COP21 and Air Travel

Earlier I criticized the COP21 agreement for accomplishing nothing to reduce the climate change threat and for leading uninformed citizens to believe things are moving in a positive direction.

It gets worse. I just learned that COP21 does not require countries to reduce air travel.

Long distance travel is one of the most disgraceful things we do as humans. It consumes large quantities of non-renewable fossil energy and releases large quantities of CO2 for a discretionary luxury we call vacation.

Long distance travel is a relatively new phenomenon. Travel was rare or non-existent for most people in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. During this period the downslope of oil production and the threat of climate change were not in sight, yet we traveled very little, and were at least as happy as today. Hawaii might have been a once in a lifetime trip for a special occasion like a 25th anniversary.

Today the remaining expensive to extract oil is constraining growth which underlies our global economic problems, and climate change threatens the lives of our children, yet we travel more than ever. Most people think they are entitled to travel, and many link their happiness to a mega annual vacation.

It’s obscene.

I went to a climate change meeting of concerned citizens. I proposed we target the high schools to stop their current practice of flying the graduating class to some far away location each year. When I was in high school in the 70’s our big annual trip was to take a yellow school bus to the West Coast Trail and hike for 5 days. No one supported my proposal. “Our children have a right to travel”.

This issue is deep. I have immediate family and close friends that have some understanding of the unfolding climate change disaster yet refuse to change their lifestyles on something as simple and painless as stopping long distance travel.

This behavior might be understandable if they have rationally concluded that climate change is unstoppable and will cause human extinction regardless of what we do, which by the way is quite possibly true, however I don’t think these people have given up.

They just don’t want to make any meaningful sacrifices.

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