Don’t go back to the office — if your trips would leave a carbon footprint.

That’s the short, simple answer to how office workers can contribute to mitigating the climate crisis.

Many office workers who have been successfully working from home since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been forced to reduce their carbon footprints. It may not seem like much in the global scheme of things, but we seem to be at the point now where every little reduction counts.

As noted in the preceding post in this blog:

Reports the CBC: “We are now committed to a certain degree of warming in the world because of the emissions of the past,” Ryan Ness, the adaptation research director for the institute and co-author of a (Canadian Institute for Climate Choices report on the public health impacts of climate change), said in an interview on Friday.

“So while, in the longer term, it’s absolutely critical to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible, as fast as possible, to keep things from getting even worse, there is a certain amount of climate change that we can no longer avoid. And the only way to really deal with that is to prepare, to adapt and to become more resilient to this change in climate.”

This comes after the “heat dome” that settled in over the Pacific Northwest, bringing temperatures near 50C and contributing to more than 180 forest fires in British Columbia alone. The future is here, news reports are screaming.

If you were to ask the people of British Columbia — especially the former townsfolk of Lytton — as well as others in the Pacific Northwest and inland who have suffered through the recent “heat dome” and are now breathing in the smoke-filled air caused by more than 180 forest fires, the climate crisis is an emergency. It’s worse than COVID-19 could ever have been.

So, come the final quarter of this year when many workers are called back to offices, many might point to their carbon footprint in daily to-and-from traffic jams as a reason to keep working from home. That seems to be the socially responsible thing to do.

But this is where it gets a little complicated. Some office managers may point out that it’s on you, not them, that you live far enough from the workplace that you need to drive a gas-powered vehicle or take a gas-powered bus to work. They may want you in the office, and it’s not their concern how you get there.

Which is when office workers will have to make choice: leave their jobs and find another more socially-responsible company to work for, or toe the line and continue to pollute the planet.

That’s the immediate dilemma facing workers who would have to leave a carbon footprint in order to travel to and from the office. And that’s when we — the world — will see who really cares and who doesn’t. Personally, I would love to see managers encouraging those who drive to the office to continue working from home — “to keep things from getting worse,” as Ryan Ness said. It would be the socially responsible thing to do, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, it’s up to us, the office workers who have proven our professionalism by working from home since March 2020. If we care at all about the climate crisis and future generations, we can make a difference. Sure, it might seem small, but it can snowball.

Eventually, though, one doesn’t have to be a prophet to see that governments will have to take emergency action, and force drivers of gas-powered vehicles off the road as much as possible. I’m not talking about 10 or 15 years from now. I’m talking a year, maybe two.

And, as mentioned in the preceding post here, be prepared for a lot of finger pointing. Companies are going to be called out by climate activists. Individuals are going to be called out. Statues will topple. And many businesses seen as climate offenders may burn.

The not-so-distant future is going to be hot — and ugly.

– Jillian