By Michael Kern
Generally speaking, being a celebrity means having an outsized carbon footprint. That means that by default, just getting rid of celebrities would help us fight against climate change. That goes for pretty much every major celebrity except … Keanu Reeves, the outlier who doesn’t even have an email account and has no clue what everyone’s saying about him on social media platforms such as Instagram.
Why do celebrities have outsized carbon footprints? They lead energy-intense lifestyles beyond the norm, and their carbon consumption is massively intense. And what they do, the masses do, like lemmings. Celebrities are the supreme cultural influencers.
For starters, they either use or cause the use of huge amounts of electricity in the internet, which is responsible for a huge chunk of our global greenhouse gas emissions.
In fact, by 2025, it could be responsible for a staggering 20 percent of global electricity consumption and up to 5.5 percent of all carbon emissions.
And you’re doing it right now, while we assure you Keanu Reeves is not.
In fact, he appeared to have no idea that he had been dubbed “the internet’s boyfriend”, an idea, when told in person, that he found “wacky”. The Internet, the tsunami of data it must power, and the mass use of smart devices could increase global emissions by 3.5 percent by next year already – and by up to 14 percent by 2040, according to an update to a 2016 peer-reviewed study by Swedish researcher Anders Andrae. Yet we dare you environmentally conscious millennials to give up your smartphone.
The ICT industry’s power demand is likely to increase from 200-300 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity a year in 2017, to 1,200-3,000TWh by 2025. Data centers alone could emit 1.9 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon emissions, or 3.2 percent of the global total.
Yet only 3 percent of our planet’s electricity came from oil in 2018. So your Instagram obsession? It’s powered predominantly by coal, which supplied a whopping 38 percent of electricity in 2018.
Then there’s the private jets, frequent flying and even, in some cases, endorsing airlines.
Take Paris Hilton, for example. Stefan Gössling, a Lund University professor, took the time to mine the social media accounts of ten celebrities to see how they got where they needed to be through 2017.
Paris Hilton, whose celebrity status is largely confined to “socialite”, came in as the second worse “super-emitter”, having flown 171,346 miles by various private jets in 2017, emitting more than 1,260 tons of CO2 in the process.
The No. 1 worst ‘super-emitter’ was actually Bill Gates, who was single-handedly responsible for a carbon footprint of more than 1,600 tons of CO2. In 2017, researchers registered 59 flights for Gates on his private Bombardier BD-700, totaling over 213,000 miles.
Jennifer Lopez, the third-worst ‘super-emitter’, flew nearly 140,000 miles in 2017, with a carbon footprint of 1,051 tons of CO2.
Keanu Reeves, meanwhile, doesn’t use private jets. And while he appears to love motorcycles, that doesn’t compare to the likes of Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez and Bill Gates. He does own a motorcycle company, but he also rides the subway in New York City. He is also not followed by an entourage, a common celebrity trait that generally triples or quadruples (or worse) the carbon footprint of A-list celebrities.
The rules, it seems, are different for A-list celebrities, but not for Keanu Reeves, who plays by no one’s rule book but his own.
Is Keanu Reeves an “environmentalist”?
Saying ‘yes’ would mean putting him in a category that he’s not going to want to be. Instead, he’s simply a real person whose existence is not defined by all those things that give us a massive carbon footprint, and who has some normal level of concern for the planet that has been hosting him. He’s an environmentalist by default, lost in a sea of environmental hypocrites.
He was a narrator of “The Great Warming”, alongside songwriter Alanis Morissette, in 2006. The film was endorsed by dozens of leading scientists.
So what’s your Keanu Reeves Factor? Unless you’re a celebrity or a high-net-worth individual, you likely have a KRF of at least 2, with 1 being the best carbon footprint you can achieve.
If you do any of the following things, you’ll have another negative point on your KRF:
– Live vicariously via social media and would cease to exist if the world were unplugged
– Own or fly in a private jet
– Fly on regularly scheduled flights more than ten times a year
– Spend more than five hours a day online
– Travel with an entourage
So, how can Keanu Reeves stop climate change? By doing nothing. He is fast becoming the only A-list celebrity in the world who lives a real life, and the greater his influence grows organically, the better chance there is that he will force others to walk the walk, too. The only irony is that the only reason anyone knows about ‘real’ life is that other people are playing it up online. And he’s oblivious to it all.