I'm not trying to guilt you out. Even by today's standards I've been as much a sinner as most.
A study finds that air travel is a major contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions. A single long-haul return holiday trip produces more carbon emissions per passenger than the entire annual GHG output of citizens of dozens of countries.
For example, I have a daughter who now lives in Amsterdam. She's insistent that I fly out to be with her and her beau. The calculator shows that Vancouver YVR to Amsterdam Schiphol return equals 1,284 kg. of CO2, more CO2 than the average citizen produces annually in 66 countries.
This comes at a point where air travel is expected to set another record this year.
2019 is forecast to be another record-breaking year for air travel, with passengers expected to fly a total of 8.1tn km, up 5% from last year and more than 300% since 1990.Air travel is expected to increase three-fold over the next three decades. If designers succeed in developing more fuel-efficient aircraft, total emissions will still double by 2050.
“The increase in traffic has historically outpaced the improvements in technology,” says Dr John Broderick, who researches climate policy and international transport at the University of Manchester.When I did a lot of air travel it was mainly in the 60s and 70s. Air travel was far different back then. For starters, there was less of it. People didn't venture quite so far away from home for work or play. Relocating to live in Europe was more of a luxury back then than it has become today. There was no "cattle class" as we have today. And there were a lot fewer people to travel - our population has more than doubled since the 70s.
What to do, what to do? I certainly don't know. Flying has become so deeply integrated into today's way of life in the developed countries that it's hard to even imagine what our lifestyle would be like without it. Yet we know that if there is to be a viable climate for future generations 'doing without' is the key.
The prescription calls for global emissions to be cut in half by 2030 and few of the big emitters are even in that ballpark. Then, if we somehow do manage that first target, we'll have just 20 years in which to cut the remaining half. That means decarbonizing our economies, decarbonizing our societies.
There's already discussion about rationing air travel. You might have to choose between laying on a beach in Hawaii or showing your respects at Aunt Tilley's funeral. Tough choice, eh?