Is EVERYTHING Related to Climate Change?

I don’t want to seem obsessed with a single issue, so I keep trying to come up with topics that have absolutely no relationship with climate change.   But I can’t seem to find any.

The fact is that energy is such an integral part of our economy that almost all activities connect one way or another with energy use and hence (in a carbon-based economy) with climate change.  Here are some examples chosen more or less at random:

Women’s fashions. Because fashions change, women  buy more clothes than they would otherwise need.  That means producing more fabric, processing it and shipping it — all of which takes energy. Not to mention the advertising.

Divorce. Divorce splits households.  Smaller households are less energy efficient (the ratio of surface are for losing or gaining heat to volume is less favorable).  So divorce is bad for the planet.

Organized sports. Large numbers of people taking otherwise unnecessary trips to stadiums, often in cars.  Need I say more?

Writing a blog. Sadly, this adds to internet usage, which takes more energy than you probably think.

Of course, these are relatively small effects — but the whole point is that small effects add up.


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Reader Comments

7 Replies to “Is EVERYTHING Related to Climate Change?”

  1. Dan Farber has laid down the challenge — can anyone come up with a good example of something that is entirely unrelated to climate change?

  2. Steve, it’s hard to imagine any “something” that involves humans that is entirely unrelated to climate change, based on the parameters Dan has set. As Dan noted, anything that humans do that consumes energy (either fueled by burning of carbon, or by a process that avoids burning of carbon) relates to greenhouse gas consumption/reduction. Our very existence, based on eating carbon-based life forms generally produced through agricultural processes, relates to climate change by this standard.

    But I can think of some possible examples that don’t involve humans. How about geologic processes relating to plate tectonics? Mountain formation, earthquakes, etc. (though there is a relationship between some volcanic eruptions and our climate and weather).

  3. It’s important not to forget that people cause environmental problems in ways other than by contributing to climate change. We’ve still got good old-fashioned environmental problems, like uncontrolled run-off from farm fields, habitat conversion from new development, and excessive diversion from rivers. It may be that all of those things are “related” to climate change in the sense that the environmental stresses they cause become worse when added to the stresses of climate change. But they would need to be addressed even if we didn’t have a climate change problem, and they won’t go away if we manage to get an effective GHG policy.

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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