You may not yet have heard: "Air travel is becoming as controversial as wearing a fur coat or smoking while pregnant."
This is once again an avenue of environmental extremism. Since those "opposed" to air travel presumably are not suggesting a return to the middle ages, the message is mixed at best. Instead of attacking mass-travel airlines, which have the best emissions-per-mile record, the criticism should be leveled against individualized or business jets, which are clearly more of a menace. And their numbers are growing.
In the Guardian, Tom Robbins reports:
Thousands of activists are expected to descend on Heathrow for the Camp for Climate Action from 14 to 21 August. There will be workshops on issues from carbon offsetting and biofuels to campaign strategy and skills for direct action, and the week will climax with a day when demonstrators will try to disrupt the airport as much as possible.
I don't count myself in this category, but I guess guilt can trump most anything:
Even those who fly once or twice a year on holiday can't help but feel a growing sense of guilt, while those opting for trips by car, train or ferry have a self-righteous spring in their steps.
Now, however, the backlash is beginning. The tourism and aviation industries are mobilising, setting up lobbying groups, and pointing out some awkward facts. Did you know, for example, that some ferries emit far more carbon dioxide than some planes? That driving can release twice as much carbon as flying? .... And at last month's Paris Airshow, Airbus bosses unveiled their own, very different, solution to climate change - promising to 'save the planet, one A380 at a time'. That's A380, as in the vast double-decker airliner about to enter service. So who do you believe?
Well, so cars with a full passenger load are better than planes, and trains are the best of the three. Trains are a good option for much of Europe, and we certainly need to improve our trains significantly here in the US, but many countries are simply too large to not use air travel.
But in the real world, with the US and the developing world demanding thousands of new planes, surely we have to take a more sophisticated approach: to choose airlines with greener, newer fleets, and thus encourage plane makers to prioritise environmental performance; to travel to destinations that help local communities rather than destroy them; to take the train where possible...