News - July 5, 2012

Is flying bad for the enviroment and should we collectively boycott planes?

Marlies Bos (the left-wing fluffy type) and Jillis Herweijer (the right-wing Hooray Henry type) rarely see eye to eye on matters of politics, the environment or student life

Marlies: It's old news that flying is far and away the most polluting form of transport. Yet after the car it remains the favourite choice of holiday makers. Quite understandable in a way: if you want to go really far away all the other options take too long. But I still think we should ask ourselves: is it worth making even more demands on the environment, just because we feel the need for an exotic holiday? To want to do that once every few years, fine, but every year is over the top. Just like flying within Europe when you can get there in a day by train. And besides, it is high time we introduced a duty on kerosene; let's hope that somebody gets to work on that at last.
Jillis responds: Once every few years is fine but the rest is over the top? I hope you can accept that people like to make their own decisions about how often they go on holiday. And please, don't start on the subject of taxes. Eco taxes and banning everything are not effective approaches. It would be better to make kerosene more environmentally friendly than to milk the public even more in the name of moral superiority.
Jillis: Flying is bad for the environment, that's undeniably true. Holidays are actually bad for the environment full stop, because all of a sudden people have to travel from one place to another and if it isn't by plane it'll be by car. Besides, all sorts of holiday gear is bought that took resources and energy to make. Conclusion: humanity itself is by definition bad for the environment. So just hop on that plane and don't maintain the illusion that we in a collapsing Europe can contribute significantly to solving the environment problem. In the rest of the world people dump their rubbish in the water or on the street, burn junk on the doorstep, build coal-fired power stations and pump all the water out of the ground. So, all you idealists:  take that cheap flight and reconsider how realistic your ideals are.
Marlies responds: Okay, we as (selfish) humans are incapable of taking responsibility for this planet. I am not deluded into thinking that we in Europe are going to solve the problem just like that. But to throw all your ideals overboard is too easy; then nothing will ever change. To change the world, start by changing yourself - and old saying, but still very relevant.