Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Down with Planes!

Yay! I had come across this article some time ago and was reminded of it while I ws fuming on a delayed Northwest flight on Monday. Coincidentally, I've stumbled into it again today.

It's lengthy, so I'll only copy a portion and provide the link to the rest, but my recent irritation has convinced me to follow their lead. I have a trip to Halifax planned in June for which I'll likely fly, but that's it. Any other football-related trip will be by train or bus. In fact, I've taken the pledge described in the article.

Down with planes (figuratively)!

Michael Gibson's new year's resolution was a tough one, but nothing to do with giving up cigarettes, alcohol or junk food. He has decided to stop flying.

'I just realised that all my other efforts to be green - recycling, insulating the house, not driving a giant 4x4 - would be totally wiped out by a couple of holidays by air,' said Gibson, 32, from Manchester. He's not alone. Suddenly and spontaneously, growing numbers of travellers are deciding they must give up, or at least cut back on, their far-flung weekend city breaks and long-haul holidays in the sun.
The arguments against flying are compelling. One return flight to Florida produces the equivalent carbon dioxide to a year's motoring. A return flight to Australia equals the emissions of three average cars for a year. Fly from London to Edinburgh for the weekend and you produce 193kg of CO2, eight times the 23.8kg you produce by taking the train. Moreover, the pollution is released at an altitude where its effect on climate change is more than double that on the ground.

More frightening is the boom in the number of people flying, fuelled by cheap flights with carriers such as Ryanair and Easyjet. In 1970, British airports were used by 32 million people. In 2004, the figure was 216 million. In 2030, according to government forecasts, it will be around 500 million. The trouble is that the people most likely to be aware of these figures, are the ones who probably enjoy popping over to Europe for a weekend. It makes for a large amount of guilt, and a lot of denial.

Now, it seems, we are on the cusp of the guilt turning into action. Next month sees the launch of the first formal campaign to limit flying. Flight Pledge, will focus on a website ( on which people can commit to cutting back on flying. There's a choice of a gold pledge - a promise to take no flights in the coming year - or silver, representing a maximum of two short-haul or one long-haul flight. The idea, says John Valentine, its creator, is to collect enough signatories to press the European Union into taxing aviation fuel, thus increasing air fares and stifling the growth in air travel.

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