The Digital Conversationalist

Oxfam inequality report

#165 Weekend reads – is the problem really only 10% of the global population?

I know there is A LOT going on in the world right now, and it was such a relief to see some of the hostages released by Hamas (I hope they are ok!), as well as Palestinian women and children released from Israeli prisons. But the environment news this week has been HUGE and I just want to focus on one key report, which I believe makes the whole “who’s responsible?” issue confusing.

The report, of course is from Oxfam, titled: Climate Equality: a planet for the 99%. All of the coverage (and you’ll see a lot below) is focusing on the top 1% of polluters and here’s an example of one headline: Twelve billionaires’ climate emissions outpollute 2.1m homes.

These are the mega wealthy, the .001% and their emissions come from private jets, super yachts, luxury mansions and on we could go, but it is the political power they hold and where they invest that is really being called out for its extreme contribution to emissions and civilizational collapse.  

My only issue with this coverage, is yes, this group ABSOLUTELY makes an outsized contribution to the climate crisis with their personal emissions and it’s beyond time we addressed it. Extreme inequality is a HUGE issue that must be tackled too, but are they really the only one’s responsible?

Here’s the graphic from the report which shows the emissions based on earning capacity around the world. The middle 40% is where I’m questioning the report, or the emphasis of the report, to be precise.

I want to challenge these conclusions and when I mention these numbers to people, they always go and check, so feel free to do it yourself. However, did you know there are 3.8 billion middle class people in the world, which is expected to grow to 4.8 billion by 2030? This means the middle-class is nearly 50% of the world’s population (not 10%), and it’s the largest spending group in the world, sitting in the driver’s seat for increased consumption of goods and materials.

As an example, the mega wealthy aren’t buying so much fast fashion we can see the landfills from space, WE are. They might own the fast fashion companies, but we are the consumers, and we are buying more clothes than we ever have, wearing them less than we ever did, often throwing them away before we’ve even worn them. This is all creating massive environmental devastation.

Of course, the mega wealthy are eating the luxuries our lands, rivers and oceans provide, but the crash of our marine and aquatic life is not because of them (there’s 2,640 billionaires FYI), it’s because there are too many of us who can now afford to eat fish. The deforestation for agriculture, phosphorous released into our water from animal farming, as well as the monocrops to feed agricultural animals, all so we can eat more meat? That’s on us too.

They might own the businesses creating this destruction, but until we stop buying it, will anything change? As an example, there’d be a violent revolution on our hands if McDonalds went plant-based, but that’s exactly the sort of revolution we need in the food game. I always get pushback on this idea too, but if you truly understood the precipice we were at, you’d know these are the sort of moves we need to be making now.

Another big issue is the blame game divides us. We should be able to highlight what billionaires are doing wrong and strongly encourage them to change – because, you know, seriously it’s in their interest, as history shows eventually, they will be brought down – one way or another.

But when we’re focussing all of our rage and vitriol at them, we miss our own responsibility, but we also miss our power from the middle. We, the middle class, drive the global economy and there is a lot of power in 3.8 billion voices, so let’s significantly reduce our emissions and waste, organize our communities to rewild our world, and speak up and drive change worldwide. The billionaires will change when we stop buying what they sell – how can they not?

We need to reinvent our world – how we live, how we consume, and we must live within the balance of the natural world, which requires redeveloping nature consciousness, or we will continue to see our lives degrade, and it’s happening faster now.

Onto the reads!

Donation time

If everyone gave #just10percent of their time, talent, money or voice, we’ll change the world. Can you donate? Why not make a regular donation to the World Food Programme. Or donate to the UN Refugee Program, Medicine Sans Frontier, PowerOf,, Red Cross, and so many more, including urgent fundraising and those supporting animals, like the Soi Dog Foundation. A fabulous organisation I support is B1G1 – check it out and set up an account. It’s a time for giving and taking care of each other.

Content to read

And here’s the content I’ve been reading, listening to or watching. Scan the headlines, read the ones that jump out at you, read, listen to or watch them all. It’s time to pay attention to the information that matters.

Planetary emergency

Populists seek dividends from a climate change backlash (

France warns people off Black Friday clothes deals – BBC News

World facing ‘hellish’ 3C of climate heating, UN warns before Cop28 | Climate crisis | The Guardian

WA firefighters on edge as severe weather warning forecasts gusty winds for bushfire zone – ABC News

Heaviest ever SUVs massively undermine climate benefits of other vehicle improvements, says new GFEI report (

Amazon region hit by trio of droughts in grim snapshot of the century to come (

World’s biggest iceberg is on the move | CNN

CO2 readings from Mauna Loa show failure to combat climate change | Environment | The Guardian

Revealed: the huge climate impact of the middle classes | Greenhouse gas emissions | The Guardian (

Amazon region hit by trio of droughts in grim snapshot of the century to come (

Gripped by drought, this French island is running out of drinking water | CNN (

Global warming on course for 2.9°C, UN report warns | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific

Ethiopia drought: Fifty die of hunger in Tigray and Amhara amid aid freeze – BBC News

‘I thought climate change was a hoax. Now I’ve changed my mind’ – BBC News

A glimpse of optimism on climate change  | The Hill

Who are the polluter elite and how can we tackle carbon inequality? | Greenhouse gas emissions | The Guardian

Concerns raised as Zika warning issued (

MEPs call for militaries to be more transparent in reporting emissions | Euronews

For Climate, Protecting Forests Is Way Better Than Planting Trees – Mother Jones

Perth poised to shatter records after first extremely severe heatwave warning issued in history | — Australia’s leading news site

EPA offers $2 billion to clean up pollution, develop clean energy in poor communities (

More Than Half Of Europeans Are Cutting Down Meat, Study Finds (

Climate conspiracy theories flourish ahead of COP28 (

Fossilized corals in the Seychelles may predict future sea level rise as climate warms – Washington Post

The Fossil Fuel Industry Has Been Infiltrating U.N. Climate Talks for Decades | The New Republic

Science Weekly: Superyachts and private jets: the carbon impact of the ‘polluter elite’ on Apple Podcasts

2023’s extreme weather raised olive oil, beef, and blueberry prices – Vox

Worrying news – ozone layer not recovering after all (

Economic models buckle under strain of climate reality | Reuters

Earth briefly surpasses key climate threshold for first time (

This Climate Solution Rocks: Crushed Stone Helps Farmers Capture Carbon (

The World Has Already Ended.docx (

Brazil records its hottest ever temperature – BBC News (

Climate Scientists Fear the “Uncharted Territory” Earth Has Entered | Atmos

Study examines how massive 2022 eruption changed stratosphere chemistry and dynamics (

More than 1 million gallons of oil leaks into Gulf of Mexico, potentially putting endangered species at risk – CBS News (

Climate on track to warm by nearly 3C without aggressive actions, UN report finds | Reuters

Opinion | Why 2% Is the Most Dangerous Number No One Is Talking About | Common Dreams

Humanity’s End Was Determined from the Start (

‘Where did I go wrong?’ The scientist who tried to raise the climate alarm | Climate science | The Guardian (

Earth passes 2°C of warming on hottest day ever recorded | New Scientist

Climate Equality: A planet for the 99% – Oxfam Policy & Practice

Wildebeest and wolves: The secret weapons against climate change – BBC Future

Coastal river deltas threatened by more than climate change, study shows (

The Arctic permafrost is 1,000 years old. As it thaws, scientists worry what it might unleash (

Billionaires are out of touch and much too powerful. The planet is in trouble | Climate crisis | The Guardian (

The Amazon’s record-setting drought: how bad will it be? (

Former Sky News boss John Ryley says he ‘failed’ on climate change coverage | Climate News | Sky News

The Frightening Reality of Global Collapse | by Angus Peterson | The Steady Drop | Oct, 2023 | Medium

Earth just passed a feared global warming milestone for the first time – The Washington Post

At least 21 dead in torrential Dominican Republic rains (

Bill Gates, the Murdochs, Pitbull: Which celebs take the most private jet flights? | Euronews

‘There are no crops to celebrate’: climate crisis wipes out a way of life in Taiwan’s mountains | Taiwan | The Guardian

Twelve billionaires’ climate emissions outpollute 2.1m homes, analysis finds | Greenhouse gas emissions | The Guardian

Southern US to be soaked by needed rain at the expense of tornadoes (

Taylor Swift appears out of breath at Rio concert – BBC News

Clouds can both help and hinder climate change | The Week

Water crisis: Area families see wells run dry as drought expands | News |

It’s one of Europe’s last pristine rivers. Can scientists save it from 50 dams? | Rivers | The Guardian (

Taylor Swift postpones scorching Rio de Janeiro show after fan’s death | Reuters

Arctic News: Arctic Ocean Heatstroke (

Climate complacency: study finds even the most informed people would rather take the easy option (

Scientists who study Earth’s ice say we could be committed to disastrous sea level rise (

Global politics

The Silence From International Bodies Over Hamas’ Mass Rapes Is a Betrayal of All Women | Opinion (

Israel’s Palestinian prisoner release a ‘window of hope’ in West Bank – BBC News

Thai hostages: Relief for woman who feared boyfriend died in Hamas attack – BBC News

Israel-Gaza: Families’ relief as hostages released – BBC News

Gaza ‘most dangerous place in the world to be a child’ – UNICEF (

Gaza races to disinfect refugee shelters as disease starts to spread (

Gaza hostage deal: what do we know? | Gaza | The Guardian

Netherlands’ Refusal to Remove Statues Speaks to Sense of Historical Victimhood (

Global News Podcast: Anti-Islam populist leads in Dutch exit polls on Apple Podcasts

Dutch election: Anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders wins dramatic victory – BBC News

Nitrogen wars: the Dutch farmers’ revolt that turned a nation upside-down | Farming | The Guardian

Argentinian firebrand Javier Milei is right about one thing: British sovereignty of the Falklands must end | Simon Jenkins | The Guardian

Argentina presidential election: far-right libertarian Javier Milei wins after rival concedes | Argentina | The Guardian

Javier Milei: Argentina’s far-right outsider wins presidential election – BBC News

Ukraine war: The Russians snitching on colleagues and strangers – BBC News

U.S., Israel and Hamas reach tentative deal to pause conflict and free dozens of hostages- WaPo | Reuters

What happened in the Russia-Ukraine war this week? Catch up with the must-read news and analysis | Ukraine | The Guardian

King’s estate to transfer £100m into ethical funds after bona vacantia revelations | King Charles III | The Guardian

‘He’s done nothing to help’: Britain reacts to the autumn statement | Autumn statement 2023 | The Guardian

Disabled people must work from home to do ‘their duty’, says UK minister | Benefits | The Guardian

Britain is broken. What will fix it? Lots and lots of money | George Monbiot | The Guardian

Donald Trump Ally Responds to Rape Accusations (

If Democrats Ran Red States Fewer People Would Die (

US court rolls back key voting rights protection – BBC News

Trump rocked with nightmare consequences of leaked testimony (

US ex-President Jimmy Carter’s wife Rosalynn dies aged 96 – BBC News

Business and technology

The Secretive Industry Devouring the U.S. Economy – The Atlantic

What Really Took Down Airbnb – The Atlantic

Why Shopify is Bursting with enthusiasm for carbon removal – Ketan Joshi

The Chaser’s guide to suing for defamation

OpenAI and the Events that Caused the Crazy Four Days Between Sam Altman’s Firing and Return – Brian Solis

Chasing a different China Dream, young digital nomads head for the hills | Reuters

OpenAI researchers warned board of AI breakthrough ahead of CEO ouster, sources say | Reuters

Omegle: ‘How I got the dangerous chat site closed down’ – BBC News

Twitter CEO Keeps Getting Texts From Colleagues Telling Her to Resign (

Sam Altman returns as CEO OpenAI – The Verge

Media Confidential: James O’Brien on the media figures who “broke Britain” on Apple Podcasts

A.I. Could Replace CEOs–and They Know It |

The White House May Condemn Musk, but the Government Is Addicted to Him – The New York Times (

OpenAI staff demand board resign over Sam Altman sacking – BBC News

Social issues

‘It Snowballed’: How a Knife Attack in Dublin Led to a Riot – The New York Times (

The Sociopaths Among Us—And How to Avoid Them – The Atlantic

Study shows that the ‘manosphere’ community is misusing scientific research to support its beliefs (

Post-Thanksgiving snow threatens to put skids on travel in Midwest (

A Thanksgiving Message from Seven Amazing Native Americans – Project 562 Blog – Project 562

The Gray Area with Sean Illing: The case against free will on Apple Podcasts

Menopause And Dementia Risk: Here’s What to Know – The New York Times (

Red-wine headache explained – and it is not about volume – BBC News

UNSW sex offenders report unveils shocking number of men attracted to children, teens (

Opinion | The Startling Evidence on Learning Loss Is In – The New York Times (


Hampshire villagers bring street’s apostrophe catastrophe to a full stop | Hampshire | The Guardian

Davis Cup Finals 2023: Novak Djokovic seals Serbia’s win over Great Britain – BBC Sport

World’s oldest known wooden structure found in Zambia | Popular Science (

Astronomers Find a Brilliant Explosion That Just Keeps On Exploding – Sky & Telescope – Sky & Telescope

So, what did you read? What jumped out at you? Or share with me what you’re reading? I love that!



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