would you stop flying to save the environment?

Posted on May 8, 2007


The BBC has this astonishing story – the Germans, known as one of the most intrepid globe-trotters, are cutting down on travels abroad, in the name of saving the environment.

To satisfy their travel lust, they’re going to other parts of Germany, the warmer coastal regions, mostly by trains so that they can cut down on flying, which happens to generate loads of carbon emissions.

I’m thoroughly ashamed.

I’m not sure if I can follow in their stellar footsteps. This, while I fancy myself a bit of an environmental protector, like doing my best to conserve energy, recycle, buy green products, etc. When we want to do good for the environment, it’s not about doing it only when it’s convenient to us, it’s about doing it nonetheless, right?

One of my first questions about the story was, how do they restrain themselves? My cynical side thought – hmm, maybe they have already traveled all over anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

But of course that couldn’t be. The world is such as humongous place that there’s no end to the places we could go and the things we could see.

These people are really doing it in good conscience. Yikes.

More atrociously, my next question was, why, as this world is huge, fascinating and beautiful, with so much more to be explored.

I have been bitten by the travel bug since my teens, when I made a trip to Australia and had the grandest time, staying in backpackers’ hostels, visiting all those famous sites and hopping on trains and buses to get from one city to the next along the east coast of Australia.

After that high, I vowed to myself that I’d slave, scrimp and save for the rest of my life to have enough money to travel to as many places as I can, before I die.

I’m still doing it now in my much older age, making an effort to travel at least twice a year, usually to a different place each time so that I’m on track in my goal.

It has been such an exhilarating experience. I have seen amazing sights, met incredible people and taken such treasured photos of my travels. I’ve been lost in so many places but the trick is to just go with the flow and explore wherever I happen to be stranded in and enjoy the moment. Every trip I have had is a matter of being more or less enjoyable, but never bad. All this is hard for me to let go of.

I know I could look at alternative ways of getting to the places I want to go. Buses and trains are some of the more harmless means of transport, compared to planes. I’m not proud to say that I couldn’t completely do as the Germans did. I wish I was a better person but travel is my Achilles heel. I guess that means I would just have to work harder in other aspects to offset this.

Posted in: bbc, environment, travel