I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of person. For me, if I want to make a change, I usually just do it. Sometimes it takes a while. A couple of attempts.
Changes can be really hard for any of us, regardless of whether they are big or small. We are creatures of habit. Our brains have evolved to rationalize and are full of cognitive biases. I’m no different.
My 2020 resolution is not to fly… in order to minimize my carbon pollution.
Wait! What is Stocking doing? That’s absurd, you say. It would never work for me. What is he thinking?
My first reaction is… not how do I do this, but how do I explain it to my friends and family, as if any personal choice really requires an explanation? Explanations sound like excuses or judgement in reverse. So forgive me.
Do I think this will make any difference in the grand scheme of carbon pollution? Not really. The airlines will just fill my seat with someone else.
Am I doing this to deflect being accused of climate hypocrisy? No. It’s a technique of climate deniers to shame people for their climate choices. You know, “You drive a car so you can’t be serious about the climate crisis.” None of us can live a pure carbon free life today. Climate is a collective issue that needs to be addressed on a massive scale by cities, states and national governments.
Is this a big sacrifice? Perhaps, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s a slight inconvenience. I’m looking forward to the benefits; avoiding long lines, poor service, having my personal space invaded and being exposed to a large Petri dish. But I’m not saying this is a big sacrifice.
Climate deniers cast change for the climate as a big sacrifice. Remember they are badmouthing the Green New Deal by claiming that someone will take your hamburgers away. Some choices are not sacrifices. For example, I didn’t have to do anything to help heal the hole in the ozone layer. We made collective decisions on refrigerants, and I can still keep my food cold. They use the same arguments against clean healthy renewable energy. I also didn’t really give up anything for doubling my mileage with a hybrid car.
Can’t I just buy carbon offsets? Yes, I have for past air travel and still do for traveling by car. But carbon offsets are like trying to buy absolutions to get into heaven. For me, it makes no sense to me to travel to some sacred place by air when it would require pumping 1-3 metric tons of carbon into the air. I imagine 3 tons of ripe shit waiting for me at my destination. Offsets aren’t going to solve the problem, they just make us feel better without really doing anything, and that’s a problem.
About as close as I can get to why… is that this decision is symbolic. My decision is a personal choice. Certainly not for everyone. But if you noticed this resolution and think it’s a big deal, then good.
I hoped you notice. The climate crisis is reaching terrifying proportions. Maybe this will cause you to think about what else you can do? Join me for a climate march? Get out the vote for climate candidates? Lobby your legislators? Dig a survival bunker? But you have to make your own choices. I just know that this makes me feel a little better. Acting might help you feel better too.
Because the real question might be… what are we going to do about the climate crisis? Ignore it? Hope it goes away? Or that someone else will deal with it? Belief in something doesn’t matter unless we act, and that is a personal choice. Time is running out. Each of us must decide individually and collectively whether to act.
‘We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
PS: The image above is a solar and wind powered airplane drawn by my 7 year-old grandson.
L. Hobart Stocking
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