A meteorologist is quitting flying to reduce his personal impact on climate change. The upside: A smaller carbon footprint. The downside: A trip from Atlanta to Wisconsin now takes him 56 hours.
Eric Holthaus, after looking over his personal climate impact, found flying to be his single biggest cause of CO2 emissions. Just quitting flying dropped them by 50%, he says. He explains his decision in Slate:
So what does that look like, in practice?
My world is much smaller now, and that's both good and bad. I've found myself exploring more around where I live. One of the biggest downsides is giving up international travel, which I love. But I'd rather do my part now so the people who actually live in all those exotic places can continue to do so. Maybe, someday soon, there will be a low-carbon way to travel to those places again. Here's hoping. But for now, for me, the climate is more important.
One of the most common questions I've received since I stopped flying is, "How does it affect your job?" It's been a relatively easy transition so far. I was able to work remotely to support my project in Ethiopia, and I'm continuing to do interviews and meetings by video conferencing. But invitations to in-person meetings are picking up, and I'm finding myself being much more choosy than I otherwise would have been. Increasingly, there's a thought process of "Is this worth it?"— which I suppose should have been there all along.
This week, I put my no-fly vow to the test for the first time. I took the bus from Wisconsin to Atlanta.
Holthaus made this chart to compare his travel options into Atlanta — and their climate impact — after which he said the bus was the obvious choice.
So, what do you think? Is quitting flying something you would consider? ("What I'm doing works for me, but it might not work for everyone," cautions Holthaus.) Or, are there other steps you're taking to reduce your climate impact? Maybe the answer is to build up the bus system first, and then use it to reduce, but not completely quit, the number of flights. Tell us what you think in the comments.
Image: Tomas Urbelionis / Shutterstock.