Are Businesses to Blame For the 2022 Heat Waves?

causes of heat wave
credit: Marek Piwnicki

This article is part of a brand partnership (ironic, no?).

This summer, we’ve seen temperatures reach dangerously high levels around the world.

According to Axios, an estimated 2,000+ people have died from heat-related causes in Spain and Portugal combined, as of July 21. And there have been additional deaths globally including in the U.K. and India.

While some still continue to deny that climate change even exists, others are looking for people to blame. Many even started attacking celebrities for their private jet usage as major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

And why their jet usage is certainly problematic, is it truly the main issue at play? Or it the multinational corporations that have excessive, astounding carbon emissions? Let’s take a look.

Why Are Temperatures Rising?

causes of heat wave 2022
Formation of a heat wave: a high-pressure circulation in the atmosphere acts like a dome or cap, trapping heat at the surface
credit: U. S. National Weather Service/National Ocean Service

The concept that greenhouse gases could affect the climate was first acknowledged in the 1860s. However, it wouldn’t be until 1938 that Guy Callendar, a steam engineer, would connect the dots between the rising amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the rising of global temperatures. This eventually became the foundation for the concept of global warming, aka the long-term heating of the Earth due to human activity.

In layman’s terms, humans have been doing things that cause the planet to get hotter and hotter — and we refuse to stop.

Specifically, the main greenhouse gas that affects global warming is carbon.

Carbon emissions come from all types of things — the main contributors, however, are the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heat, transportation, and industry.

Are Businesses to Blame For the 2022 Heat Wave?

causes of greenhouse gas emissions heat wave 2022
credit: Pixabay

In short, yes.

While there are numerous sources of carbon emissions, corporations are by far and large the biggest contributor.

A groundbreaking 2017 climate report found that, between 1988-2012, only 100 companies in the entire world created 71% of greenhouse gas emissions. Let that sink in for a moment.

The biggest contributors included ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron, among others.

Additionally, a 2015 investigation into ExxonMobile by nonpartisan organization Inside Climate News found that the company had known about global warming for decades and has since created and spread overt propaganda promoting climate denial.

Precicely how businesses contribute to the increasing carbon emissions varies between industries, of course.

For the gas and oil industry, for example, their carbon emissions largely come from the manufacturing process, more specifically fossil fuel uses, methane leaks, and cement manufacturing.

However, for the fashion industry, shipping may be a larger source of carbon emissions. Since most large clothing brands use overseas manufacturers, clothes must be shipped via plane (which releases *a lot* of carbon emissions) just to get in the country. Then, the products must be distributed to warehouses across the country, which can be done either via plane or freight truck, depending on the distance.

Once the clothing arrive at the warehouse storage facilities, they then need to be individually shipped to customers who order online. This, again, means lots of trucks traveling large distances, and using a ton of fuel while they do it.

And to make things even worse, companies don’t always wait until the truck is full to send it on its way, rather, they’ll often send half-empty trucks in order to prioritize speedy delivery.

There are a few ways that the fashion industry can reduce its carbon emissions, but most are unwilling to do so. They prefer to manufacture clothing abroad because of the cheap labor and would rather use priority shipping to satisfy customers than get significant savings on truckload freight shipping which waits until the truck is full before it drives off.

At the end of the day, greedy capitalism will always ensure that businesses choose the easiest, cheapest options rather than even attempt to decrease their carbon emissions.


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