Why I Don't Fly
Updated: Feb 10
Okay, I might have slightly click-baited you. I don't currently fly, however, if I need to for school/family emergencies I might reconsider my choice. Please read Conflicting Values for more.
So why don't I fly?
Well, because CO2 and water vapor emissions. And because I don't think planting trees is effective.
So why not offset?
Because a, offsets aren't reliable, and b, by buying the airplane ticket I am fueling the expansion of airports and airlines.
Firstly, why are airplanes so 'bad'?
Only 3% of the world flies. However, airplanes release more CO2 per mile than cars, and other forms of transport that relies on fossil fuels. Additionally, because the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are emitted so high up in the atmosphere, they stay trapped there for centuries, continually warming the air.
But airplanes don't make up that many emissions.
Whilst this is true, and the airline industry is only 5% of emissions, it has the worst individual impact on a carbon footprint, more than meat consumption for a year. Some stats claim that Trans- Atlantic flights reverse 20 years of recycling, or releases more GHGs than one year's worth of meat consumption.
So what's wrong with offsetting carbon emissions when it comes to the airline industry?
1- buying a plane ticket
When you buy a plane ticket, for whatever reason, you are contributing to the expansion of airports, airlines, the airline industry, the manufacturing of airplanes and the combustion of fuel that is released into the atmosphere. You cannot undo that action. That is also a personal choice, and not a choice that is necessarily wrong or right as there are conflicting values and this is a complex issue.
2- the problem with offsets:
The first problem with offsets generally is that there isn't enough offsets to solve climate change, we can't just continue to function in this over-consuming way as a society and use offsets as a scapegoat.
Secondly, carbon offsets don't really work. Yes, you read that right. Carbon offsets don't really work. Planting trees simply does not compensate for the amount of carbon that we produce by flying. And most offset schemes, trees in particular, don't actually last that long.
And finally, carbon offsets don't change my individual carbon footprint and funnel government resources away from important sustainability projects because governments expect offsets to 'reverse' carbon emissions, so that we can continue to live in a way that destroys our planet.
Thank you for reading.