Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mea Culpa

Earlier today I was thrown into a tail-spin by Amelia who asked me if I'm so worried about napkins and Kleenex and toilet paper and what not, why don't I just not fly?

It's a completely valid question; one that she had every right to ask. Why do I fly?

I wish I had a better answer. But the sad and unfortunate truth is that flying is my environmental Achilles heel.

Part of the reason I fly so much is because my close friends and family are scattered on three continents. And part of the reason I fly is because travel is one of my greatest passions. Ironically, it's travel that has made me care so much for this here planet. I want to be able to show my children the unsullied blue of the Nile, and the magnificence of the Taj Mahal. I want them to wander the hills of San Francisco, and spy the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog. I want them to get their feet muddy while walking in an Indian village during monsoon season, and I want them to experience a good old-fashioned Midwestern summer thunderstorm.

Travel is seeing my friends and family. Travel is seeing the world. Travel is, well, I hesitate to use the phrase "raison d'etre," but it's close.

Of course, I can offer you excuses. Planes are going to take off whether or not I'm on them, so why not fly? Yes, ideally if enough people refuse to fly, the airlines will cut the number of flight scheduled, but frankly airline travel is becoming a bigger and bigger pain every year, and yet people are still flying more than ever. Why give up something I love so much for an ideal that might not come to pass?

And I can try to assuage my guilt by buying carbon offsets which I do religiously.

But the fact of the matter remains that I'm not willing to give up flying. Not now anyway. So what does that mean? Should I just give up, and go back to my former consumerist, throw-it-away-and-don't-think-about-the-consequences lifestyle? Does my air travel cancel out everything else?

I don't know. Maybe it does. But I have to believe that everything else I do counts for something. At the very least, if I'm not giving up flying, then I damn well BETTER turn off my heat and give up toilet paper, right?


Sam said...

I love to travel too, but I stopped after TSA got a little too happy to anal probe random strangers. Thus I have flown once after 9/11 and then have refused to fly since. Maybe if the TSA starts to be nicer I might consider flying again.

Mad Hatter said...

Well, there are always going to be more things we could give up to reduce our impact on the environment. You are doing far more than most people I know, myself included. So I applaud your efforts, and I don't think you should beat yourself up for wanting to see your friends and family.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I second mad hatter. Something is better than nothing.