Do people know that flying is bad for the climate? And do they care?
I really appreciate you writing on this topic which I feel is so often ignored. It is one of those things which seems to be put in the 'too hard basket', as stopping flying is seen as a step too far for some people to take.
I can't speak for other countries but here in Australia international travel is seen as a right. The gap year travelling around the world, the lengthy trips through Europe, they are all viewed as a 'right of passage' for our younger generation and then again on retirement. The size of our country and the distance between cities means people regularly fly for weekends, business trips or interstate holidays multiple times a year. The travel industry is huge and advertising is everywhere.
On a personal level I find it hard to talk to people about this as I don't want to sound 'preachy' or for people to take it as a personal criticism. One example of telling someone why I choose not to fly results in the common response, "but we have to see the world". And, I think this is the challenge we are dealing with. We need to change our values. We need to understand the dire climate situation we are facing. We need to acknowledge that our perceived 'rights' only exist because of our privilege. We need to accept that this obsession with 'seeing the world', overseas holidays and travel is only very recent. For 99.9% of human history we were able to live quite happily while limiting travel to wherever we could reach by foot, horse, car, boat, train etc.
It's a really fascinating topic in relation to psychology - the power of advertising and the ability of the human mind to justify decisions which we feel benefit us.
Thank you for writing about flying. It has been a problematic area for me so it is helpful to read your observations, research and comments. I feel like you outlined in your opening statement. I don't fly but have many friends who do and that is often accompanied to going to a resort somewhere for a holiday in some 3rd world country. They are also people who have the financial means to do what they want. I don't have the courage to challenge these friends. Some of them also travel to visit a relative which to me is a different category, which is hard to reconcile as well. I read the notes below and agree with them - more conversation please. !
Hi Frida! Great newsletter, as usual. Thank you. I still fly and I am very ashamed of it. It is some sort of cognitive dissonance I believe - I am doing something that I think is really bad, but do it anyway, and feel terrible about it.
The reason I fly is because I live abroad and I deeply miss my hometown, family and friends. On one end, I have some sort of primary need to visit home once in a while. On the other end, I hate myself for doing such a selfish and destructive act. Even more sadly I need to cross an ocean. I've decided to visit home only once every 2 years, which is more or less my mental health limit. However, this is a very imperfect solution. The impact of a transatlantic flight every 2 years is still enormous and unacceptable, and I cannot convince my mom not to come visit me, which adds to the emissions that I am responsible for.
Now I have a family of my own in my new country. Even though I contemplate the idea of moving back home, it is likely that it will take me a few years to decide. And even if we move, it is likely that my girlfriend will then face the same dilemma. I don't know what to do or think. I want to quit flying but I want to be able to meet with my friends and family once in a while, ideally before I hit some sort of mental health breakdown. But flying makes me feel depressed too. If I had been more conscious and knowledgeable about the environmental crisis earlier in my life, I would have done everything not to fall in love with someone that lives far away. But I can't go back in time.
I am aware that this makes me a privileged person amongst an already privileged group of people. I am not here to complain and my apologies if it sounds like it. I just wonder, perhaps you have been in contact with expats who experience a similar situation. I would be very curious to know how they cope. Any advice is welcomed! I need to solve this issue someday, since I can't go on like that forever.
Now talk about what we should do when we have FRIENDS who won't stop flying despite their progressive values and politics?
Very cool to hear that there are over 1000 subscribers! Wow!
This topic of whether 'shame' is important in behavioral change has been something we have discussed in my circles and the report you mentioned was one reason we thought shame wasn't so important - so I really appreciate the point you make about how the way we formulate the reasons in hindsight might be different!!
Coming from a social media activist perspective, I actually think there is a role in public 'shaming' (or critiquing) high profile flyers eg Leonardo Dicaprio taking private jets etc. But totally agree that shaming private persons personally can just lead to conflict and potential backlash.
Maybe a future topic that would be interesting to hear about on this topic is how to navigate having a conversation about this (seems to be a repeated notion also in some of the other comments?)