Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stop Flying

Should we stop flying? Ever since I read British environmental journalist George Monbiot's stimulating book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning awhile back, one of the conclusions that stuck with me most was how the air travel sector (and high-speed long-distance travel in genreal) is probably the most difficult sector for finding technological solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Monbiot argues that there is no alternative but to drastically reduce air travel. He contends that we need a new ethics to discourage frequent air travel, since it is highly damaging to the atmosphere and, moreover, since it is almost exclusively done by the most privileged people on the planet. (Poor people in developing countries, who will be the worst victims of climate change, never fly.)

It will be hard enough to curtail our air travel for business. But think of the even more difficult problem of what Monbiot calls "Love Miles," the distance that separates us from loved ones. See this video clip from Monbiot to hear more, or perhaps his article in the Guardian. I believe that we need to grapple honestly with the sobering implications of Monbiot's argument.

1 comment:

Robert Ellman said...

Of all things, this post reminds me of a Star Trek the Next Generation episode when Starfleet mandated not exceeding warp five because of damage inflicted in the space time continuim. It was Star Trek's way of delivering a message about our having to adjust to global warming.

Air travel is an obvious culprit with respect to global warming. Yet it is so integral to the modern world. I wouldn't know where to begin in grappling with it. We need to do that now of course.

If reduction of air travel means eliminating the barbaric use of "air power" in war, that would be a nice consequence.