I’ve been away from ondesire.com for a couple of months, reconstructing my land based life and recovering from an NYC exit. Let’s return now to the Around Lake Michigan archives for further extraction and posting. I’m starting with a PSA exploring the ills of jet travel. ALM is a search for what’s useful, the artifacts of future sustainable civilizations. Rather than look at what is wrong and complain, ALM explores what might be right, what seems to work. Explaining why something works may require contrasting it with what doesn’t.
There’s a local effort underway to fund extensive jet travel, ostensibly for good works on the other side of the earth. Certainly the organizers mean well, but on the balance they’ll probably do way more harm than good. Having recently sailed hundreds of miles in an open catamaran, I’m in a unique position to comment, to offer some perspective on travel choices. Here’s a first draft of my narration.
Two years ago I was invited to sail around the islands of Hawaii and make a movie about sustainability. Getting to Hawaii usually means flying on a jet plane – and that’s a huge carbon footprint. Talking about the low impact lifestyle while having a big impact myself – that didn’t make sense. So I decided instead to stay home and make my movie right here, in Michigan. In fact, I decided to give up jet flight in general. This summer I visited my brother for a trip down the San Juan river in Utah, and it was Amtrak and cars the whole way.
Flying on jets is just about the biggest environmental impact we can have as Americans. Trying to do good deeds by flying to far away places is usually a contradiction. Do the ends justify the means?
I love to travel – adventure is my middle name. There’s so much to learn from other people and cultures. Maybe we can even help the folks we visit.
We don’t need to fly in jets to have adventures or be of service. Wondrous discoveries await within 200, 20 or 2 miles of our front door. There are plenty of people who need love and support in our own home towns.
If we want to help people in China or Africa, we can send checks to reputable organizations already there. If we want to make new friends on the other side of the earth, we can reach out through social networks, telephones and… wait for it… posted letters.
If we traveled around the world without taking a single jet, we would have a richer and more immediate experience, make more friends, have many more adventures and probably be a lot smarter after.
We are all responsible for each other, for our common survival. The choices we make determine what will happen to us and to our extended global family. Jet travel is not a responsible choice, it messes up the global life support system we all depend on.
live fully, go slow, power down