been some great stories about Big Oil's "carbon footprint sham"

Like this story by @SkepticalRanger -…

And this one by @katemyoder -…
The takeaway: fossil fuel companies like BP invented and promoted the concept of a carbon footprint.


To distract the public and shift the blame away from them and towards the individual.
And then there's stories like this one by @mrmatthewtaylor and @jonathanwatts -…

They show that a massive amount of emissions come from a tiny number of companies.
Reporting like this is incredibly valuable and insightful.

But unfortunately it gets misinterpreted and misused by some people.

The takeaway from these stories shouldn't be "Thinking about your own impact on our planet is dumb and pointless."
It should be that focusing on your own "carbon purity" isn't enough.

Your action can't stop at recycling, riding a bike, and buying solar panels.

(And, of course, that fossil fuel companies are even more evil than you think).
The point is that we need people to do all those things..


We need them to show up to the rally, put pressure on legislators — heck, BE legislators — and demand climate policy and regulation.
In a recent AMA @ezra shared how he thinks about this personal/collective tension in regards to being a vegan.

He said personal action is important in that each individual has the power to "infect" others around them.

We're all contagious.…
I've seen this first hand in my life.

I became a vegan because my girlfriend at the time did. She infected me.

Then I infected my Mom, who became vegetarian. And she infected my Dad.
.@ezra also makes the point that all of these small behavior changes are the precursor to policy change.

In a democracy it's difficult to pass policy without first having a culture that supports the underlying ideas and goals behind it.
The development of rooftop solar was a good example of this.

You could argue that the people that paid crazy high prices for their solar panels weren't making a big impact.

They only cut 5-10 tons of emission per year.
But in addition to creating demand that reduced prices for the next buyers, they were also society's guinea pigs.

They proved that our grid could handle net-metering.

And after that dozens of states had the confidence to pass policies encouraging more adoption of solar.
Imagine if all those early pioneers had thrown up their hands and said, "Ah what's the point of these 5-10 tons per year?"

Instead many of them installed solar AND advocated for policy to help others get it too.
Individual and collective action are two sides of the same coin. They go hand-in-hand.

We need BOTH.
Curious what others in the #energytwitter community think about this!

How do you think about the tension between individual and collective action?

What are you doing to integrate both into your life?

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More from @curious_founder

19 Oct
In the last year heat pumps have been getting more popular.

But most people still have no idea what heck they are or why they are such an important climate solution.

So here's a thread on why heat pumps are so important for meeting our climate goals

First, it's important to understand the scale of the problem heat pumps solve.

Today the energy we use in our homes is responsible for 20% of emissions in America.

That's a billion tons per year!

If our homes were a country, they'd rank 4th in annual emissions just behind India and ahead of Russia.


Read 18 tweets

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