Though the scientific and moral case against flying is robust, the reaction to making it has made me lose faith in the power of individual action. I think the only solution is a carbon price: see why in my new introduction.
So, word by word, it can be justified that “your holiday is killing African children”. We need to consider whether, and how many, holidays abroad are really worth the human cost of getting there. The answer is almost certainly fewer than we are taking now, and far fewer than the government’s projections on airport expansion would see us taking in the near future.
The fact that global warming is linked to deaths and reduced quality of life, especially in the developing world, transforms a scientific question into an ethical one. The fact of climate change suddenly makes ignoring it morally reprehensible.
Neither I, nor the more reasonable parts of the environmental lobby, are suggesting a moratorium on air travel, but serious thought as to how much should be allowed is required. Given the fantastically complicated decision-making process and the glacial pace of national government and, worse, international treaties, can you really afford not to take action yourself, now, to avert potential disaster?
Action is undoubtedly needed across all parts of our lives, but nothing an individual can do compares to stopping plane flights. You can campaign, turn off your heating, change all your light bulbs or write a website to try to persuade the masses, but the single biggest thing you can do is not to jump on a plane.
Don’t go on a guilt trip about past holidays. Cancel your next one. Next time you ‘need’ to take a plane, ask whether there’s another way, or whether you actually do need to make the journey at all.
Send a message to the industry and government, get them to set their glacial changes in motion. But you, the individual, can act now. Sort it out. Whoever saves one plane flight saves the World entire. I’m pretty sure Ghandi said something like that.