Monday, 27 October 2008

Shock, horror, not a lot of flying

I recently spent a very enjoyable hour being interviewed by Dr. Doug Beck of the American Academy of Audiology (you can see an 'edited highlights' transcript here). In a subsequent exchange of emails Dr. Beck was surprised to discover I've only flown once in the last 15 years.

I put that down to two things. First, I spent a good few years working at British Airways, during which I did more than enough flying for a lifetime. And second I have increasingly been writing on green issues, and I think there's something worrying and possibly hypocritical about someone who encourages people to be green, then flies everywhere at the drop of a hat.

It is a difficult decision if you want to write about climate change. In his enjoyable book Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, writer Fred Pearce tries to justify the fact that he flies thousands of miles a year with the defence that he's doing it in a good cause. I think increasingly that excuse doesn't wash. With Skype video calls, all the power of the internet and more, I'd suggest that nine out of ten research jollies could be avoided now, but the fact is people haven't got out of the habit of easy flight and are prepared to fool themselves that it doesn't matter what they do if they're doing it in a good cause. They're wrong.

Now I'm not saying I'll never fly again - and if I do, the chances are it will be for work. But if people writing about green issues can't keep down their flying to below the national average and make a point, who is going to bother to change?

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