“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr
These profound words succinctly sum up what arguably has been the wildest week yet in royal news. The chatter was about carbon footprints but what also emerged were the footprints of some admirable giants and some spiteful henchmen. The manic and deliberately one-sided criticism of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was so sickening and so malicious that it elicited a response from Sir Elton John, Ellen Degeneres, and several others across the spectrum denouncing the biased, relentless, and dangerous hounding of this couple, and adding their voices to the call for sanity and fairness in the couple’s treatment by the British media.
It was reassuring to see this heterogenous group of giants, standing tall and firmly placing their footprints in the court of human decency. Simply, the British media’s treatment of the Sussexes is bullying and is unequivocally calculated to a malicious end. It is excessive and the public acknowledges that. For clarity, the Sussexes are not the only royals who fly privately, all of them do. They are also not the only ones who are vocal about environment issues. But here were are having the most dishonest and disingenuous conversation about carbon footprint with overnight environmental “experts”. Since that is the topic du jour, let’s take a closer look.
All human activity is associated with Greenhouse Gas(GHG) emissions. Some more than others. From the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the household supplies we use, how we source our food to how we earn a living. Development, technological advancements and conveniences that have eased our daily lives play no small part. The fact that human activity is adversely impacting the environment doesn’t mean we all standstill, but that we evolve and shift our methods to ones that more sustainably support the longevity of our environment. The damage that the media and its orchestrators do with such selective and feigned outrage is to debase a very important conversation, a complex one, whose answers impact us all, believer or not. There isn’t a one size fits all solution but rather, a collective of different measures that are situation and subject-dependent. To illustrate, let’s consider the annual calendar of engagements for the royal family.
By the sheer volume and scope of it, even the non-air travel has a significant carbon footprint because of the emissions from all the petroleum-burning vehicles in their convoys. The convoys are necessary to transport the principals, attending staff and security personnel. On that score, one might propose the replacement of the royal fleet with greener options like hybrid or all electric vehicles, assuming that isn’t already the case. Even in that instance, the switch may not necessarily be a greener (producing less emissions) choice for two reasons: a) When considering the life cycle assessments, production of hybrids and electric vehicles have a higher carbon footprint compared to conventional cars, owing to the resource-intensive nature of battery production. b) In the use phase, provided the electric vehicle is recharged using renewable sources of energy, then it edges out a conventional vehicle in efficiency.
However, if the source of electric power is mainly fossil fuel-based, then all told, it winds up with a bigger carbon footprint than a conventional vehicle. The point of this illustration is that, there are real challenges with emissions and the current alternatives while great, are not always optimal or foolproof for every scenario and that on balance, several considerations must be made. That doesn’t preclude us from exploring ways to reduce or at worst balance the environmental impacts of our participation in this industrialized world. The options are varied and their suitability depends on the context.
Some would argue that if only the Sussexes took commercial flights, their environmental impact will be less. True, but that assumes that for every flight they take for work or otherwise; having taken logistics and security concerns into account, a commercial flight is always the most expedient choice. If anyone believes that, then they are being willfully obtuse. The stark reality is that, for some reason that critics have yet to successfully articulate,(they swear it’s not racism, xenophobia etc.) they do not see the Duchess of Sussex as worthy or deserving of the respect, consideration or deference they accord other members of the royal family, were similar circumstances applied to them.
Prince Harry has been talking about environmental issues for years far in advance of his meeting Meghan, and during which time he as well as the rest of the family travelled by private jets. There was no outrage or “hypocrisy” then. So why now?
The media’s obsession with this couple, in their constant pursuit, irresponsible and provocative coverage, has posed real security threats to them. If a private jet is deemed the most secure and logistically feasible way to transport the Sussexes(or for that matter any other member of the family) on occasion, then by all means they should do that and take whatever measures are available to lessen the environmental impact. In this material case, they did exactly that by flying with a company that operates at net carbon neutrality. Since staying put is not an option for anyone, unless these critics are proposing we return to the horse and buggy days, then this nonsense must to stop. And if anyone has a platform and is able to shine a light on issues, even if just to start a conversation, then they should.
Those who do not care to listen have the option to do just that. They are not under duress. If this “hypocrisy” standard is that which they wish to uphold, then we should never henceforth, hear of another member of the royal family talking about homelessness or hunger while they live in their luxurious palaces feasting on lavish picnics and dinners.
The objective here is not accountability. It is a sinister plot to make the couple unlikeable. If up till now anyone is still unsure, consider this. In reaction to the unfair criticism on this matter, characteristically, the royal “reporters’ and their abettors dug their heels in, laser focused on their target, to the exclusion of reasonable or productive debate. At first glance it appeared as if they were sloppy, poorly researched and rushed to judgement without the full complement of facts. However, pointing out the crucial carbon offset program of the private jet company did nothing to moderate the debate. The Sussexes have previously flown commercial on vacation and were met by this same press corps’ ridiculous jabs of “riding in coach near the toilets”.
That the couple flew privately appears to be the bee in their bonnet, not the carbon emissions or a substantive discussion therefore. These “reporters” are not stupid or illiterate. Just crafty. That they were able to find out the jet company and emissions estimates but somehow missed the carbon offsets is by design. They are hired hands. Their mission/directive is to find something, just anything to elevate to crisis level and doing just that. They have said as much. See a screenshot of the response of a “reporter” to a twitter user’s inquiry of her caustic coverage of the Duchess of Sussex.
This unbelievable response buttresses the point that they are hired guns. Granted, some people in the household may be upset with Meghan for whatever reason, but those shouldn’t be this “reporter’s” gripes. So why is she using her job to litigate the disaffections of family members rather than objectively doing the job of a real journalist? This is about the 3rd such assertion by a royal “reporter”. If it was in doubt, the stunning silence of the royal household, in this instance speaks volumes. It appears that elements within the royal household have indelibly placed their footprints squarely in an adversarial camp and let their henchmen loose against their own. I dare say, their footprints are misplaced. Their age old mantra now rings hollow. We know they complain (legal threats) and they explain. They have somehow found it more prudent to issue the most appalling (pun intended) statement in defense of a man who has maintained questionable links with a convicted sex offender. That is where they have drawn the line. The world has taken notice and history will judge them unfavorably.
Until aviation evolves to a point where there planes are completely powered by non-GHG- emitting fuels, humans who care to blunt their aviation-related carbon footprint can utilize carbon offset programs which by the way are not restricted to only those who fly in private jets. All commercial airline seats come with a carbon footprint that can be offset through programs offered by various airlines if one so chooses.
Hopefully when these propaganda hacks get on the train, or bus or the next flight to South-Africa to cover the Sussexes tour, they will consider offsetting their carbon footprint, now that they have become so “knowledgeable” about it. In the meantime if you would like to know how your lifestyle impacts the environment and what changes if any, are within your capability, calculate your carbon footprint here or here or google carbon footprint calculator and pick one of your choice. Every little bit counts.
*The writer and this publication are not affiliated in any way with the calculators linked, nor does their linkage constitute an endorsement.