A jet of Air Asia bearing the image of Taylor Swift

Do my actions matter when Taylor Swift jets around world?

Do my actions to reduce, reuse, and recycle to save the planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world?

The latest Climate of Joy Podcast episode asks the question: “Do steps I take to save the planet, like reusing my grocery bags and reducing my carbon footprint, matter when celebrities like Taylor Swift jet around the world in their private airplanes?”

The podcast transcript is posted below:

I have been busy the last couple of months. I’m now a grandmother of a beautiful little boy. I’ve also been busy watching the climate news, which unfortunately isn’t as happy as my personal news.  I’ve been wondering, too, if there is a point in continuing the Climate of Joy conversation? So I’ve been considering the options while also becoming a certified Emotion Code Practitioner and starting the process of becoming a certified Body Code Practitioner.

I want to give a shout out to Pat and Leslie, who were my companions on a brisk walk recently.  I’m part of a brisk walkers group that gets together on Friday mornings. I have to confess that last Friday morning, I really didn’t feel like going on the brisk walk. The weather was okay, but I’d had a busy week. It felt like it was going to be hard to carry on a superficial conversation. Which sometimes happens on these walks, which is  fine most of the time, but that Friday I didn’t feel like it.

An Unexpected Gift

Instead, I got given the gift of walking with two wonderful women, Pat and Leslie.  Pat started off the conversation asking me, first of all, about my my writing.  Some of you may know that I’m an author of two books. My first published book is about Canadian indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. Morrisseau started his very significant career in the community of Red Lake, Ontario, where I lived for over 20 years. Back in 2008 the local heritage center invited/contracted me to write a book about his roots. “Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists: The Red Lake Years” is about the early years of his painting career. Then in 2015 I self-published a book called Unfreezing Ourselves. I talk about reasons to take action on climate change for the sake of our health, our children and the planet.

Pat, Leslie and I went on to discuss climate change in general. I really appreciated the points of view that Pat and Leslie expressed. So much so that the conversation got me inspired to record this podcast episode. The question that Pat posed is, “what’s the point of all of the personal changes that we make and that we are encouraged to make around climate change specifically, but environmentalism in general, when Taylor Swift is flying her private jet around the world?”

She pointed out that she and I may be taking our reusable shopping bags when I go grocery shopping, but Taylor Swift is flying from Tokyo to the Super Bowl and back again. And that’s only only one trip! Do our actions to save the planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world? I thought it was a great question.

Do my actions matter when Taylor Swift jets around world?

What is the point of making personal changes? And should that be our focus in a Climate Emergency?  The time for taking action to to alleviate the worst consequences of climate destabilization and ocean acidification is still within our grasp.  Don’t listen to the naysayers that say otherwise!

But still, what’s the point? From my perspective, the reason we take personal action on climate change, on plastic pollution, on – you name it – the a plethora of environmental issues that are inviting our personal response, is so that we can live authentically.  If I am concerned about climate change, but I drive my gas guzzler to the store that’s five blocks away almost every day, then is that living in congruence with my values? No, absolutely not.

Does Taylor Swift’s jet produce much more carbon pollution, climate change pollution, than my driving five blocks to the store?Absolutely, it does. And we’ll take on the personal jetting around in a few minutes.  But is it authentic for me to drive my fossil fueled car everywhere? Absolutely not.  And for another thing, as I underscore in Unfreeze Yourself, it’s better for our health to be taking more climate-friendly action.  Because we walk to the store, we get more exercise, we get fresh air, and we put out fewer carbon emissions.

My bone to pick with some of my fellow climate activists, bless them,  is that it’s really easy to slip into judgment of other people who are not doing as much as we are, including Ms. Swift. But that is a trap. We need to mind our own business, We need to be authentic to our own values. And that, I believe, inspires other people to live with congruency and thoughtfulness.

A lot of what is going on with pollution is just carelessness. People who haven’t thought about it, who haven’t been invited to think about it.

Guilt and Shame?

A week ago, on another walk, somebody mentioned that she and her husband had recently gone away on a trip to Europe and their neighbor had kindly driven them to the ferry terminal in his electric car.  On the way, he challenged them a bit by asking them how they could justify flying anywhere in a time of Climate Emergency.  And she said that was a bit challenging for her, understandably.

I’m curious, I’d really like to hear response from you readers, what you think about doing that sort of thing? On one hand, it’s very kind to drive your neighbor to catch their flight, or in this case, ferry, that was taking them to their transatlantic flight. But is it also kind to say, “why are you traveling and maybe you should feel guilty about it?” I’m not sure. That’s not my approach because guilt never inspired anybody to change anything. Guilt and shame, well, we all have listened to Brené Brown, and we know they’re not not helpful emotions.

As a climate-aware person, I do try, these days (I haven’t always been this careful),  to minimize the guilt that I put on other people (and myself).  We are all doing the best we can. And when we know better, we can do better. So consider that the invitation; invite people to know better.

Inspiring Change

In the conversation that I had with Pat and Leslie, it really was a great exchange of information. They gave me their point of view, Pat in particular. She is the one who said “Do my actions to save the planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world?” I really appreciated that honesty.

I also appreciated what Leslie brought into the conversation. She in fact was involved in a very significant citizen action in Ontario, probably over a decade ago now, having to do with the provincial government insisting on putting gas plants in a place where there hadn’t been an adequate environmental assessment. The whole thing didn’t really pass the smell test. But having made that decision, the provincial government started to implement it.

That was when a group of local citizens got together. Leslie was one of them. They had an initial conversation about: can we oppose these gas plants? As she related, some people had given up. They felt that it was a done deal. The provincial government, they argued, has decided so there’s no point in opposing it. Sound familiar, as a climate activist? But some others said, it may go ahead, but I want to do whatever I can to make a difference. And in fact, this group of citizens made a huge difference and the gas plant plans were cancelled. Not only that, the whole thing became a big scandal for the provincial government.

It was inspiring to hear that story and be reminded, we all have agency. Let’s remind ourselves of that when it feels like our actions to save the planet don’t matter because Taylor Swift and her like jet around world. We all can make a difference. We don’t know until we try how much of a difference that we can make. And when we go in with that attitude, that it may not make a difference, but I’m going to show up and do what I can, that is a real gift. A gift you give yourself, and a gift you give other people who are working on the issue. Also a gift to the world.

And in Leslie’s example, it made a huge difference. The Ontario provincial government ended up not only cancelling that gas plant, but also committing to phasing out gas in general, in the very large province of Ontario.

You can make a difference

So, do my, or your, actions to save the planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world?

I want to encourage you. If it feels like things are just too much to even begin to tackle one thing, maybe shrink it down and  focus on the one thing that you can do. And that one thing is probably not changing Taylor Swift’s personal flying habits. But you could have a conversation with your next door neighbor about how concerned about climate change you are. Or talk with your family or with your friends. Or your political representatives, locally or federally.

There’s always things you can do. For example, you could write a letter to the editor. These days, I know fewer and fewer local newspapers are out there, but there are opportunities. So you can think of doing that.

And what about Taylor Swift and her carbon-heavy habits? I’m curious to know what you listeners think. My response is that it really is none of my business. I don’t have any sway over Taylor Swift. Although I did just watch the Netflix documentary about Taylor Swift and was impressed with the way she decided to take action and use her voice. Despite that fact that almost everybody around her, back in 2018, was telling her to keep her mouth shut. They were telling her that she was a performer and she had no business speaking out. At that point, it was against Trump and the local Republican who was a Trump Republican who was running in Tennessee, her home state.

If you haven’t watched the Netflix documentary and you want to learn a bit more about Swift, I recommend it. (I have to confess, I am so out of the loop. I couldn’t even name even one of her songs before watching it. Although having watched the documentary, I realized I have heard them. I just didn’t know that they were Taylor Swift songs!)

That was a very long and rambling way of saying, if you have influence with Ms. Swift, if you are a follower of hers on Instagram or on Twitter/X,  or if you know somebody who works for her, absolutely have a conversation about climate change. Just remember that Ms. Swift’s emissions are not the cause of the Climate Emergency! If she stopped flying right now, that would not be the end of the Climate Emergency.  It is baked into the way we do things in our society, in our economy. Because oil and gas is the backbone of the world economy. Although that is changing, but with that industry kicking and screaming all the way!

We still subsidize them to the tune of trillions of dollars a year globally. They get our hard-earned money. Which is galling isn’t it? They’re causing climate change, and if we have a gas guzzling car we pay them to fuel up. And then we pay them with our tax dollars because our government subsidizes them. Luckily I heard this is a bit of good news recently:

Good Climate News

Under the heading of great news and local to me, the district of Saanich, which is very close to where I live, has taken a step to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the effects of climate change and to make them pay for their part of it. Just this last week, the Saanich City Council unanimously accepted a staff recommendation to begin the process of exploring a potential class action lawsuit with other municipalities. Isn’t that awesome? I will post a link to the Capital Daily News article about this.

Does saving planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world? Absolutely! Things are changing. This is a really incredible time to be alive and to be part of this change. Don’t lose hope. We can’t predict what’s going to happen, so hang in there!

Thanks for listening! In the next episode which is going to be dropped in two weeks I’m going to explore the crazy idea that climate friendly cities  (another word for it is 15 minute cities) where everything is walkable and really easy to reach for people has been blown into up into a crazy conspiracy. Apparently making cities more people-friendly now means that governments are out to block us in, and keep us prisoner! In the next Climate of Joy podcast episode, that’s what we’re going to chat about.

We’re going to conclude with, what brings you joy today? For me, all week we’ve been dog sitting for our doggy “nephew” and “niece”. It’s been so much fun to have all of that very joyful, energetic and playful energy around in our house. And also, I’m thankful that we’re back down to our one little Frenchie Spaniel cross Gemmy.

I’m wishing you tons of joy as well. Remember that the answer to the question, ‘Do my actions to save the planet matter when Taylor Swift jets around world? is a resounding yes!

If you like, think about one thing you’re grateful for and say thank you to the universe for that.  Until next time, remember to be kind to each other. Remember, we are all just walking each other home.

PS  If you are ready for more peace and healing in your life, even in the Climate Emergency, head over to climateofjoy.com and sign up to join the free healing circle that I offer online on the first Saturday of every month.


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