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It is not climate shame we will die of

Is climate responsibility political or private? How much shame should we feel? But the shame everyone is so afraid of, is perhaps exactly what is needed.

Can you fly on a charter trip, say that you like to eat meat and still be credible in the climate change question?

Can you be exactly as you want regarding personal choices regarding the climate? Is it primarily structured that would change, not the individual actions of individuals as an individual should you not feel, for example, flight shame?

But is that how we should see it? There are several researchers who claim the opposite. 

Shame and a catalyst

Few concepts are as ugly as “shame” – we instinctively defend ourselves against it, an important dividing line. It is one thing to feel ashamed of one’s identity. It is completely different to feel ashamed of one’s actions and one’s morals.

There are researchers who claim that shame is a morally productive rather than destructive feeling.
Critical self-reflection is necessary for moral development, says the philosopher Elisa Aaltola in her work “Defensive over Climate Change?”, Because it allows us to identify areas within us that require us to improve – and where shame can act as a catalyst. strikes, we realize that we are not living up to our moral ideals and are given an opportunity to rectify the situation.

There must be acceptance

For political decisions to have legitimacy, there must be a social acceptance of them.  A growing crowd of individuals who change their behaviour is absolutely crucial to that acceptance. In a study in Science 2018, a group of researchers was able to show that a critical threshold was passed when the size of a committed minority reached approximately 25 percent of the population. 

At that time, social habits and conventions changed in a single stroke – we stop abruptly with what we “always” have done and begin to see what we saw as impossible as something completely obvious.

And the notion that it is unproblematic to continue flying on charter is based on a classic modernist notion of human dominance over nature – that there is an aspect of justice that is decoupled from the planetary boundaries.

The climate does not care about justice

The mechanism that only increases the price of carbon emissions benefits the rich. That may very well be the case, but we are in a difficult balancing act if the class question is to trump the climate. For the climate, it does not matter if the decisions we make are political or private. It does not matter if it is unfair or fair to emit carbon dioxide if one group benefits from someone else’s expense. The only thing that counts is the number of tons of carbon dioxide.

Every tonne we emit during our flight to Spain contributes to reducing summer ice in the Arctic by three square meters. 

According to a report from the World Tourism Organization, emissions from transport-only transport are estimated to increase from 1.6 billion tonnes to almost 2 billion tonnes by 2030. Travel accounts for five percent of Anthropocene emissions of carbon dioxide, a figure that will not decrease.

If warming continues as it has in recent decades, we will break the 1.5-degree limit as early as 2033. There are no indulgences to buy from that future forecast.

As the philosopher, Immanuel Kant argued: We must do what is right because it is right. Not because we are to be rewarded, but because it is the only morally defensible thing.

Shovelling around the guilt and shame of someone else, whether it is an individual, state or company, is becoming increasingly difficult to maneuver. It will hardly be a shame we die if we do not succeed in dealing with the dilemma

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