Travel & the World

My increasing belief that prosperous nations must indeed change their ways in order to prevent future (not that far) total environmental catastrophe has led me on a journey to relinquish the travel I once held dear.

George Monbiot in his book, Heat, examines all aspects of modern-living to see if there is some way to reduce greenhouse emissions in the areas of life where we are accustomed to unprecedented luxury: hot showers, running water, electric lighting, retail, transport housing & the rather interesting phenomenom of the modern individuals expectation they they ought to be allowed unrestricted access to any corner of the globe.  I am speaking of aeroplane transportation.

In all areas Monbiot was able to find a suitable replacement system or source of energy which would, by and large, allow society to continue with most of its current activities…except in air transport.  The only practicable solution to that conundrum was simply: massively reduce flights.

He says, “We might buy eco-firendly washing-up liquid and washable nappies. But we cancel out any carbon savings we might have made ten thousand-fold whenever we step on to an aeroplane.  ”

Oh dear. If I am to stick to my principles I might have to give that longed for European adventure up for good, I may never be able to see the Canadian wilderness, I might not even be able to go to greenland, to do so would be anything but green.

On the plus side I can instead use the time I would have devoted to that pursuit toward enriching my own soil, investing in my own culture – isn’t that more worthwhile than a fling across the Pacific, after all?

Monbiot sums up a lot that I have already been convinced of regarding environmentalism: “Our efforts are tokenistic.  By and large, whatever our beliefs might be, we consume as much as our incomes allow. Environmentalism is for other people.”

It is a belief that I find pervasive, but I disagree with it. Environmentalism is for everyone in my mind.  We are ourselves creatures of this planet, from dust to dust. Like it or not we are made up of the same chemicals as other creatures and we are the smartest species (though perhaps not always the wisest…?), from a Christian point of view we have been ‘given dominion’.  To some that means we have been given a toy to play with, to exploit, to waste.  To me that means I have been given a responsibility to care for, to nurture, to love. I am accountable.

Sadly though, we humans seem unable to control our compulsive nature. Monboit again: ‘Manmade global warming cannot be restrained unless we persuade the government to force us to change the way we live.’

Therefore, like children or the overweight man at a health farm we are crying out for limits on our freedom, limits for our own safety and preservation, the limits we know we need, though we do not want, or cannot enforce them on ourselves.

The paradox of human desire, once again!


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