Today is World Environment Day, as proclaimed by the United Nations Environment Program. The theme this year: kicking the C02 habit. In celebration of the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had this to say:

“Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes and controls us, makes us deny important truths and blinds us to the consequences of our actions.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The phrase “addicted to oil” is used frequently, but rarely does one hear of the world’s addiction to the byproduct of burning fossil fuels. Think of it like an addiction to cigarettes. Oil is like a cigarette, it is bought in order to be burned. The addiction to both of these is not necessarily an addiction to the actual item, but rather the byproduct of burning it.

The similarities between cigarette smoking and fossil fuel burning go even deeper. In both cases, doubts about the dangers of the act have lasted long after mounds of scientific evidence linked it to disaster. In both cases, committing the act can cause significant damage to those around you, even if they do not partake in it, and in both cases there are those who acknowledge the dangers, but still find it too difficult to quit.

Unfortunately for the planet, however, there is no gum to chew, hotline to call, or patch to wear that can make the transition to a low carbon economy an easier one. Only through sheer political willpower and determination can it be done, and in the case of CO2, everybody has to quit to succeed. Of course, it’s always easier to just give in to an addiction–but in the end it might kill you.

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