Categories: Air PollutionNews Piece

Greta Thunberg Gave Up Travelling by Flights to Fight Climate Change. Would You Too?

As much as the title sounds unreasonable, however, it is an actual truth. There are various means to fight climate change. One of the reasons could possibly be to totally abandon the idea of traveling by flights. As per recent reports, Air Travel is a huge contributor to climate change.

Did you know?

The engines of an airplane work by burning fossil fuel (combustion). This produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. Other major emissions include lead, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen oxide (NO2) which together are called NOx, sulfur oxides (SO2), and soot.  

Recently VOX published an article that shared a story with a powerful message by a young woman, named Maja Rosén (founder of Swedish No-flight Campaign).

Read below:

It was 2007, during a trip to visit her sister in Norway’s pristine Lofoten Islands, when Maja Rosén had an unsettling thought.

As she took in the breathtaking archipelago north of the Arctic Circle that is dotted with mountains, carved with fjords, and circled by sea eagles, she remembered she was looking at one of the fastest-warming regions of the planet.

And she realized that how she got there was part of the problem.

She’d carpooled with friends to Oslo from her home in Gothenburg, Sweden. The final leg was a short boat ride to the islands. And in between was a 500-mile flight from Oslo to Bodø.

For the distance, short flights produce a larger amount of greenhouse gas emissions per passenger compared to longer routes. That fact wasn’t something that struck her on her previous jaunts like her flights to the United Kingdom to visit friends. 

But upon basking in the fragile and sublime wonders of Lofoten, Rosén began to consider how her own actions might be threatening the region. The contradiction between her admiration for the scenery and her pollution from getting there, she decided, was too much to bear.

“It felt so wrong that my flight there was contributing to destroying that place,” Rosén, now 38, said. Soon after, she drastically curbed her flying, but in 2008, she concluded it wasn’t enough. “That’s when I decided not to fly again, and I have not regretted that decision,” she said.

Greta Thunberg too gave up traveling by flights to fight climate change.

16-year-old, Swedish, environmental activist, Greta Thunberg is is making promising efforts to fight climate change in her own little ways.

Young Ms. Thunberg gained recognition – when she went on a school strike to protest against the government’s inaction on climate change. Which instantly sparked a series of the worldwide demonstration by many young people.

Right after becoming a global celebrity, she set an example by traveling to events around Europe mainly by train. Recently, to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, she accepted to ride on a sailboat, disowning traveling by flights altogether.

A lot of Countries are coming up with ways to fight climate change:

Not just Sweden, but other countries such as Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, are curbing their air travel if not giving it up outright.

However, the growing global alarm about the environmental impacts of aviation comes as air travel continues to rise and airlines report record demand for flights. Our global economy is tightly interwoven with aviation as it carries goods and facilitates commerce. Leisure flights are also increasing, and growing demand for services like two-day and overnight shipping has led some companies like Amazon to invest more in cargo aircraft. 

How does Air Travel contribute to climate change?

The environmental impact of aviation occurs because aircraft engines emit heat, noise, particulates, and gases which contribute to climate change and global dimming. Airplanes emit particles and gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, lead, and black carbon which interact among themselves and with the atmosphere.

Globally, about 8.3 million people fly daily (three billion occupied seats per year). In attempting to aggregate and quantify the total climate impact of aircraft emissions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation’s total climate impact is some two to four times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone (excluding the potential impact of cirrus cloud enhancement). 

So, should you travel by flight, dear?

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts,” wrote Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad. “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”


Deepshikha Deb

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Deepshikha Deb
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