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Extreme or Extreme Reality?

Kumi Naidoo

I was recently reading this interview with Kumi Naidoo, who is the Greenpeace's Executive Director, about climate change and its link to human rights. Basically, the interview said that many people find the idea of giving up flying as too extreme of a measure for environmental protection. Globalisation has made air travel a necessity despite the carbon footprint it produces. 

I got me thinking: what is too extreme? I know I wouldn't be able to give up flying so we tell ourselves that it's too extreme of a measure, even for environmental activists. Not using air travel today seems inefficient or downright stupid. But how far should people be able to go in order to make a change in something like the environment?

I feel like this applies to so many things and that the concept of 'extremity' is a really subjective notion. To disregard something just because it's widely felt to be irrational doesn't mean that it actually is. I mean, some people queue up for days waiting to countdown in Times Square, for Justin Biebs concert tickets, the release of fucking video games. In these cases, some might find it completely irrational while others couldn't feel more differently about it. 

What do you guys think? Excerpt from the interview below: 

AJE: During COP19 climate talks in Warsaw Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin talked about using the train to get to Warsaw from the UK and how they hadn’t flown in eight years. Giving up flying is the kind of thing that a lot of people might not consider but they were saying it’s something that has to be done, saying we can’t have people flying and even taking showers daily and things like this. They were calling for some extreme measures.

Kumi Naidoo: Listen, the situation we are facing right now is extremely extreme. Let’s be blunt about it, right? What is today being labeled “extreme measures," if we don’t act now, even lots of things that we take for granted, like clean running water - but bear in mind almost 1.5 billion people in the world don’t have access to that. People like myself have been saying for more than a decade now sadly, if we don’t address the issues of conflict equity, climate change and poverty on the planet, the future wars will not be fought about oil but will be fought about water.

You have got to look everything that helps brings down carbon and brings down the harm and so yes, reducing air travel, reducing water consumption, food consumption that contributes to high emissions, thinking about how far your food travels to get to your plate, thinking about what you eat, limiting meat intake… So in that sense I don’t see any of these ideas as extreme. I see the situation that we find ourselves in is extremely scary. Go speak to the people in the Philippines.

I don’t think those ideas are outlandish or should be dismissed. I think those are ideas that will be part of an overall solution ultimately.