Monday, 8 August 2011

Flying high, in the sky

The last session of the course I treated myself to on all things carbon footprintish and greener living was a real eye opener. Now, to some degree I knew that I'm doing ok on the food front, ok on the recycling front, and I don't waste energy if I can avoid it (though there's still a lot of space for improvement in all of these areas). And I know that the biggest area of fail is that of transport.

It's only logical, as an expat. You travel home to see your family, your friends. Flying is convenient and if not as cheap as it used to, it still is cheaper than any other way of travelling. I knew that flying isn't exactly great for my carbon footprint, but hey ho, I did reduce it to only 2 European return flights this year, which, considering how I love travelling, is a major improvement.

Until I had to face the fact what those 2 short return flights mean for my carbon footprint. Gulp. I really didn't think flying was that bad for this planet of ours. I mean, I knew it was bad. But that bad? I thought it would compare to my car journeys, but really, no. All my thoughts went into how I could live without a car, when really my greatest sin are those four 75 minute flights.

It's really quite unspeakable how bad flying is. One return flight equals our carbon footprint for all things home - ie. in under 3 hours I damage the planet more than I do in a whole year by using household appliances AND heating/cooking. It is clear, the way to a greener world, in my case, and I'm sure I'm quite normal in that respect, is by saying goodbye to air travel.

That isn't easy. I'm certainly not pledging anything like it just now, I'm a realist. Although it helps that I actually hate flying anyway and when we got stuck due to some Icelandic volcano errupting and took the ferry back, it was actually quite a pleasant journey (admittedly helped by having "taxi" services on either side). Yes, I can see us using car and ferry to travel to Europe.

But what about business travel? If you are someone who flies for business, and you think hard and truthful about those journeys, are they really necessary? Are they really so necessary as to justify damaging the planet to the extent they actually do? On the eve of the end of my maternity I'm sure that for every suggested business trip I will advocate the use of alternatives. Luckily we have a fab train line to London, and Manchester, where most of my trips will be to.

In the grand scheme of things, the one area where we can all make a humongous difference towards reducing our carbon footprint is air travel. More than any insulating of homes, switching off of lights can ever achieve. It's an opportunity, even though it'll mean less travel (which I'm the first to admit is a bit of a shame).

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