We are the Trust Fund Babies of Dinosaurs
May 3, 2023
Ah, the stereotypical trust fund kid. You know the type - entitled, lazy, coasting through life like they hit a triple when they were actually born on third base.
We've seen the meme's and heard the stories. Of course, they aren't all true.
Some trust fund kids actually put their funds to good use, pursuing education, funding nonprofits, or making scientific breakthroughs. They use the trust fund for its intended purpose - to take risks they otherwise wouldn't be able to, and make the most of an opportunity to better themselves and contribute to building a better world.
Well, guess what? We're ALL trust fund babies. Our prehistoric dino ancestors left us a trust fund worth trillions - billions of tons of highly concentrated fossil fuels.
Just like a trust fund, we couldn't access it until we were, supposedly, sophisticated enough to know how to use it wisely. And just like the worst of those trust fund kids, we've squandered most of it.*
Instead of using our fossil fuel trust fund to develop alternative energy sources and build a sustainable future, we've blown it on wars, transportation, climate control, and single-use plastics. We've been partying hard on this fund, neglecting the skills we need to survive, let alone thrive independently.
But we're not tapped out yet. We still have time to change our ways and avoid becoming the stereotype.
We can choose to use the remaining funds to innovate, create, and achieve ongoing solvency.
Or we can stay the course - keep partying, and ignore the looming consequences.
Spoiler alert: we'll eventually run out of money, and in this case we don't have rich parents to bail us out. (Not to mention - all this partying is wreaking havoc on our health. We might end up spending more on hospital bills than anything else.⁺)
When the party's over, we'll be forced to "get a job" and desperately try to regain what we once had. Those easy days of abundant energy and all the things we took for granted will be gone.
So... what kind of trust fund baby do we want to be? The choice is ours, and the clock is ticking.
*There are a ton of various accounts on how much fossil fuels remain with plenty of bias all around. That said, many organizations seem to agree that we have around only 50 years of oil supply left (assuming similar to current demand) and we've been burning it since the 1800s. EESI shares more.
⁺Yes, this is a metaphor for global warming. With increased heat, there is increased use of energy trying to keep people cool, which creates more heat... check out the Air Conditioning Paradox.
I get it - approaching this problem can feel too big, or simply unapproachable. If you’re anything like I was, you might be interested in some easy things you can do to contribute.
1. Vote to support alternative energy.
Renewables are just that, renewable, in some cases it's like making a solid investment with our trust fund, and provides interest every month.
Nuclear energy is incredibly safe and viable - if you doubt it, please reconsider. Here's an article from The Economist to get you started.
2. Vote for a Carbon Tax or Carbon Border Adjustment - in short, CO2 is a waste product like anything else, it's just invisible. A CBA makes sure companies take care of ALL of their trash - be it scraps from manufacturing like we do now, or CO2 from the manufacturing and shipping process.
3. Consider offsetting your footprint - be it for your business or household to become carbon neutral.
(Full disclosure, I believe carbon offsets are a critical part of our future solution, so much so I helped create a platform to enable employers to offset their employees personal carbon footprints. You're welcome to use it for your personal footprint as well, though I suggest if it is something you're interested in, you send the link to your boss or HR manager.)
4. Be mindful with AC and heating - about 10% of all US energy use is heating and cooling of space. I'm not saying don't use it, but the difference of a single degree or two across millions of households adds up real quick.
*Finally: What about the "Less than 100 companies are responsible for 70% of total global emissions"?
Yes and no. Yes they contribute and it is a reason to vote for regulation to curb these companies' behaviors. The part that doesn’t fit as easily into a social media post is the fact these companies aren't creating energy and goods for no one - ALL of us are heating/cooling our homes, eating food we didn't grow ourselves, putting gas into our vehicles, etc. these companies wouldn't have this impact if they were legally not allowed to, nor would they if there wasn't a market of people constantly purchasing the commodities they produce. That's on all of us.