This post introduces the Reset series – a collection of briefings on lessons from the global pandemic on two vital areas for rapid transition: overconsumption and unnecessary travel.
At some point you realise it’s not about belonging, it’s about being at home in your own skin, on this Earth, wherever you land, and deciding to pay the debt, your family’s debt, your culture’s debt, stretching back through the centuries. The buck stops here, you say. I’m not going anywhere.
In the face of ever-worsening climate change, constant updates from the media on how quickly the Arctic is melting, and an utter failure of our society to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions (rather, we’re still increasing them[3), why do we continue to fly when few other activities in our lives create more emissions?
More importantly, the days spent on crossing by sail put nothing into the atmosphere except the breath of the sailors. Today’s commercial passenger fleet is responsible for 3 to 5 percent of climate forcing, on its way to 15 percent according to some IPCC projections. Clearly it is going in the wrong direction.
What I haven’t yet seen is someone who did fly, writing with hindsight about whether the journey was worthwhile or not.
Should the research community be exempted from the emission reduction targets applied elsewhere?
Over three decades I have received many requests to travel across Australia and across the world to speak at a conference, teach a course or participate in some worthy event related to permaculture. My reluctance to travel long distances for short stays has meant I have had to turned down many of these invitations. In more recent years the reactions of invitees has moved from incredulity to understanding, and even admiration, as a small but growing list of public figures are choosing not to travel by air to highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I refuse to accept that the lurch to 500ppm, 600ppm, 800ppm is an inevitability. I refuse to accept, as Nigel Lawson tried to argue in his debate with the remarkably patient Kevin Anderson on Jeremy Vine’s radio show recently, that doing anything about climate change would impact on economic growth so we shouldn’t bother. I refuse to agree with Peter Lilley that the only way to preserve our economy is to allow unfettered gas fracking anywhere the gas industry decides it wants to drill because “there are simply no affordable renewable technologies available to replace fossil fuels”. I refuse to accept that we can’t do any better than what we have now, and that communities have only a passive role to play in doing something about this with the real work being done by governments and business. I refuse to give up while there’s still a chance.
The airline industry has no future. The same is true for airfreight. No air carrier has a viable plan to make a profit with oil at current prices—much less in years to come as the petroleum available to world markets dwindles rapidly.