Model Daisy Lowe, most famous for being the daughter of Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale than for her actual modeling work, actress Emma Thompson, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the Duke of Sussex, and even the man behind the electric revolution, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, have all been accused, at some point in time, of being hypocrites. And that’s just this past year, because the examples would pile sky-high if we looked further back.
They’re telling us that we need to do something to cut down emissions, and that we must do it now, or our children’s children won’t stand a chance at a good life on this planet. Occasionally, they fly to remote regions to offer aid with hunger relief, to plant trees and, even more rarely, they will donate money to the same causes.
Their work is admirable because they lead by example. People tend to follow those they perceive as in a position of authority or whom they idolize; it’s just the way the human brain works. But when it comes down to putting what they preach into practice, these very eco-warriors fail. They urge us to stop flying and try alternative means of transport, but they can’t be bothered to at least board a plane that carries more than their small entourage and the cabin crew.
Sure, they worked hard for their money, all of them. And maybe the matters they attend to are more pressing than, say, our needing to be at work on time, so they can’t afford to waste a single minute. But when you want the rest of the world to ditch commercial flying because it’s bad for the environment, jet-setting really does make you look bad.
Or Leonardo DiCaprio, or as The Hollywood Reporter dubbed him in the summer of 2019, Hollywood’s “last movie star.” DiCaprio doesn’t do press all that much, not even when he has a movie to promote, but when he makes an exception for his environmental work. His foundation is deeply involved in several causes around the world, he’s made considerable donations himself and, for the most part, he seems to live up to his reputation as an eco-warrior.
And then, he hops on a private jet to fly from one party to another in Cannes, because he can’t be bothered to take a boat like everyone else.
We can find Prince Harry in the same league. His discourses are passionate arguments for the need to act, for more responsibility and a cleaner lifestyle. His actions are planned ahead and beautifully displayed to the public, as is the case with any other high-profile member of a royal fam. But he also takes several private jets within a fortnight, to go holidaying.
No one is saying that rich people, regardless of whether they’re actors, public figures or CEOs, should give up the lifestyle they’ve worked for. No one is asking them to return to the dark ages and travel by horse-drawn cart, and no one is expecting them to give their fortunes away, just to show that they’re “worthy.”
At the same time, though, it feels hypocritical for them to ask us to give up flying, when we only do it ever so often for pleasure or because our livelihood depends on it. Because, if they do – and they do – we might start thinking that being an environmentalist is the latest woke thing to do, another notch on their belt they can show off at parties.