Flying or Dying?

At the moment I’m undergoing training with Way of Nature UK which I’m enjoying very much. The training is subtle yet powerful. I find myself not thinking about it for a while but then thrown completely into its path.

I decided to take on the training before moving to Italy. It felt like the right thing to do. I also had the niggling knowledge that I would probably have to fly back to the UK for the two training modules, which were UK based. And I have a problem with flying.

I’m not scared of flying, I just have this extreme discomfort every time I think about this most polluting form of travel. I’ve tried the ‘fingers in ears’ method, i.e. try not to think about it but that doesn’t work. I’ve also tried justifying it to myself by saying that because I worked in environmentally friendly organic food for 12 years and am doing a nature based, low impact training which may lead to me teaching others to be more responsible about jumping on a plane for a weekend break.

No matter how I put this to myself I still come out with the same answer; “I should not be doing this.”

I believe that change begins with the individual. Having said that, how do I stop myself from booking flights to the UK for my next lot of training? Do I go by train, leaving my family for 2 days longer than the week I’ll be away for, and be out of pocket a further couple of hundred pounds or euros? I feel hamstrung by the situation. But I only have myself to blame.

Recently, I read a good article by the great, modern adventurer Alastair Humphreys, where he writes about the environmental cost of adventure and how we may be judged by future generations, who may see the abandon with which we pollute the world in search of adventure and new outdoor experiences as the greatest irony imaginable. I tend to agree and I’m really glad that the adventure industry has a spokesperson like him who asks these important questions.

I’m a reflector and I hate like being judged but I also don’t wish to hide my thoughts and feelings from the people around me, so I am writing what might be an unpopular piece of writing about air travel.

We can’t say it’s not polluting. We can’t say that we need to do it. We use it because it’s convenient and makes the world ‘smaller’. It also makes the world more dead.

I fly.

I am responsible for the impact I have on the world. We all are. Living in the world at this time, there is very little we do which doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. That’s a fact. Even organic food in the supermarket is wrapped in plastic and to make that food accessible to environmentally conscious people often requires hundreds, or even thousands of miles of transportation. Is this a joke? Nope.

So as I mull over the easyjet website looking at cheap flights in order to conveniently complete my training in a place about 2000km from where I live, I still have the question “what am I responsible for?” in my head. Can I use the excuse that I’ll use said training for the good of humanity, thus offsetting my carbon footprint? This is immeasurable for me, because it requires I justify it by something I have not, or may not even do. Or maybe I could use the work I’ve already done to justify it. Well, I might as well go one better and save the world from my bum on the seat of that plane right now.

I still haven’t decided.



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