Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sky High

I broke my rule and pitched into a forum debate in the Guardian today - The stratospheric cost of cheap flights - prompted by Green MEP Dr. Caroline Lucas.

Some interesting, and varied opinions in the mix.

Here are mine:

"Though it is obviously (oh boy, is it ever) still up for debate, I personally believe that whatever 'we' are doing as an ever-growing global population, the consequences of our existences, rich or poor, are not helping halt the negative aspects of climate change.

Closer to home, and this discussion, I also believe that air travel emissions are quite high on the list of probable causes and need addressing.

A while ago I caught the tail end of yet another academo/journalistic spat about climate warming - - and would just like to share this:

"[You are] flying on holiday and the plane is ½ hour out over the Atlantic. Of 150 aerospace engineers on board, 90 say that there's been a fuel leak and the plane has 40 minutes of flying time left. It's time to turn around. The other 60 say that there's no conclusive evidence of a leak and [you] should not turn around because it would inconvenience the CEOs in business class."

The conclusion is also worth sharing: '[The] debate is about risk, not certainty. [We] might choose to listen when more than half the experts are warning of a problem that threatens our entire species'.

Asking who flies where how often is obviously fun when the 'greener than thous' get on their specific and saintly hobby horses, but really doesn't address the bigger picture. Yet, of those on board (sorry) with the notion that it's a problem requiring a solution, we still seem to be circling (sorry again:)) around what to do.

I don't really understand all these trading schemes very well, and have my suspicions that they will just create a whole new breed of very rich folk who will be able to afford to fly around discussing what they are trading. And on a personal holidaymaker basis, I am equally not sure that whacking another fir tree in the Gobi to make up for a stag trip to Rimini is going to help much either.

Both simply seem to be trying to buy off our guilt and/or the consequences of demanding our right to go where, when and as often as we please, simply because we can.

Plus these solutions all seem potentially so socially divisive on top of the eco-consequences, as it will inevitably be those with the dosh who get to make the trips if it boils down to just money.

As a small suggestion, I'd advocate some form of individual quota system, where you're allowed a certain number of airmiles per annum per person.

You want to do more, you can trade with those who don't need or want them (so all those business types on a jolly will need to get them off a some poor eskimo whose igloo has just melted).

This does of course simplistically ignore a few global societal imbalances (if every Chinese agri-worker or bushman in the Kalahari gets the right to 10k airmiles, the planet would be toast in a week), economic realities (just where exactly are all those who depend on the current - let alone proposed - levels of air travel going to be reassigned?) and remarkably optimistic hopes of planetary cooperation in the spirit of self-preservation over self-interest, but then that's what politicians are for, isn't it?

But a start (to stopping - 50 airports' worth taking off from a 'soon to be affluent enough to afford it' China is a... concern) needs to be made.

This at least is an attempt. A tad unilateral. Fraught with inequalities and impracticailties for sure, but better than doing nothing.

I am prepared to hold my breath, and just hope there's a resolution before I really have to... for good."

WrapAtak #2

I'm always up for a freebie. And it seems churlish to complain when
it's delivered, but I'm afraid I find this one a bit daft and worthy
of comment.

A wee while ago I came across an offer by a major paper company
(whose products we're happy to use) to request a recycling box (or
three). Well, we always have a use for a box, so why not? And I duly

Well, they arrived. And dead spiffy they are too.

But does it really make sense for them have come all the way from
Germany... by courier!

And would it have been beyond their ken to make the boxes their paper
gets delivered in provide the same purpose. An opportunity lost.

Full marks for the sentiment. Nil points for much else, I'm afraid.


Time now for one of my cheeky eyebrow raises. After the flurry of eco-
articles on travel, cars, etc, I couldn't help be notice that the
media's fervour has moved on a bit, and so not much mention of the
footy WAGS using private jets like taxis.

And now I have spotted this: Me and My Motors: Maria Sharapova

"When Maria Sharapova came from nowhere to win Wimbledon aged just
17, she was still being ferried to training sessions in the family’s
ageing Honda — the only car the Sharapovas had ever owned. Fast
forward two years and the 19-year-old Russian will be chauffeur-
driven to the All England club in a £50,000 Range Rover Sport."

I'm just a bit intrigued as to why a) a 4x4 is necessary to navigate
the wilds of Wimbledon and b), perhaps more interestingly, why no one
that I can spot from the green brigade (I'm green lite so don't
count) has yet had a peep to say about it.

Then again, I wonder how many of our green elite are parked in centre