Is Taylor Swift responsible for our floods?
On 21st September 2022, UNICEF wrote, “Torrential monsoon rains triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history, washing away villages and leaving around 3.4 million children in need of assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition. As floodwaters slowly recede, the sheer scale of damage is being revealed. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, while many public health facilities, water systems and schools have been destroyed or damaged. Young children are living out in the open with their families, with no drinking water, no food, and no livelihood, exposed to a wide range of new flood-related risks and hazards, including from damaged buildings and drowning in floodwaters.”
1,569 people died, including 555 children, and an additional 12,860 were injured. 546,288 people are living in temporary camps because of the floods. These are the deadliest floods in Pakistan since 2010, when nearly 2,000 died in flooding, and the deadliest in the world since the 2017 South Asian floods.
What’s Been Causing This Severe Climate Change?
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases. Carbon Dioxide is one such gas that confines heat in the atmosphere that would have been otherwise been radiated off into space and reduces the planet’s ability to cool itself. It’s called global warming for a reason.
NASA states that over the past 250 years, humans have been artificially raising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate, and that the chance for the average global temperature to rise above 1.5°C has increased to almost 50% for the next five year period between 2022 and 2026. Billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere every year, with the agriculture sector contributing 11% of global CO2 emissions, followed by commercial and residential usage of 13%, industry at 24%, electric power at 25%, and transportation at 27%. In transportation, airplanes emit a whopping 1 billions tonnes of CO2. Essentially, one long flight releases the equivalent of nearly 14 percent of the annual emissions from your car. The same route, when driven, will result in the release of 1.26 tons of carbon emissions.
Private Jets Are Killing Us
Time stated that aviation produces just under one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, accounting for 2.5% of global CO2 pollution. A major chunk of which is contributed by private jets, and the people who own these jets. According to the European non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment, private jets are five to fourteen times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, and 50 times more than high-speed rail, emitting two tonnes of carbon dioxide in a single hour. A twitter account, @CelebJets tracks celebrity jet movements based on public information, and they stated that planes affiliated with celebrities emitted an average of more than 3,376 metric tons of CO2 — roughly 480 times more than an average person’s annual emissions. For example, throughout June and July, the bot reported that Drake’s personal Boeing 767 had taken a 7 minute flight, a 12 minute flight and a 14 minute flight, with all three taking place between Toronto and nearby city Hamilton. The 14-minute flight had used 1,613 litres of fuel and caused four tonnes of CO2 emissions, which, again, is the global annual average carbon footprint of one person.
So who owns these jets? A cabal of influential and uber-rich people. Here’s a list of the top 10 people responsible for the most Carbon Dioxide emissions in the entire world:
1. Taylor Swift
Taylor’s jet has an average flight time of just 80 minutes and an average of 139.36 miles per flight. Her total flight emissions for the year come in at 8,293.54 tonnes. Taylor’s shortest recorded flight of 2022 was just 36 minutes flying from Missouri to Nashville.
2. Floyd Mayweather
Mayweather has an average of 25 flights per month: almost one every single day! Theshortest flight recorded by Mayweather was just 10 minutes, landing in Las Vegas and emitting 1 ton of CO2.
So far this year, Jay-Z’s private jet has taken 136 flights, emitting 6,981.3 tonnes of CO2. Flights include a 35 minute journey from New Jersey to Boston and a29 minute flight from North Carolina to Ohio.
4. Alex Rodriguez
J-Lo’s ex-fiance and baseball player, A-Rod, has quite a jet-set lifestyle. The data reveals A-Rod to be the fourth biggest CO2e flight offender, racking up 5,342.7 tonnes of CO2 from his private jet so far this year.
5. Blake Shelton
Blake’s jet has an average flight time of just over an hour, at 64.37 minutes. So far, Blake’s jet has emitted 4,495 tonnes of CO2.
6. Steven Spielberg
Legendary film director Steven Spielberg is sixth on the list, with his jet taking 61 flights this year and emitting 4,465 tonnes of CO2. Shortest flights include a 25 minute journey from Francis S. Gabreski Airport in New York state to New Jersey and an18 minute flight from Amsterdam to Rotterdam: a 48.5-mile trip.
7. Kim Kardashian
So far this year, Kim’s jet emitted 4268.5 tonnes of carbon emissions over 57 flights. Kim’s jet has an average flight time of 85.49 minutes, for an average journey length of 99.78 miles.
Her shortest journeys include a 38 minute flight to Palm Spring, emitting 3 tonnes of CO2, and a 23 minute flight from San Diego, California, to Camarillo, also California.
8. Mark Wahlberg
Wahlberg has emitted 3,772.85 tonnes of CO2 emissions over 101 flights so far in 2022. Mark’s shortest flights include a 29 minutejourney from Van Nuys, California, to Palm Springs, also California and a 46 minute flight landing in London, causing 4 tonnes of CO2.
9. Oprah Winfrey
Multi-billionaire television host Oprah Winfrey has emitted an estimated 3,493.17 tonnes of CO2 from her use of her private jet this year through a total of 68 flights. Shortest flights include a 14 minute flight from Van Nuys, California to Santa Barbara, also California and a 16 minute flight causing 1 tonne of CO2.
10. Travis Scott
Travis Scott did rack up 3,033.3 tonnes of CO2 just this year, with an average flight journey of just 7.31 miles – the shortest average in the top 10. Travis’ jet has a total flight time of 8,384 minutes, or 5.8 days, so far in 2022.
According to Time Magazine, Swift’s representatives, and that of other celebrities, have since denied the claims, saying their jets have been loaned out to others, or that the individuals in question do not own them. In light of this, environmentalists have been calling for stronger restrictions on such wasteful habits as private air and sea journeys—which thanks in part to pandemic travel restrictions have become increasingly popular (who wants to self-isolate in a house when you can self-isolate on an island?). Canada, for example, recently announced it will be implementing a new 10% luxury tax on private airplane and yachts effective Sep. 1, which in part aims to clamp down on the climate impact of these irresponsible activities. Strict measures have to be taken to tone down these extravagant and foolish lifestyles for the sake of the rest of the world that suffers the brunt of the consequences.