Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Environmentally Friendly Travel
Reload this Page >

A Climate Scientist Stops Flying. Would you?

A Climate Scientist Stops Flying. Would you?

Old Jun 9, 22, 4:12 am
  #1  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,601
A Climate Scientist Stops Flying. Would you?

We’re all here because we fly. But this is a provocative essay from a climate scientist who realized in 2011 he had to stop.
I always rationalize my flying and figure it brings people across the world closer together, possibly diminishing potential conflict. And truth is, I love to travel and figure I will work like mad to diminish my impact in other ways before giving up flying. But it makes me think….

(Essay from 2015)
“I’m a climate scientist who doesn’t fly. I try to avoid burning fossil fuels, because it’s clear that doing so causes real harm to humans and to nonhumans, today and far into the future. I don’t like harming others, so I don’t fly. …

“Then one evening in 2011, I gathered my utility bills and did some internet research. I looked up the amounts of carbon dioxide emitted by burning a gallon of gasoline and a therm (about 100 cubic feet) of natural gas, I found an estimate for emissions from producing the food for a typical American diet and an estimate for generating a kilowatt-hour of electricity in California, and I averaged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environmental Protection Agency estimates for CO2 emissions per mile from flying. With these data, I made a basic pie chart of my personal greenhouse gas emissions for 2010.

“This picture came as a surprise. I’d assumed that electricity and driving were my largest sources of emissions. Instead, it turned out that the 50,000 miles I’d flown that year (two international and half a dozen domestic flights, typical for postdocs in the sciences who are expected to attend conferences and meetings) utterly dominated my emissions.”



https://grist.org/climate-energy/a-c...xOrCdQtWRZ3gBg
hugolover likes this.
l etoile is offline  
Old Jun 9, 22, 2:24 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: NC
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat - 2MM miles
Posts: 8,968
I love travelling but I do see a day when we are going to have to stop flying. Our planet is in deep danger.
l etoile and hugolover like this.
Redhead is offline  
Old Jun 15, 22, 3:17 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 9,173
All forms of moving people including migration are climate crimes. It would be better if people stayed where they are and sustained themselves on the food and resources in that location. We need a legal and political framework to limit flying leading to an eventual ban. Covid legislation and the tools to track people are a good model for this.
hugolover is offline  
Old Jun 17, 22, 4:06 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: LAX
Programs: UA
Posts: 361
As a phd student working in a field closely related to climate science, all the climate scientists are still traveling. I also think that this is pretending that individual responsibility can fix what is fundamentally a collective problem.
Redhead likes this.
angetenar is online now  
Old Jun 17, 22, 7:25 am
  #5  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Airlines, Airport Lounges and Environmentally Friendly Travel
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: London, UK
Posts: 21,412
Originally Posted by hugolover View Post
All forms of moving people including migration are climate crimes. It would be better if people stayed where they are and sustained themselves on the food and resources in that location. We need a legal and political framework to limit flying leading to an eventual ban. Covid legislation and the tools to track people are a good model for this.
Are you leading by example and if so, could you share any insights or suggestions on dealing with the transition? It would be good to learn from your experience
Prospero is offline  
Old Jun 20, 22, 5:10 am
  #6  
Moderator: Manufactured Spending
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 6,280
I am not going to stop flying any time soon, but I am attempting to eliminate unnecessary travel by attending meetings virtually when possible, which is thankfully becoming easier and more common these days. I am also utilizing trains/buses in lieu of short flights.

Ultimately, the reality is that it is very difficult to convince people to lower their quality of life in order to avert an environmental disaster that probably won't materialize in full force until after they are dead. Therefore, the best solution is not to prevent people from flying, but to develop cleaner technologies. In just a few decades, the majority of the cars on the road should be electric. Will planes be next?
cbn42 is offline  
Old Jun 22, 22, 10:39 am
  #7  
Senior Moderator, Moderator: Coronavirus, United MileagePlus, Environmentally Friendly Travel, FlyerTalk Cares
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1.7 MM/Plat; AS MVP 75K; AA gold; Fairmont & Starwood platinum; Hyatt diamond; Kimpton IC Elite
Posts: 17,601
Originally Posted by angetenar View Post
As a phd student working in a field closely related to climate science, all the climate scientists are still traveling. I also think that this is pretending that individual responsibility can fix what is fundamentally a collective problem.
Dr. Kalmus, a climate scientist for NASA and author of the article, stopped flying in 2012. Here’s a story on more who no longer fly.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc...s-60400458.amp

Last edited by l etoile; Jun 22, 22 at 10:50 am
l etoile is offline  
Old Jun 24, 22, 7:01 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: NC
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat - 2MM miles
Posts: 8,968
While individual actions are nice and don’t hurt, we need massive national action. We need a government drive like the space race but for green energy
Spiff and l etoile like this.
Redhead is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread