Saturday, March 17, 2007


The world is cooking. Global warming is real. Human (and cow) carbon emissions are partly to blame. The scientists who disagree, are quite frankly, rogues. As Marcus Brigstocke says, I don't expect to see wasps on my Chritsmas pudding. So what sacrifice should we human beings make to save our own skins? Stop flying? Stop driving? Stop tumble drying?

Sadly, there are some things I'm just not prepared to do. I'm not prepared to give up flying. I have though tried to give up other things, most involuntarily. My car packed up, and I haven't been able to afford a new one, plus I'm not particularly bothered anymore. I have a drying rack, so I dry my clothes on them, and only use the tumble dryer in emergencies.

I turn off lights religiously, I don't leave things on standby. I recycle my bottles and papers, I reuse my plastic bags. San Francisco might be banning plastic bags, and the advent of biodegradable plastics would go a long way to assuaging my guilt. But no matter how hard I try, I doubt I'll ever be carbon neutral.

Back to flying. I can't see any replacement for flying. Cycling to New York across Greenland, Newfoundland, transatlantic sharks snapping at your heels, is not my idea of saving the planet. Flying was the greatest thing that emerged from the post-industrial revolution West. I just cannot imagine giving up flying, especially if there's no alternative.

If you're keen to hear about someone dedicated to a green life, spare a thought for Barbara Haddrill. She was to be a bridesmaid at one of her best friends' wedding in Australia, but refused to fly because of the damage air travel does to the environment. You can imagine how much of a conundrum she was in, considering she lives in Wales. What did she do? She quit her job and proceeded halfway around the world in 50 days, on a various modes of transport except flying. A real green trooper.

The long version:


Anonymous said...

her story is a testament to the fact that it can be done if you want to do it badly enough.

Monef said...

Baby steps!

Butterfly Jones said...

Hi Nkem - long time no speak, just passing through. Holla x

Unknown said...

I am all for recycling but I havent reached babs2brisbanes level yet. Like you, I'm not prepared to give up flying either. How on earth would I get to my village if I were to go on holidays other than taking a 6hr flight?

I try to turn off lights and recycle papers, bottles and other materials as there is a collection bin right up my street. Collecting green points from my supermarket is another one I enjoy as I've got several bags for life stored away and put to good news.

Atala Wala Wala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Atala Wala Wala said...

I don't think that the intention is to ban you from flying. I think the idea is to make you think about whether you really need to fly or not - perhaps it would be better to take a holiday where you live rather than flying half-way across the world? Or perhaps that meeting is best held via videoconferencing facilities?

Having said that, I don't think green taxes on flying will make much of a difference to people's flying habits, because most people typically only make a few flights a year. And the demand for things that people only purchase infrequently tends not to shrink much if the price goes up.

In fact, I don't think many people will adopt the environmentally conscious habits that are being preached about (like recycling, etc.) until it either becomes convenient to do so or too expensive or inconvenient to do otherwise.

Talatu-Carmen said...

I know exactly how you feel. I feel virtuous about my light-turning-off and religious recycling habits, my lack of car, but I fly a lot--which probably counteracts by 10X all my other good habits. What I hope is that someone is developing more solar/battery technology, so that we can transfer all forms of transportation to renewable resources someday--including planes. But I'm no engineer, and it's easier to hope than to do. Terrible dilemma: our lifestyle is just unsustainable--and how practical is it to quit jobs and spend months to go to a wedding?

Anonymous said...

you can buy environmental vouchers to make up for your flying.

Unknown said...

You're all batshit crazy.

I would love to be in the environmental voucher business so I can make a lot of money then buy my own fleet of 747s and fly everywhere, including to my local grocery.

Give it up, it's complete and utter bullshit--all the light switch turn offs is equivalent to the first 10 minutes of any flight you're on.

Anonymous said...

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Sade Adelekan,
Managing Editor, BHF Magazine