Pretty much anyone who knows me learns early on that I care about the environment. A lot. Like at the age of 25 I’m still not sure what name I should go by, but I know that working on environmental issues is what I will do with my life in some form or another, no question.
However, travel has been a huge part of my life, and it’s not exactly great for the environment. It’s also a huge part of this blog, hence an existential crisis about whether I’m doing more net harm than good.
I’m developing a campaign for my town to reduce carbon emissions and I’ve been reading a lot about the role of personal action in mitigating climate change. Air travel is a huge contributor to a person’s carbon footprint (the amount of carbon emissions someone’s responsible for).
As someone who’s second generation, I was born into flying more than my fair share. A large chunk of my family, including my grandparents, still live in India, meaning that ever since I was a baby, I’ve been flying halfway around the world to see the people I love. I also find myself feeling more and more at home here and know that I’m going to want to come back.
George Monbiot calls these “love miles: the distance you must travel to visit friends and partners and relatives on the other side of the planet.” While I know how privileged I am that my family prioritized this time and was able to afford to do so, I also wonder how I can cut my impact, especially since I’ve been spending the past couple of years gaining more and more love miles.
= infinity love miles. Goodbye planet Earth.
This guilt is absolutely a “first world problem”: the 2-3% of people who are able to take flights are responsible for 5% of global emissions. However, this is also a problem with worldwide impacts that are just going to get worse as air travel continues to expand. We need practical solutions. What to do?Read more