The world now is accessible for million of people thanks to the development of relatively cheap air travel. The matter is the impacts on environment on global. We are traveling by planes more and more and further than ever before. Maybe we should ask ourselves that it is ethical to fly or not.
One group of environmental activists will tell you that it is not. Increasingly, this group are resorting to direct action sometimes breaking the law in order to stand up for the values they believe in. These guys believe that they are in the front line of the next major environmental battle.
They are part of an organization called “Plane Stupid.” They want all airport expansion halted, taxes levied on aviation fuel along with plane tickets and a complete cessation of all short haul flights. This may sound plain stupid but one example of how direct action really did work was when the former Prime Minister of the UK, Margaret Thatcher, promised the largest road building project since Roman times!
Back then, environmental groups successfully used direct action to thwart many road building schemes. Machinery was sabotaged, there were sit-ins and other techniques used to delay proceedings. All this resulted in a tiny fraction of the roads being built which were intended. So for those who are bold enough to engage in direct action, the rewards can be very satisfying. The downside is you might end up in jail.
Whilst their activities may be radical, their goals are honorable. Taking just one short haul flight from the UK to your favorite sunny holiday getaway in Spain is equivalent to your entire electricity use for one whole year when the appropriate conversions to CO2 emissions are calculated. Obviously this is an average but these are the kind of figures we are talking about. A flight of this kind can create as much as a ton of carbon.
We are now at a point where short haul flights have become competitive enough to enable the airline companies to poach customers from the railways and coach networks. This is largely possible due to the fact that railway companies and bus operators have to pay tax on their fuel. The airlines do not. Many people believe this fact alone should ring alarm bells with the powers that be. With tax breaks like that, the airlines are essentially getting a free ride.
Of course the carbon neutral companies will assure you that you can offset your personal CO2 emissions by simply investing in the appropriate businesses. A few years ago this was mainly accomplished by investing in companies who are re-populating rainforests.
What most of the companies failed to acknowledge is the fact that whilst it’s all well and good when the tree is alive, once the tree dies it releases CO2 into the atmosphere. So unless your tree grows for ever you cannot be sure that you are offsetting your CO2 emissions effectively.
As public awareness grows of the need to cut emissions so does the anxiety over flying and inevitably carbon offsets. The carbon neutral companies have gone from small fringe organizations to multimillion dollar concerns in a few short years. This reflects the public’s concern over the environment and our impact on it.
The opponents of carbon offsetting maintain that it is not a solution. They will argue that the end result does not provide any reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases which are being pumped into the air. Their message is one of reduction not offsets.
What it comes down to is how far you are prepared to go as an individual to change your lifestyle and cut your personal CO2 emissions. It is not about cutting the emissions of someone else. It is about taking responsibility for our own environmental impact.
To find out more about the Plane Stupid organization and how you can get involved just run a quick search on google, you’ll find them at the top of the list.
Fi Nanda has been interested in environmental issues for a number of years and is sponsoring the following web site: Carbon Neutral Web Hosting – a site offering green web hosting 100% powered by the sun!
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