Global Climate Strike Whataboutism

A picture I posted recently on social media, which I snapped at the San Francisco climate march on September 20th, triggered a few people online. A small minority failed to see the humor in the tongue-in-cheek sign below, which if you look closely, is made from a repurposed greeting card. Several people called the woman holding the sign—who was lovely by the way—a hypocrite for using paper to make a sign that says “Use Less Paper.”

This sign—and the protests themselves—inspired all kinds of whataboutism, as in “You supposedly oppose putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and yet with every breath you take, you literally flush carbon dioxide out of your body and into the environment.” Okay, no one said that. At least, not yet. But you get the gist.

Unsolicited Advice for the Climate Strikers

What strikers should really do is eat less meat.

a) How do you know what the strikers eat? and b) Strikers can both march and eat less or no meat.

What strikers should really do is plant trees.

Strikers can both march and plant trees.

What strikers should really do is boycott the big polluters.

Again, marching in the streets and refusing to buy bottled water—or anything—from Nestlé, for example, are not mutually exclusive actions.

What strikers should really do is consume less.

How many times must I copy and paste this? Strikers can both march and consume less.

What strikers should really do is stop using paper for signs.

Most of the signs I saw looked like old cardboard salvaged from boxes that result from your online shopping addiction.

What strikers should really do is hold the government accountable.

Ummm… 500,000 took to the streets in Montréal to protest government inaction…

What strikers should really do is stop driving to these protests.

How could strikers possibly have driven to cordoned-off areas filled with tens of thousands of people? They took public transit.

What strikers should really do is return to school and let the experts handle this.

In forty years, no one has listened to the scientists. Hence, Greta and millions of children have resorted to taking to the streets rather than go to school.

If I were younger, I might care but I will die soon and so I don’t.

Sounds like you will be sorely missed.

Mitigating the climate crisis requires much more than doing just one thing, such as eating all the food we buy or eating more vegetables and legumes or using less paper or taking public transit. It requires all of us to try our best to do all of the things all of the time every single day—and sometimes failing miserably—while at the same time taking to the streets to pressure our leaders to wean our economies from fossil fuels. Now.

16 Replies to “Global Climate Strike Whataboutism”

    Time to rebel in the streets indeed- my poor 19yr old son is deciding he can’t possibly bring children into this unwell planet… 😢

    1. My kids feel the same way. My older daughter says her biological clock won’t run out for a while, so she’ll see what kind of shape we are in ten or so years from now and then decide. Or adopt.

      1. Well that’s a good positive attitude, good on her. Gives me hope that they have hope 🙏🏼

      2. Me too. And she has a degree in environmental studies (a lot of her classes sounded very depressing) and yet she still has hope. So that gives me hope!

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  3. I really, really like your posts.

  4. I saw the picture on Insta and found it so funny!

    I get kind of tired of all the «how can you say you care when you..» but I try to answer politly that one doesn’t necessarily cancel the other. But I need to work on my pokerface so it doesn’t say all the things I really want to say! I wish I could just print your post and give it to them instead 😉

  5. YES Chef!!! You are spot on with all of this.

  6. Thank you for this post! Keeping the climate crisis topic in our everyday lives I believe is necessary. It’s a reality too many seem content to ignore. And love your reply comments. Will have to share this with my young adult son (who shares the same concerns re bringing children into the world as your own do). Am sure he’ll especially enjoy the comment ‘sounds like you will be sorely missed.’ Thank you for your continued humor that helps spark more desire to keep keeping on!

  7. YES YES YES!!! If I see one more comment about China or India being bigger polluters so if they get on board I’ll get on board,……thank you for being you and speaking up.

  8. Love this post. I protested in Victoria, BC, Canada. Guilt does not help any of us. We have been pushed into a society that does not value the fine art of slowing down and we bought into the greed of corporations. In most cities, two people must work in order to sustain a family, 50 years ago this was not the case. When 2 people work there are now 2 cars on the road, take out meals are easier because families are stretched for time which has created a giant mess for the environment. Blaming us as many of the people have done in order that you felt you needed to create this post, doesn’t help any of us. System change is needed. Thank you for all you do. Love your blog.

  9. Thank you Anne Marie. You are spot on. I loved the tiny sign and am grateful to all those who protest, even if they drive hummers. Ok, well, maybe not hummers. . . .

  10. We’re all inconsistent. I wrote a book about the environment (While Earth Still Speaks). In the process I printed multiple drafts–at least 2000 pages I’m guessing. When I could I used the backs of already printed material, but sometimes there was none around. AND each copy of my printed book uses paper. I like to travel. To ease my conscience a little, I donate to environmental organizations that plant trees or preserve forests.

    The best many of us can do is be ever mindful of how our every action effects the planet.

    Let’s join together in doing that.


  11. Zero Waste Chef is the best most thought provoking eco-friendly blog on the internet, I love reading every post. I was even encouraged to go #zerowaste myself, starting with such a simple and inexpensive way to start healing our planet. #EnvoronmentalRevolution

  12. Jenifer Stoesz says: Reply

    Zero-waste chef is great. Keeps me motivated and active and finding something new to do, often.

  13. Thank you! This really cheered me up!

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