flying kills: George Monbiot

Flying Kills…

Not going to make too many friends with this one. Heh heh.

The phrase ‘Flying Kills’ comes from George Monbiot, brilliant & massively articulate British writer/activist, who wrote a column with the title ‘We Are All Killers’ back in February 2006. You can find it on-line here

I myself have had a life-long “thing” with flying, having been born to a Canadian pilot father (bomber pilot during WWII, actually) & having flown about with considerable abandon in my younger days – back in those years when one was not thinking anything at all about one’s “carbon footprint.” Indeed, like the term “dysfunctional family,” the concept of carbon footprint had not yet been … invented.

But, times change, don’t they?

One becomes an environmental activist (or perhaps one does not; I, however, did!). And one digs further & further into one’s assumptions & attitudes & behaviour, & makes many changes, & chooses & learns gradually over the years to “live more with less,” & then eventually, one makes the fatal mistake one day of calculating one’s carbon footprint & learning how very much carbon one adds to it when one goes about taking off on airplanes, hither & yon. (& then one takes a very, very long bus ride to the other coast of Canada. Three nights on a bus. Challenging. Yet cheap. And, well, not so very, very bad…)


No one ever said life would be simple, yet I’ve always wished it would prove to be more so. Instead, it grows ever more complex by the day. Choices I used to make reflexively now need to be re-considered, & I find myself agonizing over actions I know others don’t give even a second thought.

To some degree, my life is simpler than other people’s. My income is very, very tiny – thus rendering thoughts of exotic vacations the stuff of other people’s dreams. I simply don’t think about flying here, there – or anywhere. For one thing, I made a pact with myself not to fly anymore. For another, I really can’t “afford” to do so anyway! One simplifies, & then things become simpler. (I know all the while, btw, that I may yet break my pact. Things happen, hmmm?? This life is like a wrestling match. It can turn on a dime… It’s complex, too. I know that.)

Meanwhile, I wish more of us would at the very least give some thought to such things as our driving & flying habits. A bit less…cavalier-ness. A little more thoughtful consideration.

The oil is running out. Climate change has become positively scary.

The status quo is really no longer an option…is it?


P.S. Good blog post on this topic from Feb. 2008 here

P.P.S. George Monbiot in a 4-minute YouTube on air travel & “love miles” here

Public Transportation: 5 Reasons Why I Love It**

** & one thing about it I don't

I love public transportation because:

  1. It is soooooooo much better for the planet than all those damn cars.(1) Yes, I am myself a car owner – I have a small, fuel-efficient vehicle that I leave at home or in a GO parking lot whenever I can.
  2. Travelling on buses or trains is so much less stressful than driving on our increasingly congested & dangerous highways.
  3. In cities, having a car to look after is about as much fun as having a gigantic albatross around one’s neck.
  4. When I ride the GO bus or train (I live in Ontario, Canada & often travel to Toronto, our biggest city), I can read & write & think & breathe
  5. I feel so much better about myself when I use public transportation. I just do

The major thing I dislike about public transportation is its cost. It invariably costs me more (& remember, I live on a very low income) to take buses or trains than to drive my car. This really doesn’t make any sense at all, does it??

If only our governments would subsidize public transportation the way they do all those polluting industries owned by their corporate buddies. (I recall the phrase “corporate welfare bums” & think it’s time for it to be resurrected!)

Fiddlesticks, I say!! (I am being very, very polite…)


P.S. I honestly think there are a lot of people who don’t take public transportation because they think they are too darn good for it. Of course no one will admit to that – but I honestly think it’s true. Shame on our human snobbery & hypocrisy!

P.P.S. Flying isn’t any too good for the planet either. Read a 2006 George Monbiot column entitled ‘We are all killers’ here

(1) I used to have a Greenpeace bumper sticker that said ““WARNING: This vehicle emits Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulphur Dioxide, VOCs, Benzene, Aldehydes and Methane. Causes respiratory disease, cancer, smog and Global Warming! ESPECIALLY HARMFUL TO CHILDREN.”