When it comes to climate change, burgers are not the problem, and government is the solution, is the takeaway message of climate journalist Daniel Hill''s new book, The Unpalatable Planet: A Story Of The Future.
It is a message that Americans finally seem ready to hear, says Hill, who predicts that humans are on track to see catastrophic temperature rises of anywhere from two to four degrees Celsius. As his book explains in depth, however, "a few burgers here and there" won't be what tips humans onto an unalterable path toward extinction. For that reason, Hill strongly cautions action-obsessed Americans against eliminating meat and other environmentally-damaging foods from their diets, positing that adopting such lifestyle modifications could wrongly suggest that the rightful burden of climate change action is on individuals, rather than on the government.
"I think he makes an excellent point," said New York City resident Marc Chambers. "Why should I be proactive about making my diet more planet-friendly when the government should be doing all kinds of stuff? After all, besides climate change, there aren't really any other advantages to giving up meat. Unless you're a cow, I guess. Which I'm not."
Hill's message similarly hit home with Lisa Sellers of Phoenix, Arizona. "His book was a real wake-up call," said Sellers. "It makes total sense that we should rely on our government to make radical policy changes, instead of trying to do anything about climate change ourselves. I mean, when you really think about it, when has major positive change ever come at a grassroots level, from the people, rather than from the government? That's just not how things work."
"And that was really helpful information about the burgers," she added.
Hill says that he is gratified at how positively people seem to be responding to his message that they shouldn't get caught up in worrying about their environmentally-toxic food and lifestyle choices.
"More than anything," he said, "I wanted to give people a message of hope that they shouldn't feel any moral obligation to do anything differently in their own lives. Their only responsibility is to contribute money to, and of course vote for, a political candidate who claims to really care about the planet."
While emphasizing that trust in politicians, not personal action, is where our focus ought to lie, Hill did acknowledge the airline industry's problematic inherent dependence on fossil fuel. "Aiir travel is the one thing I feel a little guilty about," he said. "But other than that, I feel good."