I’m a privileged hypocrite

earth blue banner sign

Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by Ellen

The following was originally posted on Ellen’s Facebook page with a public setting. She hopes you read “The Climate Book.”

Here I am, enjoying early retirement from a media field that ignores its core duty to inform the people.

I visit countries where people pull carts loaded with consumer goods while barefoot, as I rub lotion on my soft feet.

Here I am, relishing good food and air conditioned accommodations, as my fossil-fuel based investments grow.

I am a hypocrite.

I do try to lessen my carbon imprint. We fly only occasionally despite our travel lifestyle. We rarely buy fast fashion, we reuse the same bottles and try to minimize plastic use in general. I’m a vegetarian these days.

But it’s all within a siloed system that’s not designed for global climate equity or justice.

The more I travel, the more I see this horrific imbalanced reality, which is still perpetuated by western media indifference. There is no ‘shooting the public straight’ about the climate crisis. Everywhere we go, the weather is “weird/unusual” and the plastic/trash mess would make the Native American Indian from those 1970s commercials sob uncontrollably.

By the way— I didn’t know that ad campaign – backed a lobby group of packaging (plastic) companies – was to divert blame from companies to people for litter!

I learned that, and so much more, in a brilliantly depressing book filled with essays from scientists, academics, and activists about the destruction of our world. Brilliant, because I’m even more aware/awake than I already was. Depressing, because the challenges seem insurmountable. Brilliantly depressing = I can’t stop thinking about it.

Saying I’m glad I don’t have kids in this world is a cop out. It is not about my choice not to have children. It’s about all of humanity, and equity and justice.

One of the last passages of that brilliantly depressing book inspired this post. I copied the ‘calling out’ below. I can’t tell you how many times I fought to keep celebrity junk out of my ‘TV News’ shows. Eventually, I gave up. That was a cop out, too.

My cop outs made it easy to ‘drop out’ and travel. To leave the ‘career’ and just go have fun when I was only 43 years old. I left as the news business blatantly put business first, because advertising drives revenue, and shareholders want revenue. And I’m a shareholder!

My choice: slow travel in early retirement from mass media, with growing investments in polluter companies and savings to carry me through. It was easier/better/more fun than real work.

And that sounds like another cop out of a hypocrite, doesn’t it?

The attached pictures were taken in Kolkata, India, from the backseat of a Hindustan Ambassador taxi, which are common here. I was on my way to a private hospital to pick up test results. I am in India because I’ve always dreamed of coming here. And I can achieve that dream because I’m a privileged hypocrite in a world of struggling Brown and Black people.

I guess … at least I know it. And I can’t stop thinking about it because I hate it.

  • man by burst water main where he bathes in kolkata, india
  • two men pull a car loaded with hundreds of pounds of onions in kolkata, india
  • men pull carts with consumer goods in kolkata, india
  • woman in kolkata, india
  • hindustan ambassador car in kolkata, india
  • man on a horse on a main road in kolkata, india
  • woman in shanty in kolkata, india
  • men in a cart in kolkata, india
  • rundown building in kolkata, india
  • barefoot man on street in kolkata, india
  • street vendor at a taxicab window in kolkata, india
  • woman in her small store/home in kolkata, india
  • another barefoot man in kolkata, india
  • man pushing heavy cart in kolkata, india
  • theo, ellen, mom diante in kolkata, india
  • hindustan ambassador parked at a hospital in kolkata, india

“Media and TV producers: If you are a media producer in search of new programmes, formats or stories, then you are probably already carrying around a loose idea of creating a new, optimistic series on the climate which will educate people while also giving them a feeling of hope. Before you decide to go ahead with that idea, ask yourself whom you wish to create hope for. The ones who are causing the problem, or the ones who are already being affected by it? All those young people who show up in the statistics as ‘worried’ or ‘extremely worried’ about the climate crisis are well aware of the problem. To them, news about the climate crisis is nowhere near as depressing as the fact that the news is being ignored. They do not need game shows with high-emitting celebrities talking about avocados being bad for the environment. They do not find it the least bit hopeful to be told that people can lower their carbon footprint by trying to go vegetarian once a week. In fact, your past and present failures are often one of the reasons why they feel hopeless. So unless the reason you became whatever you are today was to silently support the destruction of the living planet, then I suggest you start doing your job.”

— The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions by Greta Thunberg

Thanks for reading, “I’m a privileged hypocrite.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top