Monbiot on why flying kills

I think I need a new category.  This post isn’t exactly scaremongering, it’s more like guilt-tripping.  I discovered this post from George Monbiot while looking up background information for my previous post, which was also one massive guilt trip.  Guilt-tripping is not what I like to do, and clearly it’s not something Mr. Monbiot feels entirely comfortable with, either.  In this video, he repeats what he articulated to a Toronto audience in 2006:

This is very tough for people to contemplate, not least those people who have love miles.  Love miles is a phrase I came up with in writing this book, which describes the distance between you and the people you love.  If you have family in Australia, if you have friends waiting to go to in New York, you have love miles with those people, and you feel a moral obligation to redeem those love miles…

Here we see two valid moral codes in irreconcileable antagonism.  It is wrong not to go to your best friends wedding in Capetown.  It is also wrong to go there.  And with climate change we see the requirement for a whole new moral code…

Climate change requires a reorientation of our moral compass.

But Monbiot doesn’t mince words when strong words are necessary.  The moral implications of our emissions are clear, but we ignore them, and to be silent on this point is to act as an accomplice to mass annihilation.

When I challenge my friends about their planned weekend in Rome or their holiday in Florida, they respond with a strange, distant smile and avert their eyes. They just want to enjoy themselves. Who am I to spoil their fun? The moral dissonance is deafening.

Despite the claims the companies make for the democratising effects of cheap travel, 75% of those who use budget airlines are in social classes A, B and C(23). People with second homes abroad take an average of six return flights a year(24), while people in classes D and E hardly fly at all: because they can’t afford the holidays, they are responsible for just 6% of flights(25). Most of the growth, the government envisages, will take place among the wealthiest 10%(26). But the people who are being hit first and will be hit hardest by climate change are among the poorest on earth. Already the droughts in Ethiopia, putting millions at risk of starvation, are being linked by climate scientists to the warming of the Indian Ocean(27). Some 92 million Bangladeshis could be driven out of their homes this century(28), in order that we can still go shopping in New York.

Flying kills. We all know it, and we all do it.

I hope to post something more positive soon.

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