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Going Direct: People Are Saying They’ll Stop Flying To Save The Planet

Jet Emissions
Contrails. Photo by pinta.t.s/Shutterstock
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I just got finished reading a piece on forbes.com by self-described futurist Blake Morgan, and it was an eye opener. Many people, she says, are declining to travel by plane because it uses too much fossil fuel. Moreover, she points out that globally in 30 years, aviation is slated to contribute 25% of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. She even shares that there’s a word in Swedish—flygskam—which I do not know how to pronounce, that Swedes use to describe their shame over flying. She uses as her source material an article on nbcnews.com that one in four Swedes have chosen not to fly over the past year.

Sweden, bear in mind, is a relatively small country with a good rail and ferry system. The choice Swedes have to make between traveling by rail and flying is a much different choice than most people in the world are faced with. I live in Austin, Texas, a large city about 200 miles south of Dallas, Texas. If there were decent high-speed rail between Austin and Dallas, would I choose train over plane? I would. Austin to Kansas City? No, thanks. And if we work my personal plane into the equation, my calculus changes. Truth is, I’d fly a 50-mile trip if it took me a 50-mile round-trip drive to do it. In fact, I’ve done it more times than I can count.

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