"Although Hillman has not flown for more than 20 years as part of a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions, he is now scornful of individual action which he describes as “as good as futile”. By the same logic, says Hillman, national action is also irrelevant “because Britain’s contribution is minute. Even if the government were to go to zero carbon it would make almost no difference.”
Instead, says Hillman, the world’s population must globally move to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes – every aspect of our economy – and reduce our human population too. Can it be done without a collapse of civilisation? “I don’t think so,” says Hillman. “Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying? Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan? Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families?”
Sadly, I think he's right about our global future but I disagree with him on the importance of individual action, because we can't avoid our responsibility to ourselves. I think all of us very definitely will benefit from personally making an effort because we will be able to look back on our own contribution and efforts and be happy with how we responded. Climate change is a global catastrophe but it's also a personal challenge. I haven't flown for a decade, I don't own a car and I only eaten small amounts of animal protein but I know I could do more. My actions matter on a personal level to me because I am going to hate myself in the future if I think I didn't make an effort.
A colleague once said to me 'what's the point of limiting one's carbon footprint, there's seven billion people on this planet, it makes no difference!' I replied, 'so it's okay then if I kill you?' He was shocked and said 'no, of course not!' I replied that according to his logic, he's only one of seven billion people, so it's irrelevant if I kill him or not.' This example shows that individual actions are very important on a personal, moral level. We need to do the right thing personally to be a person we're proud of being.
Here's the video: