Climate change and the “average” American

I try to keep my blog and online space a positive place. This is not exactly negative, but climate change can be a contentious issue and there are some points that need to be made about how the issue of climate change is presented.
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Far be it from me to define the “average” American, but there is always an average to be found. Check out this map from Planet Money, The Most Common Job in Every State. What is the most common job? Truck driver, in the overwhelming majority of states….red and blue states.
 
most common job
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The average person probably takes one or two vacations a year, and they mostly drive. Growing up, I didn’t fly until I was eleven, and that was for funeral. We drove to grandma’s house for vacation, and maybe went camping. Unless you are lucky or strategic enough to be able to walk or take public transit to work, you don’t have any other choice but to drive, since our cities and suburbs are mostly designed for the car and walkable places are the most expensive. 
 
So, what is the “average” American to do, when they are being preached at by celebrities and politicians who travel all the time and have multiple houses? Authors and influential people who are traveling all over the world to go to conferences about climate change but look down on people who drive SUV’s to the grocery store? Politicians who talk about the environment but give massive tax breaks to all of our polluting industries (which we ALL use and currently depend on, from Boeing to Shell)? When their built environments give them few transportation choices except driving?
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What should be articulated as ambivalence, paralysis, powerlessness, etc comes out as denial. Yes, some politicians express flat out denial, this is well documented.  It might seem like people don’t “believe” in climate change, when really they just don’t see what they can do in their lives that will make any bit of difference when the messengers are not exactly leading by example. The average person is trapped in a framework with little control over the carbon they emit.
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If I may insert what I think is best, from an architect’s perspective. Each person should do what is in their power and what they can do. For example, the urban planning and architecture professions have a duty and responsibility to create places that are less dependent on cars. Living closer to work, driving less, walking more, buying less; all have benefits far beyond environmentalism. After that, there’s only so much guilt that be heaped on to the average person.
 

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