Dear Brat, Stop The Hypocrisy On Delhi's Pollution Problem
Choking from the air and the hypocrisy
NEW DELHI: Every time I just about settle into life in Delhi (which involves keeping myself busy with work, TV shows and a brown tom-cat that seems to have taken to me and forgetting everything that made up this previous article and the reaction it elicited), something happens that shatters my carefully cultivated bubble.
Most recently, this something was the news that toxic levels of pollution were recorded in Delhi. Not surprising. It’s as if a grey smog coloured hazy Instagram filter was applied all over the city. My eyes stung; I had difficulty breathing… Oh Delhi, yet another reason to hate you. What irked me the most, however, was not the news itself -- heck, anyone living in Delhi should know that it’s without doubt the most polluted city in the world -- but the reaction to the news.
Overnight, my well-intentioned Facebook friends became climate change activists. Articles were being shared about what pollution and climate change are doing to this world. Pledges were taken to make Delhi’s air cleaner. Petitions were started, calling on the Delhi government to do something. “Delhi is a gas chamber” was the consensus. “We must do something,” they tweeted hashtagging #DelhiPollution or something equally trite. The purpose was clear: “I care about Delhi’s pollution. I am sharing an article I just about skimmed through as proof. I’m not going to do much more than that, but I will stay seated on my high-horse.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I am firmly aware that Delhi has a problem. My problem is this: The spoilt Dilli brat -- who unfortunately or fortunately dominated my Facebook newsfeed -- took the opportunity to project themselves as someone who gives a sh*t. Not let me demonstrate why this is so hypocritical.
These overnight pollution (social media) activists who care so much about Delhi’s choking air, would rather die in it than use public transport (which is THE most environmentally friendly way to travel in this city). Heck, they may say that they’re willing to “car pool” to work or one of their nightly parties, but I am willing to bet that they’ll readily send their chauffeur driven car from one end of the city to another without thinking twice of their carbon footprint (wait, do they know what a carbon footprint even is?). Let’s be real, the reason why several of these people can pretend to support the Delhi government’s alternate car rule is because they have several cars at home, and it’s going to make little to no difference to their lives.
These are the same people who will grumble every time there is a powercut -- perfectly oblivious to the hugely inefficient thermal power plants that are providing our cities with electricity. Worse, they’ll use their AC or heating even when they don’t really need to, just because they can. They’ll advocate the use of renewable energy sources on Facebook, but try suggesting that they could instal solar panels at home as a start -- the look you get will prove my point in its entirety.
They’ll share an article on rising pollution levels using one Chrome tab, and purchase a business class ticket to Europe on the other. Economy class, for the record, is the most environmentally-friendly way to travel… It’s far less the carbon footprint than business or first because of the ratio of space accorded to a single traveller.
These kids will turn dinner table conversations into a plea for the environment, while digging into a juicy lamb burger at a fancy restaurant. Red meat production by the way is one of the biggest causes of climate change. In addition to using 28 times more land and 11 times the water that poultry cultivation does, red meat causes more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry.
After eating only half of that burger they ordered, they’ll proceed to order another dish and then desert, taking just a few bites out of each. They’ll maintain that wasting food is problematic, but continue to do it anyway. Their reason for not wanting to waste food will be: “poor children are starving,” even though food wastage has no bearing on whether that starving child gets to eat, especially in a food-sufficient economy like India. They don’t even know that food wastage actually contributes to a huge release of methane, occupying a significant chunk of land fills and adding methane to the atmosphere as it decomposes.
These climate change champions will like a post about Delhi’s polluted air, without realising that the Macbook that they are using burns the same amount of carbon as driving 2000 km. In fact, most consumer goods have a carbon footprint attached to them… and yet, my Facebook climate critics have made no effort in their personal lives to understand how any of this works, or think about possible solutions that apply to the everyday. One simple solution in reference to consumer goods is to RECYCLE. Recycling products ends up reducing the number of items in a landfill -- you know, that decomposing methane emitting source of pollution? Do any of the people who have shared a Delhi pollution article in the last few weeks made a conscious effort to recycle? I think not.
Did any of these Facebook climate change activists follow the developments at the Paris Climate Conference? Do they even know what roadblocks exist in arriving at a climate change treaty (including India’s political position and resistance)? I think not.
Now there may be a handful of genuinely aware and proactive people on my Facebook friendlist who have every right to disagree with the above sentiment … but for the majority of Delhi’s brats, just shut up! Put your cribbing into action before you expect me to take you seriously. Thanks and goodbye.