Friday, May 16, 2008

The Flying Man

I'm sitting in my room looking over the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I'm in Laguna Beach, which I like a lot for a beach town. From my corner perch I see the large waves roll in, and being only a few yards from the water's edge, the waves are loud and powerful.

Earlier today, a community enviro leader and friend called and wanted to chat. It seemed that another friend and often guest at my roomy house in Texas was concerned about the amount of lights that I leave on. It is true. I leave lights on all the time. One reason I do, is to confuse folks about my presence there. Being close to the University, it's not the best neighborhood, and I've had luck over the years creating the illusion that somewhere is there all the time.

And I almost always leave the radio on.

Since I'm a very good communicator and often good with words, I chose to respond to this apparent criticism with the well articulated response, "Tell her to go f#>k herself, I'm on the green rate"

Knowing that my friend trots off to Washington to lobby many times a year, that she drives in from the country, and knowing that she is not on any zero carbon green rate herself, (through no fault of her own, I doubt if her coop utility offers a green rate) I felt confident that her carbon footprint was well outside mine.

I live within 20 or so blocks of work, and I move around a fairly small area of the original city. I don't drive a hybrid, but my Chevy does drop down to 3 cylinders while on the highway, and I'm riding my bike more and more.

But really, if you want to grow your footprint. Fly.

Here's a
handy carbon calculator that will help make the point. It's simple and the numbers change as you change the values. Still, even with 0 carbon from my electricity purchases, my carbon footprint is about twice the national average.

And it's because I fly. (that's why we flyers should buy
carbon offsets)

part of a piece by Richard Heinberg that makes you think that we won't have to buy them for long, because the era of cheap flight is coming to an end.

Saying Goodbye to Air Travel
14 May 2008

The airline industry has no future. The same is true for airfreight. No air carrier has a viable plan to make a profit with oil at current prices—much less in years to come as the petroleum available to world markets dwindles rapidly.

That’s not to say that jetliners will disappear overnight, but rather that the cheap flights we’ve seen in the past will soon be fading memories. In a few years jet service will be available only to the wealthy, or to the government and military. (clip)

There are good reasons to cut down on air travel voluntarily: flying not only swells our personal carbon emissions but spews CO2 and other pollutants into the stratosphere, where they do the most damage. However, the worsening scarcity of the stuff we use for making jet fuel takes the discussion out of the realm of optional moral action and into that of economic necessity and personal adaptation.

I fly to educate both general audiences and policy makers about fossil fuel depletion; in fact, I’m writing this article aboard a plane en route from Boston to San Francisco. I wince at my carbon footprint, but console myself with the hope that my message helps thousands of others to change their consumption patterns. This inner conflict is about to be resolved: the decline of affordable air travel is forcing me to rethink my work. I’m already starting to do much more by video teleconference, much less by jet. (clip)

Our species’ historically brief fling with flight has been fun, educational, and enriching on many levels to those fortunate enough to benefit from it. Saying goodbye will be difficult. But maybe as we do we can say hello to greater involvement in our local communities."

I'm glad I can get up at six in the morning, drive to the airport, and arrive on the left coast before nine in the morning. I love flying to Paris on Christmas Eve day. I hate to think that the era that started when I was a child will only be a brief blip in history.

I suspect it won't be. But if we don't figure it out, it's going to be

Bye, Bye Birdie
to the Flying Man




Blogger Charlie Loving said...

Blimps..Zeplins... and trains.

2:36 PM  

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