How the Rich REALLY Cause Climate Change

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In this Our Changing Climate climate change video essay, I look at how the rich really cause climate change. Specifically, I look at how the focus on the richest people in the world’s consumption habits (i.e. our obsession with Taylor Swift’s jet emissions) distracts us from how they make their money in the first place. It is through their control and power over production that the rich drive emissions through the roof in pursuit of profits. In order to understand the climate crisis, in order to understand what’s driving the climate crisis, we need to look beyond individual footprints and toward the point of production. It is here where the rampant emissions stem from. At the point of production, a handful of individuals make choices that have dire ramifications for billions and dark consequences for the environment.

This video leaned heavily on Matt Huber’s book Climate Change and Class War, you can check it out here:

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0:00 – Introduction
1:58 – How We Talk About Inequality and Climate Change
4:34 – The Inequality Behind It All
7:03 – How the Rich Really Cause Climate Change
10:50 – The Vicious Cycle
12:51 – Climate Action Without Class
15:02 – Controlling Production
18:02 – Sponsored by Nebula and CuriosityStream

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Certain images and footage courtesy of Getty Images
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#capitalism #socialism #climatechange



  1. ▫What are your thoughts on "carbon footprints." Do you think they're a useful metric?
    ▫Commenting on this video really helps this video reach more people! (let's try to get to 750 comments!)
    ▫Companion video about fossil fuel barons here: You can watch that for free! if you want to watch all of my other bonus content the best way to get access is just by signing up for the Nebula/CuriosityStream bundle for $14.79 a year here:

  2. It would be great to hear your thoughts on integrating carbon tax and social justice…even if it's more a thought exercise for now in the US. Thanks…your videos are always excellent.

  3. The internet was furious with Taylor Swift was just a clickbait thing.
    No one wants to watch a Tik Tok about Jan Jenisch's carbon footprints.

  4. Honestly I ddin't think that the outrage over private jets was bad. Actually it sparked a conversation over outlawing private jets (and so a very polluting industry) in my country and I feel like it goes towards the thinking about production side of the problem. But of course the framing of the issue is not ideal to think about those structural issues first. Great video!

  5. Yes and no. I think mass boycotts and generally not buying stuff we don’t need are key tools in bringing down capitalism.

    And we should absolutely call out the worst offenders who are consuming the most and creating the most demand for polluting products and industries. There’s a balance with this. We really need to get away from this fight between consumption and production. It’s both.

    Certainly we need to have public ownership of pretty much everything. But I don’t see how you get there through political means right now. I only really see us deliberately crashing the economy as a way to get there. That’s the only method that the establishment and the media don’t have control over.

  6. I reeeeeaally like the direction this channel is going. It's a very important perspective to look at the climate crisis, in fact it's the only one we should give a thought.
    Thanks and keep the amazing work up!

  7. Keep in mind that most of those companies are owned by shareholders. So chances are high that the money you are saving for retirement goes into driving climate change.
    Change your bank and retirement plan and profit from solving climate change instead.

  8. You're an amazing writer and narrator, I was hooked for the entire video.

    I bet Hydrocarbon company board members are delighted that we are angered by Taylor Swift and not by their ruthless business practices.

  9. I’ve been saying it’s a group issue… it’s all of us. Exxon mobile (or BP, or or or) wouldn’t have such a large footprint if consumers weren’t demanding products. We wouldn’t demand products if marketing weren’t so effective, and if the suburbs weren’t a thing (creating the need for excessive driving, oil, roads, etc). Marketing wouldn’t be needed if CEOs weren’t pressured to create wealth for investors. Investors wouldn’t be invested if the markets were regulated so that they pay 90% tax on profits earned.

    They’re not gonna stop, and laws won’t change because of briber- excuse me, lobbying… so it seems the obvious answer is that it’s up to us. We’re the key.

    STOP UNNECESSARY CONSUMPTION on all levels. Capitalism is killing us

    Edit: I realize my statement of fact sounds like I’m doing as macron did… I’m not asking people to suffer. I’m asking that we all suffer for a time, to FORCE change in the system designed for capitalism. It needs to be redesigned for all humans, not just the rich. Us “lying flat” (look it up) would force this change. What would you lose? A rat-race of stress to keep up with the Jones’, as designed by corporate marketing to sell you things you don’t actually need in order to make the rich richer, which goes back to my original statement above

  10. Totally. I read and hear this time and again.
    The roots of the climate crisis issue are the fossil fuel companies, the high polluting, high consumer industries and the politicians that are complicit thanks to lobbying and bribery. The blame shouldn't land on individuals as it is a tactic to divert the blame and focus of the root of the cause. Of course we should take our personal measures to reduce impact as everything helps, but that pales in comparison to the impacts of the fossil fuel companies themselves. I have recently been reading 'This Changes Everything' by Naomi Klein which covers some of this.

  11. I have an issue with just "framing emissions to the production" and completely ignoring the consumption part. Sure, the hyper rich making decisions purely based on profits have an order of magnitude more impact. Yet it seems like the video is saying that Taylor Swift's use of a private jet isn't an issue.

    The change needs to come from the production, that's for sure. But if we don't change our consumption as well, it doesn't seems feasible … Even Exxon switch to 100% electricity, and we electrify our means of transports, we can't have celebrities using electric private jets.

    As Aurélien Barreau says, "with an electric bulldozer you can deforest the Amazonian forest" … It's not just changing our production, nor our consumption… I think both go hands in hands.

  12. This is exactly what plastic manufactures did with the recycling logo. Shift the problem to to consumer and its not their fault.

  13. The producers are producing goods to be eventually consumed ri8? So If the consumers stop giving business then the producers will switch gears or new producers will comes up to replace the old.
    I think blame lies will all.

  14. Absolutely right. The problem that no one (except you and others that actually work to understand the problem) will even bring into the discussion of solutions to imminent catastrophe.
    We have to produce less. New technology might prove helpful. Reducing the use of fossil fuels across the board is essential. But the bottom line is that we must produce less, a lot less.
    Of course anyone that understands even basic economics knows that reducing production will collapse the global economic model. Constant growth is not just a symptom of capitalism, it is a necessity for its existence.

  15. Hmmm… this is not quiet true. Taylor Swift and other rich celebrities and entrepreneurs don't really care/think about climate change and only love public attention. For example, Bill Gates, an rich entrepreneur, is starting a more sustainable carbon footprint.

  16. I would say its the mindless consumption of the people that causes climate change, what if the people just reduce their consumption, the rich will automatically focus on making this that last long and are valuable for the masses… But what's been done? Simple and easy way out of blaming the rich…

  17. This is a great video for the people that say we are the problem because we buy the company’s products when the company’s should be making the products safe and as environmentally friendly as possible

  18. So shift the blame to the corporations whom we use their resources to continue living a lifestyle of consumption. News flash, the USA makes up for the 3rd largest emitter of carbon globally as a nation. We have 330 million people whereas India and China together house about 3 billion people. Their massive carbon footprint makes sense…Ours, not so much. Only 15% of the American population lives in poverty, whom quite frankly we can agree are not responsible of climate change in the same way that the other 75% which are described as an average American that lives a life of consumption. You use electricity, that expends energy and carbon, you use natural gas to heat your home, that expends energy and carbon. If you dont want to place blame, vote with your dollars or get off the internet and live a life in the wilderness using only local resources to sustain your life. Oh wait, you won't. We just want to shift blame continuously until the planet burns up and it's inhabitable. It's a collective effort, between corporations AND consumers alike; it's not just one, they respond to use and vice versa in an unrelentless feedback loop. If you're an "average american" you most likely have a car, shelter, get most of your produce imported from other states to reach your suburb or city, and a digital footprint. This by default makes you ONE of the wealthy on the PLANET, not the 1% but wealthy in relation to many who will become climate refugees. You can actively escape a lifestyle that's based on consumerism, you choose not to. Participating in a society that doesn't recognize the importance of the environment is a choice, not a mandate. You can walk away any day, many have, but obviously not enough to make a difference. But if you're not willing to put in the work, are you really in a position to shift blame?

    Sincerely, a person who works at a climate organization focusing on localization efforts globally.

  19. What are your thoughts on the very fast increase in automation of jobs? If less workers are needed in the workplace then this power of the workers will not be as effective. Maybe we need a new solution given the rise of automation that will most llikely replace most workers sooner than we think?

  20. Keep this in mind about the capitalists and the politicians they own. These people are your enemy, they do not care about you, and they're wealth is dependent on you believing a lie.

  21. I‘m always so torn on the issue of combatting climate change. On the one hand, I definitely think we need to hold corporations responsible for their actions in contributing to climate change.
    On the other hand, I am always wary of giving the government too much power to accomplish this goal…
    Communist states have fallen victim to corruption every single time in recorded history, yet implementing a communal system might be the most effective way to combat climate change caused by the consumerism promoted by our capitalist society.

    As with all things though, a healthy middle ground between the obviously flawed capitalist system, and communal ownership of all property, might be the best way to move forward.

  22. I just want to say that those companies contribute enormous amounts toward the democrat party as well. This is why No matter who wins the status quo is maintained. If the USA alone spent half of their military budget on finding a proper solution to oil consumption us as a society would be so much further along. 5 years after putting a great deal of funding toward it I guarantee we have flying cars and the ability for regular people to take a trip to the moon 🤷🏾‍♂️

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