21. 06. 2007

List your flights!

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Comments (25)

Thanks to Chris and Caroline for the challenge ('Flights of fancy?'). No problem about that (see below) as I believe any activists / champions in this area need to be up front about their own carbon footprint. As you’ll see, I fly a lot. 21 times in the last year, in fact, or 42 flights in total.

There are no personal flights included in the list below, as I have taken none, but as Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Co-Director of The Prince of Wales’s Business & the Environment Programme – both organisations having a substantial international reach – and Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, with a predominantly UK remit, there are many times in the year when I have little choice other than to fly.

There’s rather more too it than that. I have spent 35 years getting quite good at articulating this sustainability stuff and (hopefully) inspiring others to get things sorted out themselves. I am nearly 57 years old now, and have decided to just ‘go for it’ for the next three years, to help press every (influential) button I can during that time. So, once I have judged that an opportunity is worth pursuing (strategically), then how I get there is a secondary – albeit still very important – issue. When I can use video-conferencing, I do. When I can use the train in the UK, and time allows, I always do. I don’t have a car.

Do I feel guilty about all that? Absolutely not. Do I feel responsible for making sure that decisions are taken conscientiously and that the resulting impacts are managed properly? Absolutely! That’s why all three of the organisations mentioned above take offsetting extremely seriously – not as a perfect solution, it has to be said, but not the kind of flaky, guilt-assuaging cop-out that so many people think offsets represent.

JP Flights: July 2006-June 2007

UK
Aberdeen x3
Belfast x4
Edinburgh x2

Europe
Oslo x1
Amsterdam x2
Zurich x1
Crete x2
Malaga x1
Berlin x1

International
Hong Kong / Beijing x1
Houston x1
Vancouver x1
Cape Town x1

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Comments

21. 06. 2007
Francis Meynell

Once we all begin to strategise in the way you do, Jonathon, someone then will (and has to) discriminate between different sets of purposes and interest groups, evaluating which are the more appropriate, and worthy of investment / funding / incentivising / privileging etc. Enter the politician... Will you go back into politics, or are you being more effective flying here and there in your current roles? (This of course depends on how you evaluate influence. Have you found the right methodology to evaluate this, perchance?)

21. 06. 2007
Biff Vernon

Yeah, remember that the fuel you save by not flying will be used somewhere else in the economy. We are not going to beat the post Peak Oil depletion curve. If your use of oil is more important than the next guy's, then use it. And if it's to help drive the message that the carbon in coal and unconventional oils has to stay in the ground, that's a great use.

24. 06. 2007
Calvin

I wonder if you are being honest when you say that you don't feel guilty.
---

Offseting if done properly is MORE ethical than saving carbon by spending loads on home improvements. It is effective allocation of capital. Yet, greens don't accept this at all. Why? I personally do, but because of the views of my friends i have some sort of emotional inability to fly, logically i know it's stupid but social influences are strong!

Admitedly we have a crisis here so you could argue that we should be doing all that we can, the implication of that, however is that we are spending as much of our spare cash as we can on offsets to maximise co2 emissions reductions...I don't think many people are doing this or are strongly advocating it despite the fact that it seems to be the logical adjunct to the idea that we should do all we can...and if people don't hold that view (i.e we have a responsibility not to do evil rather than to actively do good) then they really need to stop slagging off offsets!

So my point was, I`d be amazed, knowing your background if you didnt feel guit for flying even if you shouldn't...perhaps you move in different circles now?

28. 06. 2007
Chris Bluemel

Sorry Jonathon, I do respect your environmental credentials, especially not having a car, but it is with some horror that I notice that all but five of your flights listed above are within Europe. Nine of them are even within the UK. In other words, you are flying distances easily reachable by train.

The UK is simply too small an island for domestic flights to be necessary - there are countries in other parts of the world far bigger than the UK with no domestic flights. Yet when such bastions of sustainability like yourselves use the plane for such journeys, it makes persuading others to use the train all the more difficult.

29. 06. 2007
Michael Nidd

Methinks he doth protest too much. Off setting is rapidly being revealed as, in most cases, a fraud, amounting to the equivalent of buying indulgences: mere conscience money. If Mr. Porritt was serious about reducing his carbon contribution the answer is simple: FLY LESS FREQUENTLY.

29. 06. 2007
Jonathon Porritt

(Re Calvin and Francis Meynell)

Thanks for two such reasonable responses on me entering the confessional on the amount of flying I do – I was rather expecting to be buried in bucket loads of vituperative loathing!

To Calvin and guilt (which do quite naturally go hand in hand!), I’ve been searching my emotional state of mind, and I can honestly say guilt really isn’t in there. There’s something more than “responsibility”, that’s true, but perhaps regret captures it more accurately.

The lack of guilt is not because I’m dismissing the serious consequences of flying so much – I’m one of those who really do believe that every little bit either helps or hinders in terms of the big global picture. I think it’s more because I’m relying on a double offset: a direct offset in terms of the investments made by Forum for the Future, the Sustainable Development Commission and the Prince of Wales’s Business & the Environment Programme to support projects that prevent the emission of at least as much CO2 as I’m emitting in flying, and an indirect offset in terms of mindsets moved and behaviours changed by sharing time with different people in different places. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but if I didn’t believe that was happening, I sure as hell wouldn’t be flying.

Which brings me to Francis: has Forum for the Future developed a handy “influencometer”? Sadly not. But we do work really hard to try and assess the overall impact of the work that we do with our Partners, including regular evaluation meetings, questionnaires and so on – we call it our “Transformation Index”. It’s not objective, but it generates a lot of qualitative insights for our staff working out how to raise our game.

(By the way, I’m not sure how many other charities go to such lengths to work out if they’re using their donors’ money in an effective way!)

“Will I go back into politics?” I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m still up to my eyeballs in politics (even if not party politics), just as I’m still up to my eyeballs in education even though I stopped being a front-line teacher in 1984!

01. 07. 2007
Calvin Jones

Is flying within the UK never necessary? Click my link for a recent experience I had booking train tickets. And then decide.

05. 07. 2007
Andrew Miles

Can we assume that the longhaul flights were all in economy class?

09. 07. 2007
Caroline

Jonathon.

Your response to Chris Bluemel highlights the real problem - your life is unsustainable.

Your diary is too full. You're already away from home far too much.

You're trying to move too fast; be in too many places; using the wrong tools. You're being inefficient and wasteful in the way you work.

Now you've named your flights, please name your chosen offset partners, how many tonnes you have offset, the cost of them and the projects they support. Thank you.

Question every flight.

06. 08. 2007
Caroline

Why carbon offsetting is a load of hot air

By Emma-Lou Montgomery

http://money.uk.msn.com/mymoney/ethicalmoney/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5817200

August 06 2007

Hurray! We have a solution. Now there’s no need to get into arguments at dinner parties about why you still drive a four-by-four. There’s no need to feel guilty about flying halfway round the world a few times a year.

And there’s absolutely no need to traipse around the house before going to bed switching off every electrical gadget you can find. Keep driving, keep flying, keep it all plugged in. Because carbon offsetting is THE answer to climate change.

The concept of carbon offsetting is simple. Instead of cancelling that weekend break in New York because of fears you’re contributing to climate change by flying, you carry on as normal and just pay a small sum to a company to plant a tree on your behalf.

After all, why change your lifestyle when you can pay your way out of the climate change problem? “Global warming’s not my fault”, you can boast as you jet off yet again. “I carbon offset’”
But in truth, you are at fault and all you’re offsetting is your guilty conscience.

The idea that you can salve your conscience and repair the damage you’re doing with a one-off payment is total and utter claptrap. And how middle class it is - this notion of paying peanuts to someone in a developing country to make right your wrongs. And frankly it’s ludicrous.

As Dr Andrea Collins, an expert in sustainability from Cardiff University, says: "Taking a flight and planting a tree does not add up. It does not make it all right. It is having your cake and eating it."

Pop goes the carbon offset bubble

But like it or not, carbon offsetting is the buzzword of the noughties. It’s trendy to go ‘carbon neutral’. Just look at the celebrity turnout at Al Gore’s Live Earth extravaganza.

It’s only when you look at the actual facts behind the ‘carbon neutral’ hype that the hypocrisy of Live Earth comes to light. Take Madonna. She might have flounced onto the stage as a modern day ‘mother earth’, but she and her fellow superstars are estimated to have totted up an extraordinary 222,623.63 air miles between them getting to the various concerts. That’s a distance nearly nine times the circumference of the world.

John Buckley of Carbonfootprint.com estimates the total carbon footprint of the event in London alone is likely to be at least 31,500 tonnes of carbon emissions. That’s going to take more than a few trees and certainly more than a bucketful of energy-saving light bulbs to put right. If you even believe it can.

As Dr John Barrett, from the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York says: "The idea that you can offset the pollution you cause is just ridiculous. Planting trees or investing in renewable energy does not reverse the damage of releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the environment.

"It is far better not to pollute in the first place. Carbon offsetting can be a removal of guilt, but it is not an effective one," he adds.

Multi-million pound industry

But for now at least, carbon offsetting is trendy and it’s also popular. And that can only mean one thing – that it’s highly profitable too.

A multi-million pound industry has sprung up out of the guilt created by grim predictions of global warming. In a recent survey, research agency Ciao found that 73% of the British public would be willing to pay £5 to offset carbon emissions for a short-haul flight and £15 for long-haul.

Yet a study funded by the US-based non-profit organisation Clean Air-Cool Planet says it’s impossible to state categorically that buying any carbon offset will neutralise the damage that flying causes to the atmosphere. They say holidaymakers are being misled by companies who offer to repair the damage flights do to the atmosphere.

But supposing, just for a minute, that handing over a fiver could actually undo the environmental damage your flight will do, shouldn’t we pile more money into the problem?

The problem here is that the entire carbon offset calculation is a guesstimate, and not one even the carbon offset specialists agree on. For instance, Climate Care works on the basis of a £7.50 charge for every tonne of Co2 produced. So if you wanted to offset the 2.1 tonnes of Co2 generated by driving 8,000 miles a year in a car with a fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon you would have to pay £15.75.

MyCarbonDebt.com puts the carbon emission at 2.2 tonnes and says it would cost £25.96 to offset - that's £12.25 per tonne. While, PURE (the only registered charity in the carbon offsetting field) puts the carbon emissions at 2.6 tonnes and says it would cost £36.40 to offset, which equates to £14 per tonne.

All this just makes me wonder how long it will be before some nifty price comparison site crops up, allowing you to ‘shop around’ and save yourself a few quid at the same time as easing your conscience.

Doing your bit

The fact is that if you are going to carbon offset you have to be realistic about what you’re really achieving. As Ru Hartwell from treeflights.com says, at best all carbon offsetting achieves, is a mere drop in the vast climate change ocean.

"I have planted my land with trees and I heat my home with wood rather than fossil fuels. If anyone was carbon-neutral it would be me, but I'm still nowhere near.”

The reason planting a tree is sold as an effective way to reduce your carbon emissions is because trees soak up carbon in the atmosphere.

Hartwell explains: "I'm trying to do it right, but what some carbon offset companies have been doing is taking money from the public, then claiming more money for tree-planting under the Woodland Grant Scheme. They then plant their trees on land they don't own. The landowner could harvest the trees well before they had offset your emissions.''

Big for business

However, as the climate change issue grows (and it will continue to do so at a rate of knots if we continue in our flippant ‘repair the damage with cash’ way) then being perceived to be ‘green’ will be important. Especially for businesses.

By virtue of what they do, many companies have no chance of becoming carbon neutral. But they can acknowledge the damage they’re causing and act accordingly – by carbon offsetting, and so on. It might cost them a few quid, but they know that’s money well spent. As more and more consumers feel compelled to switch to companies they perceive as being the most environmentally friendly, those who ‘do their bit’ will be favoured.

Cynical or not, green equals profits, as a piece of research by the Institute of Business Ethics highlights. It claims that companies with a public commitment to ethics perform better on three out of four measures than those without. It says these companies also have 18% higher profits on average.

Question the hype

If you must carbon offset then Mike Rigby, managing director of carbon offset provider Co2 Balance, advises you ask a few questions before handing over your cash. Firstly, ask if you will be contributing to a new project? "Projects that are up and running already are unlikely to shut down and don't need more money thrown at them," he says.

Then ask what percentage of funding for the project will come from carbon offsetting. He says it should be at least 50%. "If it's 3%, you can bet the additional funding could have come from a bank," he adds.

And Phil Wolski from PURE says don’t automatically think Certified Emission Reduction schemes are failsafe. He says while they might be backed by the UN, they usually operate on an industrial scale and can falter due to bad planning. He claims the only way you can really ensure your money is well spent is to use a provider (like PURE) that will hold the funds until the level of carbon offset is confirmed.

If you ask me there are better ways to save the planet than carbon offsetting. But these do involve a lifestyle change. So if you can’t live without four square holidays a year look away now.

If you can though, you can do your bit for climate change. Cut down on flying and adapt your life to take in some other small changes too. Things such as car sharing, or better still walking, make a difference to your carbon emissions, as does switching off electrical items when they’re not in use, recycling paper and packaging, hanging out your washing out, rather than using a drier and eating locally-grown produce whenever you can.

OK, you’re not going to save the planet overnight, but then you’re not going to do the planet any good at all by paying a fiver as penance for your fortnight on the Costas.

01. 10. 2007
Bryan Metcalfe

Jonathan - you say "when I can use video-conferencing - I do,"

Be interested to know how often that is and how many flights (or other journeys) you have saved in the process.

29. 06. 2007
Caroline

Bravo Jonathon. Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Your lack of car ownership is welcome, although with all that time in the air, you can't have much time to get behind the wheel. No doubt you make up for it with taxis and private cars.

But let's take a look at the actual emissions here. Assuming average annual mileage in a fuel efficient vehicle, any true emissions saving would be around two tonnes of CO2.

“Each of us in the UK is responsible for producing about 11 tonnes of CO2 each year. We can try to make a difference by cutting down that figure … by flying less often.” - Sir David Attenborough, The Sun, 4th June 2007.

Your listed flights emit 11 tonnes on their own.

Sustainable? No.

Especially given the fact that by 2050, there will be nine billion people on the planet. The greenhouse gas reductions goal we must achieve by then will mean that each person on the planet will be able to emit just ONE tonne of CO2 per year.

You talk about inspiring others through 'articulating', but as you know, actions speak louder than words. You can articulate to the entire world via the web now, although a search under your name on youtube brings up no results. Try 'Ray Anderson'. Use the tools to hand.

When delivering your Sustainability Masterclasses, you could show business leaders millions of £'s of savings through sustainable transport strategies. There are huge areas of carbon obesity to be cut there. And that means changing behaviour away from one of the most polluting forms of transport, planes.

Quite simply, start by questioning every flight.

Through questioning the flight you'll usually find an alternative before splashing out on the business class ticket. It could be the phone, the webcam, or the train. Distant family members often pop into mind here. A UK friend used to visit her mum in Australia twice a year. Now she sees her once a year, saves five and a half tonnes of CO2 and at least £1,000 in the process ... AND sees her every week via a free video-camera call on her laptop.

Chris comments on your short-haul flights. The looming disaster is cheap long-haul. Flying is the new smoking and carbon obesity problem all wrapped into one.

Welcome to the next leg of your journey. Let's hope the next three years see you become the change you want to see in the world. Or maybe not as the case may be, noting your partnerships via Forum For the Future with BAA (who own all the major airports) and Virgin Atlantic.

As a child I used to read your book 'Save the Planet' and be inspired by it. Branson had a quote in that book I seem to remember. Now I find myself saddened.

In another of your blog postings you talk of creating epiphanies. Maybe your next epiphany will be beside Richard Branson, aboard a Virgin Galactic flight, looking down on pricelessly precious planet earth, just like the original astronauts did, thereby helping to give birth to the environmental movement.

But where have we arrived since the first astronaut went into space over 45 years ago? Far beyond the limits of planet earth's capacity to sustain us as a species, not forgetting the species we have already condemned to the history books and the huge number to be wiped out by climate change.

Must dash as it's time to get in the queue for an i-phone.

05. 07. 2007
Philip Booth

The debate about these flights is a distraction, what we really need to focus on is that our Government still hasn't grasped the urgency or the need for radical changes. The present rate of growth in air traffic is unsustainable, yet we still see plans for doubling air travel and more. The truth of it is that we must cancel all airport expansions. Yes we do need people to take responsibility - but much more important is the need for the Government to take a lead. Individual actions to tackle climate change are great but will never go far enough.

We need action to make those who pollute pay for their damage and 'green' choices to be made easier if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change: travelling the same journey by train would have meant 17 times fewer CO2 emissions. A weekend in Prague should not be cheaper than a weekend in Bournemouth.

Green campaigners constantly risk accusations of being hypocrites. Yet life is full of grey areas and being pure and virtuous is never as easy, nor perhaps even as desirable, as it might appear. We have seen climate change campaigners like Ken Livingstone and Al Gore similarly have their CO2 emissions challenged. It seems that if you can smear the person, then you can also undermine the message. Such smears can damage: prominent people who might support green causes don't speak out for fear of having their supermarket bills fished out of their bin. Indeed every time a 'green hero' is shot down, we all feel that little bit more cynical about our politicians and leaders.

Meanwhile greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and rise. As Climate Change author Mark Lynas wrote: 'Being a purist may be comforting, but it is unlikely to change the world.'"

18. 03. 2008
sonya bhonsle

Do you offset your flights? Is this through climate care? (Where you advise i think?).

Out of curiosity do you purchase CERs or VERs? (Are you in line with the code of best practise?)

What would you recommend us public do when looking to offset a flight?

21. 05. 2008
Caroline

Aviation impacts 'hotly disputed'
By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst

"UK ministers have been urged to halt airport expansion until the true costs and benefits of the proposed increase in flying are properly understood."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7411184.stm

05. 07. 2007
Cathy Green

Dear Jonathan,

I would just like to say that when the Gloucestershire Echo phoned me up this week to ask for my comments on this piece on your blog, the emphasis of my response was in support of the work you do to raise awareness and raise the profile of the issue of climate change and I was very keen that I was not seen to be undermining a fellow environmentalist in any way. Unfortunately the emphasis of my comments on the printed page has come out as rather stern and although you obviously would not be able to call yourself a 'One Tonner' (the One Tonners is actually an aspirational goal anyway rather than a group, which I took great pains to explain to the Echo during our conversation) I said that you were nowhere near as bad as many of our celebrities with their frequent flights on private jets, such as Coldplay and David Beckham et al.

However, the main aim of the One Tonners is to create an aspiration in people to become low carbon livers and one of the easiest ways to do this is to cut out flying.

I do realise that to be green in our society is also to be seen as 'greener than green' and that is almost impossible for anyone who is serious about campaigning to do. We are all doing our best with whatever resources and influence we can muster - best of luck as humanity sure is running out of time now and fast.

Cathy Green
http://theonetonners.blogspot.com

06. 07. 2007
Jonathon Porritt

To Chris Bluemel:

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it: no flights within the UK, or even Europe.

It’s not quite like that. When I fly within the UK, I do it because time pressures dictate that I have to fly. Mostly I go by train (apart from Belfast) when I always fly), and I obviously haven’t referred to all the journeys I make by train. I fly either because of diary constraints which mean I don’t have time to go by train, or because I’m protecting family time – as I’m already away from home far too much.

Far from “protesting too much”, I’m just pointing out some of the very tricky realities of leading the kind of Iife I do today, where every minute of every day is either very full-on, or proper time-out. We all have difficult balancing acts to perform, and this is mine.

As to Michael Nidd’s comments that almost all offsets are a fraud, that’s just an intellectually lazy slander, a bit of knee-jerk idiocy that allows you to indulge yourself in your wonderfully black and white moral absolutism. Offsetting is a new, highly dynamic market. As you will expect, the quality of offsets (and offset providers) spans a wide spectrum, with high-quality “gold standard” offsets at one end and totally crap offsets at the other end.

So, as in all things caveat emptor. But do your homework, before defaulting to sweeping condemnation. That really won’t help anybody and won’t help people who need to get to grips with the residual carbon emissions to find a way of dealing with them.

17. 07. 2007
Jonathon Porritt

(Response to Caroline July 9th)

Bravo Caroline – you could condescend for Britain, you know. What a fantastic line in holier-than-thou preaching – exactly the kind of moralizing that I’ve tried to avoid throughout my life.

As to your questions, we offset all our emissions through Climate Care. Unfortunately, because of my completely unsustainable lifestyle, and inefficient, wasteful way of working, I don’t have time to answer the other questions. I suspect you may, in your perfectly regulated, morally unambiguous world have plenty of time, so why don’t you check it all out on the Climate Care website and let me know. I’d be so grateful.

31. 07. 2007
Caroline

You need this level of moralizing. You probably need a preacher too. Why not take a note from some real preachers like the Bishop of London who has given up flying. Look in the mirror.

How difficult is it for you to say, 'Yes, from now on I will question every flight'?

Recognise that you are a carbon obese individual, living an inequitable, morally unjust, unsustainable lifestyle. You don't like the sound of that? Good.

You can't tell people to stop smoking with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.

Treading lightly on the earth? You are stamping all over it. You need to stop, wash your feet, change your shoes and socks. Look in the mirror. Then move forwards leading by example. Do as I do, not as I say. You'll feel so much better.

This is a time of climate crisis Jonathon. Not the multi-decade whimsical warm-up you've been involved with up to now. It's time for hard choices and real action. Not more books and CEO cuddle clubs.

As you wrote in your piece titled 'Four decades on, the moral message is still the same':

'What we do now, we do with "knowledge aforethought", dramatically raising the moral stakes both for politicians and for individual.'

Please don't waste anymore time on me. But if you can find the time to do one thing, try and find the time to question every flight.

02. 08. 2007
Caroline

Your own comments from your Population blog entry:

'If we don’t learn to live within those environmental limits (particularly in terms of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere), then Jonathon Porritts will not be out there campaigning for increased social justice. They will either be just about surviving (in God knows what kind of repressive political system) or not there at all.'

By 2050 the annual greenhouse gas 'limit' per person will be ONE tonne of CO2 (based on an inadequate 60% reduction goal and 9 billion people on the planet).

Off course by 2050 you won't be here at all.

Based on your 21 flights last year alone, plus your other emissions, neither will many more of us.

Question every flight. Use new ways of working.

03. 08. 2007
Kobaiyoshi

Caroline, this level of supposedly morally inspired eco-bashing tipifies everything that is wrong with the green movement.

The planets problems are more likely to addressed by articulate individuals who can communicate an issue in a number of different ways to a number of different audiences. For some the moral bashing may work but for others (the vast majority) it leads to a reactionary stance that is very unlikely to change behaviour.

Jonathon is a man capable of communicating on these many levels and hence has had a great deal of influence and continues to do so. the fact that his diary is full is indicative of this fact not indicative of an unsustainable lifestyle.

You ask him to question every flight, but it is quite obvious from the answers he has given that he does and that where it is possible he uses other forms of transport. But when he does fly it is becuase there is no viable alternative and that he believes there to be a definate benefit from him being where he needs to be.

I do not mean to sychophantically defend him, he is more than capable of defending himself, what I want to point out is your own inability to communicate solutions to big porblems without resorting to intellectually uninspired moral condemnation.

Question every criticism!!!! But more importantly question yourself.

03. 08. 2007
Caroline

Kobaiyoshi,

You sum it all up perfectly with 'question yourself'.

Only you will truly know if your lifestyle is outside the equitable limits of the earth's capacity to carry you.

If 'the vast majority' are moral bashing, then maybe they're angry with the immoral minority who take more than their fair share of the planet's resources and convert it into pollution and waste.

Yes, we should use different styles of communication for different audiences. But those within the green movement and especially those at its highest ranks should be able to handle the hard line. They need to be held to account too.

In most cases there are viable alternatives to flying. You don't always 'have to be there'. New technology enables you to be 'virtually' there. Eco pioneers should be on the frontline of testing, using and promoting such technology. Their personal behaviour should change others. That's the kind of reactionary stance we need. Behavioural change needs to happen fast.

Jonathon's articulations and communications can be hosted on the worldwide web for all to share. Not just high paying elite gatherings. Search on youtube.com. You'll find nothing from Jonathon personally. I guess he's far happier collecting the free flights, air miles, accommodation and speaking fees. Or selling books.

Regarding my own 'inability', you don't have to be too intellectually equipped to know if your personal footprint is unsustainable or not. And you can't honestly expect me to be inspired by Jonathon's carbon obesity. When you fly you dump tonnes of invisible and extremely dangerous rubbish into the atmosphere. Would you do that if everyone could see it? It's like to pouring dangerous chemicals into our drinking water.

You accuse me of moral condemnation, but who is really condemning who here? Carbon obese individuals are condemning those who have the least ... to death. And helping accelerate the extinction of countless other species. 160,000 people die a year from climate change, and rising.

Al Gore quotes Winston Churchill as saying, 'We are entering a time of consequences'. Every single thing each of us do has a consequence. And flying is one of the worst things we can choose to do.

In the absence of clean and safe aviation fuel, It is up to us to find alternatives to flying.

And to keep questioning.

Meanwhile, listen to the angry kid - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY7875_rv1s

10. 09. 2007
Ben

Jonathan - Having heard you speak live on two occasions (both of which you took trains to) I can say I am very glad you do go to such lengths to get out there, make these speeches, inspire so many people and challenge the likes of big business and politicians in the flesh, even if it does mean sometimes needing to fly.

Caroline - couple of thoughts:

I agree we should question every flight we take but there remain instances where flights are needed and no amount of phoning or video-phoning can substitute - one example that sprang to mind was the upcoming Bali conference to discuss a post Kyoto agreement. Yes it will cost millions of tons of carbon to get the delegates there and yes I am sure fewer delegates could be sent - but negotiations like these could not happen virtually, they have the potential to move us forward significantly and save billions of tons of carbon - sometimes flying is part of the solution not the problem.

Ben

09. 07. 2008
Ru Hartwell

Hi Jonathan,
Ru Hartwell from Treeflights here. I was quite dreadfully misquoted by one of the contributors above. Like you, I feel that every single tiny positive choice we make DOES make a difference. How else will we make the necessary changes?

On offsetting. There is no such thing as a perfect offset. It is just that even the worst of 'em are simply better than doing nothing if you are making the destructive choice to fly.

As for the assuagement of guilt/medieval indulgences argument.. Having spent the last 2 years doing little else than talk to ordinary people who are considering offsetting, my experience has been that far from coming from a motive of guilt, the vast majority of offsetters are simply looking for a way to diminish the damage they are causing to the atmosphere.

30. 04. 2012
Yasmin

Yea gas is a killer. 9 mhtnos later .it's gotten worse over here. I am paying double for what I used to.Good that you're being green. But you need the heat when it gets cold so don't turn it down too much:(It's common to use florescent lighting here. It's even more common to blast the AC 24/7. Since Jan, I sleep with the fan on. Sometimes I don't even turn it on and open my windows. Ppl think I'm nuts but look at the state of our enviro. I should stop leaving my comp on tho:(

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