Origin of Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint. You know the term, right? But do you know where it originated?

The fossil fuel industry.

Yup. In the early aughts, oil giant BP hired the ad wizards at Ogilvy & Mather to promote the idea that climate change was not the fault of the fossil fuel industry but was the fault of individuals.

In other words … YOUR FAULT.

By 2004, BP was promoting and popularizing the idea of the “carbon footprint.”

Before long there were carbon calculators everywhere to help you lower your carbon footprint, many of which were made by big environmental groups, government agencies, and well-known media outlets. As a result, people all around the world began frantically trying to reduce their carbon footprint … and feeling they were to blame.

Benjamin Franta of Stanford Law School called it: “One of the most successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever.”

In reality, the fossil fuel companies are to blame. THEY are the ones drilling and mining for more coal, oil, and gas, even though we can’t burn what they’ve already pulled from the ground.

THEY are the ones making and breaking climate pledges.

THEY are the ones paying politicians to keep them in business.

THEY are the ones lying to us.

So, sure, do what you can to lower your carbon footprint, but don’t for a second forget who coined the term. What we really need to do is to radically uproot the fossil fuel system and transition to a renewable, regenerative, and just system of generating power. Only then do we have a chance.

Now, to this week’s tweets and posts. Please retweet and share as many as you can. 

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Thanks again for all that you do. 

Joel Bach, Director, ITM.EARTH

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