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.