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General · 11th July 2009
Carrie & Barry Saxifrage
When friends and family ask us why we stopped flying, it’s hard to find a simple reply. “For the children,” or “It’s not sustainable” are broad-brush assertions that aren’t very explanatory.

When we looked closely at our carbon footprint, we were shocked that a single flight to California had nearly the same impact as our entire year’s transportation by car. Upon investigation, we found that a single morning of flying emits more greenhouse gases than an individual can expend in a year and stay within sustainable limits. Years of changing our light bulbs, cutting our electricity use, biking, driving less and more efficiently are wiped out in a single flight.

According to the most comprehensive and accepted scientific data, about one tonne per person is the maximum sustainable yearly CO2 emissions in the future. Anything beyond that will leave a legacy of dangerous
long-term climate chaos for our children and others to deal with. As we have worked to gracefully move our lives into this one-tonne future, we realized that our flying would never let us get anywhere close. For example, flying to Europe emits 6 years worth of sustainable levels of greenhouse gases in a single day.

If air travel becomes a sustainable option, we’ll be on the first plane! Until then, we’ve decided to forgo non-emergency flying. We miss flying, but we’re finding plenty of authentic pleasures in our escape from the
frenzied 20th-century lifestyle. We’ve traded “hyperspeed” travel for the breathing room to gracefully transition into a new, healthy, forward-looking 21st-century lifestyle that will sustain us.
I've sent this article to many 'frequent fliers'
Comment by Joe in Victoria on 9th October 2009
I've sent this article to many 'frequent fliers' I know due to its succinct and undeniable message. To my bewilderment, even when I couched a preface in the most neutral terms I could muster, the results I have gotten back have been either indignant and defensive, basically labeling me as a 'crank', or I've simply been dismissed without comment.

This self-justifying denial or dismissal is most discouraging. It does not mean you should in any way give up on your messages, but perhaps even deeper probing is necessary to get to the bottom of the problem, i.e. "consumer society" with its "entitlement", even our capitalist economic system itself.

In any case, keep up the essential good work.