Me, the shirker

This might be a bit of a rambling post, but here goes.

It starts off in response to the news that, due to Israel's insistence that all passengers on incoming flights to the country will be immediately put into a 14-day period of quarantine, the 'Champions of the Flyway' bird race - that is held in Israel - will now be missing the foreign teams that were due to arrive by plane. The ideas behind this bird race are sound - to raise awareness, and funds, for nature. But what has always struck me as, well, hypocritical, is that a large number of teams fly in to take part. Surely a 'green' event should not encourage the use of air travel. Does that sound fair? But then that devil on my shoulder chimes in, pointing out that the flights that the teams were going to take were going to fly whether they had booked places on them or not. But does that miss the point?

If we, as eco-tourists, all decided not to fly overnight, the big air companies might notice a drop off on certain routes, but it wouldn't dent their income too much. Those that would suffer the most, particularly in the poorer countries that are visited, would be the hotels, lodges and guides that rely on foreign patronage. I have heard this used as an argument as to why we should carry on flying around the world to get our birding fill.

A question. Because we are a group of people who, through our connection with the natural world, understand the implications of climate change on the environment, should we be more morally obliged to not fly? Do holidaymakers and business people have a certain immunity from this moral conundrum because they don't really have such an understanding connection?

In an ideal world I would not fly, or drive a car, not eat red meat or buy products that are derived from goods that contribute towards deforestation (or are produced using products that are a part of the climate change problem.) I reckon I could give it a go. So why don't I? I'm not a frequent flyer (helped by a phobia it must be admitted), we own two cars, we eat little red meat and are careful in what we buy as to its provenance. That's a lot more than others, but still not enough. Where does my reluctance to go the whole hog come from? A certain discomfort? Not wanting to rely on public transport? Too much effort? Because my wife will not give up the car?

So if I'm shirking my own responsibilities, who am I to call out those who fly regularly to birdwatch, drive across country to twitch a bird, go to McDonald's every day and buy products full of palm oil?

If we all have to self-isolate because of the Coronavirus we may be putting a lot of this into action anyway. It might be a positive thing for the environment, albeit a very small one. Maybe some of us will carry on with it after the curfews are lifted, but I wouldn't hold my breath.


John said…
Steve, don't beat yourself up. Humans like most animals are not altruistic and until it hits them directly are quite happy to ignore any threat. When Extinction Rebellion is declared a terrorist group you know that we are all doomed.
Gibster said…
Just briefly touching on your opening paragraph, Steve - why dignify Israel with any visiting parties at all? What they are doing to the Palestinians is disgusting and, in any other country less pally pally with the Americans, they'd be aggressively persuaded to change their ways. Ditto Saudi Arabia. In fact, include Britain in the league of 'dirty' friends. Maybe coronavirus will wipe out all politicians, we can but hope.
Derek Faulkner said…
Basically, the point that comes out of your post is the fact that it isn't really that easy to be green or have a low carbon footprint - giving up what we're used to isn't that easy. OK, it's easy enough to stop eating red meat but do away with the car and walk or cycle, not fly abroad for the annual holiday - no chance. I had to chuckle at all those school children that attended that speech by that Greta girl a couple of weeks ago and followed her like some Pied Piper. Not only did they reduce beautiful lawns to a sea of liquid mud but I wonder how many of them still go abroad with their parents each year, or get driven to school in a car.
I wonder whether Firms will reevaluate business travel after this, after realising that they can do without it for weeks and months. That would reduce the number of flights.
I like to travel for pleasure as you probably know, and 2020 is looking very different to how I planned it. Let's see how much I miss it.
Steve Gale said…
Thank you all for your comments. The current travel restrictions will most probably be lengthened so, as Jono’s says, firms and individuals might well come to some soul-searching conclusions when we return to normal. My week in the south of Spain in early April is now a no-goer. As much as I was looking forward to it, in the grand scheme of things it is little to get disappointed about.

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