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The war on tourism
March 3, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

For the sake of the world's poor, we must keep the wealthy at home, writes George Monbiot, calling the aviation industry "the greatest future cause of global warming," and asserting that growing passenger numbers is "an utter, unparalleled disaster". The airline industry responds: Stop this war on tourism. "Would the unfolding Darfur tragedy be tolerated if the country had a thriving tourism industry? How much of the relief money for victims of the tsunami was raised because so many of us had visited the affected areas on holiday?"
posted by soiled cowboy (66 comments total)

 
Guh? Most air travel is for business, not pleasure.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:11 AM on March 3, 2006


"Who am I to spoil their fun?"

I usually have a lot of time for George Non-Bio but this makes me want to inflict my holiday snaps on him.
posted by Shave at 7:11 AM on March 3, 2006


Oddly, perhaps, I'm reminded of The Winnowing (.rtf) by Isaac Asimov.
posted by Gator at 7:13 AM on March 3, 2006


Can't we just take more cruises and train trips?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:17 AM on March 3, 2006


What's with the recent backlash against air travel in the UK? A couple months ago Philip Pullman said he was never flying again out of concern for the environment. How long has this been going on?
posted by zsazsa at 7:17 AM on March 3, 2006


How exactly would throwing the entirety of both the business and leisure economies out of whack help the poor?
posted by mischief at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2006


I have also heard that they are thinking of cancelling the World Cup because of concerns about spreading the Bird Flu Virus.
posted by tellurian at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2006


Heh, good story Gator. The fact that it's set this year almost exactly makes it a little creepy, though :P
posted by delmoi at 7:24 AM on March 3, 2006


Stop this war on tourism.

If we give up the war on tourism, then the tourists will have already won.
posted by GuyZero at 7:28 AM on March 3, 2006


Guh? Most air travel is for business, not pleasure.

I'll wager that, based on my experience in the financial services industry, 90% of all business travel is unnecessary, particularly when you consider the advances in communication tools (WebEx, Live Communication Server, etc.). I grant you, trade shows and conferences can be useful things for business people and academics alike, but most face to face client meetings are not as necessary. At least a lot of the ones I have been to.

However because execs and salesbots like to get away from the wife and kids, business travel is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
posted by psmealey at 7:29 AM on March 3, 2006


I think (and get the feeling soiled_cowboy might agree) that this illustrates nothing so well as the general principle that you can construct a plausible-sounding argument for just about anything.

For example: "Most of the starving people in [country x] will never be saved; wouldn't it be more sensible just to eat them?"
posted by lodurr at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2006


psmealey:

While I think you've got a point about people wanting to get away for a while, in my experience I've found that regardless the technology, most people still like to deal with human flesh and to hammer out deals in person.

Webex, Live Communication, telephones, etc. have all significantly enhanced business communications, but they are still no replacement for having a real person sitting at the table.
posted by tgrundke at 7:36 AM on March 3, 2006


All of this leisure/business travel is probably insignificant comapred to the amount of unnecessary transportation of goods from far-away places. That's where you've got to look if you're trying to cut down on fuel use.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:38 AM on March 3, 2006


Yeh, tgrundke, I know the drill -- I've worked with enough sales droids to understand that they want to get face to face.

But think back a few decades -- or, for that matter, a hundred or hundred-fifty years -- to when people would complete complex business deals without ever communicating in anything close to real time.

Then ask yourself, why was that possible then, but discredited now? I think that's kind of an interesting question.
posted by lodurr at 7:45 AM on March 3, 2006


It seems that he's going for the forms of pollution that stand out to him rather than the ones that are the most serious. Most global warming is not caused by airplanes, or even by yuppies with gigantic SUVs. It's caused by heavy industry, and by the movement of consumer goods by trucks over long distances rather than either producing locally or using trains. If this guy wants to make a difference, he should try pressing for pollution controls, increased conservation efforts, and incresed rail funding. It's not as catchy as telling rich people not to fly, but it would probably do a lot more good.
posted by unreason at 7:46 AM on March 3, 2006


lodurr: cite some examples.
posted by mischief at 7:48 AM on March 3, 2006


While I think you've got a point about people wanting to get away for a while, in my experience I've found that regardless the technology, most people still like to deal with human flesh and to hammer out deals in person.

Yeah, but how many people like living in filth and pollution so that deals can get "hammered out?" I'm willing to say none.
posted by jon_kill at 7:49 AM on March 3, 2006


Like they have any say in the matter.
posted by mischief at 7:52 AM on March 3, 2006


The pollution caused by mass air travel is real. Here's another perspective on the issue for astronomers.
posted by salmacis at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2006


I think unreason makes good points. Monbiot's approach reminds me a bit of animal-rights protestors hurling paint at little old ladies in furs, rather than Hells Angels clad head to toe in leather.
posted by scratch at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2006


He seems to have shifted his sights away from aviation fuel taxation to tourism. Not a good move. Surely lobbying to halt the aviation fuel tax dispensation is the first step to that 'cleaner, brighter future' - a level playing field, not an uphill struggle.
posted by Shave at 8:00 AM on March 3, 2006


Oddly, perhaps, I'm reminded of The Winnowing (.rtf) by Isaac Asimov.

Gator: I haven't read that (at least, I don't think), and I'd like to, but that RTF seems to have weird formatting elements that aren't understood by any programs I have. (Things like '/par' and '/line' etc.) Is there a reader program that you (or anyone reading this) can suggest? My first guess is that it's some form of TeX, but I'm not sure what I can use to read that on Windows...
posted by blacklite at 8:00 AM on March 3, 2006


blacklite, if you don't have Microsoft Word, you should at least have Wordpad on a Windows machine (I would think). The formatting seems to work in Wordpad.
posted by Gator at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2006


Good for Philip Pullman! He's an idiot in most respects, but at least he has the common sense to look up in the sky, see all the contrails, and say: "Hey, wait a minute..."
All in all, I'm really surprised that this not-flying meme hasn't caught on like wildfire. It addresses some element of nearly every facet of the anti-globalization, environmentalist, anti-elitist, redistributionist agenda. And yet, the Rob Reiners and Al Gores of the world haven't jumped on the bandwagon and denounced promiscuous air travel. Now why do you think that is? (I myself have never seen a train I didn't wish I was on. Down with planes! Crush them!)
posted by Faze at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2006


Seriously, it seems like every other week there is an annoying George Monbiot post. He's supremely arrogant, needlessly polarizing and never says anything that hasn't been said before, said better and most importantly said by someone who's not an ideological clown. For one thing, I'd bet that Monbiot's own travel schedule isn't exactly spartan.
posted by Heminator at 8:12 AM on March 3, 2006


A couple of years ago there was a debate raging about this on my local council's mesage board and I was struck by the attitude of a lot of the posters who felt that not just air travel, but the relatively recent development of cheap/budget air travel was now an inalienable right.

Surely the growth of the budget end of air travel has meant an increase in tourist flights? If people want a weekend away they don't have to fly to another country, but they're more likely to if it's cheap.

I wouldn't have a problem with subsidies being ended, and I have seen some suggestions for a sort personal air travel quotas, with people able to trade in surplus miles they're not going to use (can't remember where I saw this, I think it was in an interview with an environmentalist a couple of years ago).
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 8:16 AM on March 3, 2006


I agree with everything this Mr. Moonbat, er, Monbiat says. In fact, why stop there? Let's do away with all greenhouse-gas emitting devices, including trains, trucks, cars, and motorcycles. We can live that local, agrarian lifestyle that was so fashionable hundreds of years ago. We may all become poor, but at least we'll be poor together.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:17 AM on March 3, 2006


You can have my airline ticket when you pry it from my cold, dead, under thirty feet of sea water fingers.
posted by fungible at 8:18 AM on March 3, 2006


The earth is already turning. Why don't they just send people up in balloons, and wait a few hours until their destination rotates under them?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:21 AM on March 3, 2006


Monbiot wrote an article a while ago that tries to square the related circle of "too much transportation = increased climate change" and "global fair trade benefiting poor countries requires increased transportation". I don't think he reasoning stands up to much analysis and others have got quite cross about it.
posted by patricio at 8:28 AM on March 3, 2006


actually, weapons grade pandemonium, that idea is being explored - though via airplanes... that go up into the stratosphere, hang out, then come back down when the destination has rotated under the craft. i saw something about it on the news the other week...
posted by lapolla at 8:30 AM on March 3, 2006


I've said it here before, but it's germaine to this conversation. Remember on 9-11, when all the aircraft were out of the sky? Wasn't that heaven? So wonderfully peaceful. I honestly think the air smelled sweeter the next morning. The earth was smiling. If the hijackers showed us anything, it was the death incipient in these hideous machines, the fireball lurking under their sleek wings, the blind insanity behind their operation.
posted by Faze at 8:32 AM on March 3, 2006


No doubt, salmacis, mass travel generates pollution. Also, on AskMeFi, we previously discussed the fuel efficiency of airplanes -- I compared them to other forms of transport on the basis of passenger miles per gallon of fuel.

But unreason is right in citing that heavy industry and the transportation of consumer goods account for the bulk of pollutants. Ships are extremely bad, and shipping traffic to and from the USA is projected to double by 2020. There are claims that ships in large ports generate the equivilent of one million cars.

Also, there was a Malcolm Gladwell article that discussed powerlaw distribution -- In Denver, five per cent of the vehicles on the road produce fifty-five per cent of the automobile pollution. -- the point is that if we concentrate on curbing the behavior of the most extreme offenders, it will result in the biggest net change.
posted by fourstar at 8:34 AM on March 3, 2006


rxrfrx: All of this leisure/business travel is probably insignificant compared to the amount of unnecessary transportation of goods from far-away places. That's where you've got to look if you're trying to cut down on fuel use.

Business travel and transported goods come to the same thing. You first have to take the business trip to set up the contacts, then you make an order. Etc. etc.

Travel is too inexpensive, by a lot. I don't care which kind of travel you are talking about (except bike travel, I guess). I bet it contributes to most of the environmental damage industrialization does. It encourages suburban living, it creates more roads, bigger airports, more terrorism, more wars against terrorism, more wars of colonial aggression.

Just stay home!
posted by Chuckles at 8:35 AM on March 3, 2006


Seriously, it seems like every other week there is an annoying George Monbiot post. He's supremely arrogant, needlessly polarizing and never says anything that hasn't been said before, said better and most importantly said by someone who's not an ideological clown. For one thing, I'd bet that Monbiot's own travel schedule isn't exactly spartan.

Maybe not, but he's a hottie.
posted by scratch at 8:44 AM on March 3, 2006


"Just stay home"

... and while you stay home, don't drive to work or the store or anywhere else.
posted by mischief at 8:47 AM on March 3, 2006


If we end up on the extreme end of a peak-oil theorist's nightmare, airline travel will become so prohibitively expensive that airports will end up as decaying museums to the twentieth century anyway. Or the space will be converted into workhouses for former oil company execs.
posted by palinode at 8:48 AM on March 3, 2006


Anyone remember those ecological footprint calculators? I remember that the #1 thing you could do to increase your footprint was to take a trans-pacific or trans-atlantic flight at some point over the course of the year. Those jets burn a lot of fuel.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:49 AM on March 3, 2006


lodurr -

That's because back in the day, most business was conducted locally simply because the transportation and communications barriers were so much higher. It was not until the advent of relatively inexpensive air travel, naval transport and modern logistics that the costs came down to the point where we have business conducted as it is.

My ex-girlfriend's father was the lead counsel for PepsiCo up until a few years ago. He closed all of their international deals. PepsiCo (and he) always wanted to do the deals via teleconferences or telephone, but most of the international partners greatly preferred the business conducted in person. So, he spent 3 out of 4 weeks per month on airplanes all over the world.
posted by tgrundke at 8:50 AM on March 3, 2006


Here's the ecological footprint quiz, and here is the detailed calculation spreadsheet (xls file).
posted by Chuckles at 9:00 AM on March 3, 2006


More and more of the UK media has been picking up on this for a while but it is (luckily in my opinion) electoral poison as well as an intellectual nonsense. How many coal power plants go on line every week, mainly in emerging economies? Monbiot, who I really am not sure is of this world (he once argued the solution to the stricken Rover plant in Longbridge was some kind of sit-in workers co-operative.), has not been too ready to confront this.

The majority of emissions growth will probably come from emerging economy consumers scrambling up to a Western bourgeoisie standard of living. We should be making it easy for these people to drive hybrids etc (as should everyone) and not rely on 19th Century power generation kit before we start trying to make 60 hour week, bottom of the overdraft every month modern workers feel too bad about going on holiday.

I saw a feature along these lines on one of the Sundays written by a rather wealthy fellow who decided his family are not going to fly, instead having lovely multiweek jaunts on the Orient Express and hemp powered boats. I would love to be able to take a holiday like that, as would many, but would come back unemployed. Get real.

‘Flying kills’ is a truly remarkable quote from an amazing man. Maybe the fees from his copy enable him to travel over to the chateau by solar powered plane, but most of us are not so fortunate. Being born into a box of silver spoons help with some of these armchair revolutionary views, methinks.
posted by The Salaryman at 9:14 AM on March 3, 2006


The majority of emissions growth

I have no control over the majority of emissions growth. I do, however, have control over the emissions that result from my own choices.

Take the footprint quiz!
posted by Chuckles at 9:17 AM on March 3, 2006


People who have a lot a money to spend will find a way to get where they want to go. Its everyone else who'll have a problem.

If the number of flights are restricted then price of flying will be bid up - and the rich will simply pay the higher fares. The working class and the poor will be crowed out.

Even if all air travel were eliminated, the wealthy will simply travel by ship - leaving the rest behind.

Also, since the vast majority of (legal) immigrants to the UK arrive via cheap flights, restricting airflights would also crowd them out, as well.

So Monbiot's proposal to save the environment and 'punish' the rich would, defacto, enact part of the agenda of the very far-right - reducing or ending all that awfull 'brown' immigration and immobilizing the working class. Probably not his intention, but the inevitable real world result.
posted by Jos Bleau at 9:36 AM on March 3, 2006


I'll try, chuckles. I think I'll come out well. I drive about four times a year, take one holiday, recycle aggressively, have appliances with the lowest possible consumption (at least according to those stickers), etc. We all need to make an effort where we can. However, all change involves priorities and making war on air travel is a political mistake for the green movement and avoids the big elephants in the room. Much better to make a case for things on a pragmatic basis like massively reduced business travel enabled by technology and incentivised by public policy. There is business case for this anyway on the basis of cost alone –this is the sort of thing people should be pressing for, not Puritan fantasies.

Me giving up one of my family’s few chances to experience other places, people in cultures in favour of a freezing muddy beach will make no difference at all to the state of the world in 2050. To think otherwise is delusional egoism. And us poor little late capitalist drones need a few smiles in our lives.
posted by The Salaryman at 9:42 AM on March 3, 2006


Salaryman - those would be silver soup spoons.
posted by Shave at 9:52 AM on March 3, 2006


Jos Bleau : 'The working class and the poor will be crowded out.'

Did you read the part of the article that states:

Despite the claims made for the democratising effects of cheap travel, 75% of those who use budget airlines are in social classes A, B and C...people in classes D and E hardly fly; they can't afford the holidays, so are responsible for just 6% of flights. Most of the growth, the government envisages, will take place among the wealthiest 10%.

These would be figures for the UK, do you have figures that contradict his claims?
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 9:55 AM on March 3, 2006


A number of environmental activists in the states and canada are avoiding flying/jet fuel, as part of an action to protest the stalling of Kyoto, and the lack of CO2 controls. It's part of a campaign to track and lower their own CO2 emissions, to prove it can be done, to shove it in the faces of government.

the majority of emissions growth will probably come from emerging economy consumers scrambling up to a Western bourgeoisie standard of living.

Salaryman, you're missing the point.
1) As americans / canadians / brits / G7 citizens who can read Monbiot, we need to hold our own governments and societies liable to action towards energy efficiency and conservation. "splinter in the eye, plank in your own" and all that.

2) Are you a citizen of a country of the 'developing world'? why do you think you can tell those people what to do? Why do you think you should be allowed a modern society and not them?

3)We've got to change our bourgeoise lifeway, not by changing our 'standard of living' but by changing our ecological impact. If other people are supposedly emulating (or are 'going to emulate') our bad behavior, shouldn't we change that behavior? Didn't your Pa ever tell you to 'set a good example'?

I dislike these arguments against limiting CO2 emissions, based on what 'developing nations' are going to do. It's like arguing for torture based on the fact that your enemy tortures. Who cares? There's still a problem! And in this case, the other people haven't even STARTED to do what you are blaming them for! What are YOU going to do? Put up or shut up.

As for Monbiot, he knows what he's doing. He's a newspaper columnist. He's got your panties in a bind.

Thanks for the links, fourstar!
posted by eustatic at 9:55 AM on March 3, 2006


Indeed, Sir. Thanks for the link. Being an heir to all that can make one a little, uh, insulated from reality. Long tradition of posh radicalism, some good, some Martian.
posted by The Salaryman at 9:55 AM on March 3, 2006


Eustatic, I am not telling them anything. The lets tighten belts on on side thing doesn't work well for me though. Its like saying being late to the party means you can piss on the carpet, but like I said I am not ordering other people about - they should be incentivised by the international system, as we should be by our government. Coercion is not the way.

We can be paddling about on meltwater but feel good we didn't do it? Are you OK with that? Some wider thinking is required.

As for newspaper columnists, I could put up a few links to some who I think no-one here would defend. Having a soapbox proves nothing, especially when the guy on it is well connected.
posted by The Salaryman at 10:02 AM on March 3, 2006


…and thinking that you can change other people by being just a 'good example' rather than incentivising them over time is imperialist solipsism...
posted by The Salaryman at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2006


This is why I'm bussing it to South America (well, not really, but it's a good idealistic justification).
posted by iamck at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2006


Drill:
Monbiot himself doesn't provide a source for the claims you cite, so I don't feel obliged to offer any more proof than that for mine, and I don't know what 'social classes A, B, C etc." are, either.

But I do know that my last flight from Chicago to NYC on United cost the first class passengers $1000 each, if they paid full fare. At that price I wouldn't have been on it - I sat with the cattle for $195.

Do you really think that a 500% increase in airfares would result in, say only a 25% reduction in air travel?

And in any event, whatever % of flyers are middle or lower class, Monbiot seems perfectly happy that none of them fly at all. Is it OK to ground the poor and the immigrants if there's not a lof of them?
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2006


I'll quote you again.

the majority of emissions growth will probably come from emerging economy consumers scrambling up to a Western bourgeoisie standard of living.

I'm merely drawing out the logic of your comment.


As for the 'newspaper columnist' bit, This is what i mean:

I think he's got a flashy idea that hits home. It immediately causes people to think about what the consequences of changing their own lives would be. (also sells papers)

It gets people talking about the problem, someone figures out that there's another way around the problem--or maybe not. It's "annoying," but people with (some) power are thinking about the problem.

I guarantee we wouldn't be talking about this if Monbiot had written about the pollution of the commercial shipping industry. I would never have had access to that information, fourstar would not have brought it up. The 'wider thinking' you mention would not go.

It's similar to the 'No Logo' strategy--beginning the discussion of international trade, the WTO, human rights, all that boring shit, by talking about name brands.
posted by eustatic at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2006


Monbiot himself doesn't provide a source for the claims you cite, so I don't feel obliged to offer any more proof than that for mine, and I don't know what 'social classes A, B, C etc." are, either.

Yes he did, just not in the version published in the newspaper, all sources are referenced on the version of the article posted on his website. I'll take those more seriously than your personal anecdote. (Here's the definition for the NRS Social Grade BTW).

Is it OK to ground the poor and the immigrants if there's not a lot of them?

Reflecting the true cost of flying in the price of tickets would affect everyone but, as Monbiot makes clear, it would affect the poor far, far less as not very many of them fly anyway. I don't see a problem with that at all. It's not depriving them of basic human requirements. Changes in policies affect people.

The main thrust of the article seems to be that the UK government should not blindly approve endless airport expansion, and it could affect the growth in flights by restricting airport capacity. He then goes on to say why this would be a good thing. The fact that the final paragraph starts:

Flying kills. We all know it, and we all do it.

I'm reading we to includes himself would seem to lessen the accusations of hypocrisy leveled against him. The end of the piece against refers on the Government's responsibility to look at the bigger picture, and limit the number of runways, which would reduce air travel due to a lack of capacity. I don't think that objective unfeasible, as he points out, many people who live near airports are already unhappy with expansion for a range of reasons .
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 11:44 AM on March 3, 2006


Ah, drill, so you do agree with Monbiot then - in order to keep the rich from destroying the earth we must end the mobility of the working class and, defacto, eliminate the ability of non-whites to emigrate.

But that's OK, because there's not a lot of 'em in air now.

So, quite literally, keeping down the working class and keeping out the brown folks is worth it - because it saves the world from the rich?

How on earth does this make sense?

I just thank goodness the rich haven't been even worse than they have been - just imagine how hard you'd have to be on those poor and/or brown blighters then! Its all for their own good, you know ...
posted by Jos Bleau at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2006


Also yes, as people have mentioned this would damage the poor much more then the wealthy.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2006


Save the world, don't leave the house.
posted by weston at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2006


I agree with Monbiot that the growth of air travel should not be allowed to continue unchecked, and that people should pay a price for air travel that reflects the true cost of it more accurately, and that the industry should not be so heavily subsidised.

This will mean that fewer people can afford air travel (although if we introduced some sort of carbon market for air travel people would have the option of hoarding, selling or buying extra air travel allocation, which would make things more fair in terms of access). This is how society works under capitalism - not everyone can afford everything, some goods are more expensive than others. The rich would have to spend a greater percentage of their income on air travel, which their may or may not choose to do.

I'm not sure how you're professing to know my (or indeed George Monbiot's) views on immigration from this argument, and I find your effort to invoke the race card clumsy and unjustified. I also think you're ignoring Monbiot's points about the developing world suffering, he's talking about people who will probably never be able to afford air travel, so even someone from the working class developed world who travels by air occasionally is wealthy in comparison.

Is there a particular reason for your (seeming) obsession with flight based immigration? For a start if someone was moving countries, they'd have time to plan for for the longer amount of time land or sea based travel would take, if it came to that, or surely this would be a once in a lifetime cost, so if it was more expensive people would still be prepared to pay. People did manage to emigrate before the advent of mass air travel.

Cheap air travel is not a human right, or a human necessity, it's a recent development. I don't see a problem with restricting it at all.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 12:32 PM on March 3, 2006


liberals! learn to canoe like proper world travellers!
posted by eustatic at 12:43 PM on March 3, 2006


His concentration on rich-world air travel seems misplaced when, at the same time, he's promoting vastly increased transportation of goods from poor countries to rich countries. He's explicitly dismissed the "localism" approach of many green movements as being harmful to developing nations:

"Few people in the rich world now admit that they wish drastically to reduce the value of exports from the poor nations, but several prominent campaigners are promoting policies which lead to this outcome. When, in June, I suggested that “localisation” (the proposal that everything which can be produced locally should be produced locally) would damage the interests of poorer nations, Dr Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, the press officer of the Green Party, sent me a furious letter of complaint. Localisation, he insisted, would help the poor by permitting them to be self-reliant and by reducing trade’s contribution to climate change. “We are advocating a world of relatively balanced, relatively self-reliant economies. That ultimately means the poorer country manufacturing its own frying pans and computers and pencils”. It sounds sensible and obvious, until you take a moment to examine the implications.

If every country is to manufacture its own frying pans and computers and pencils, then every country would require bauxite, iron ore, copper, silicon, feedstock, graphite, softwood and all the other raw materials required for their manufacture. If the country does not possess them, it must import them. Because raw materials are heavier, importing raw materials rather than finished products means that more fossil fuel must be used in transport. “Self-reliance” of this kind thus increases, rather than reduces, trade’s contribution to climate change.
"
posted by patricio at 12:52 PM on March 3, 2006


Drill: "I'm not sure how you're professing to know my (or indeed George Monbiot's) views on immigration from this argument". I am not saying that I do. I am only saying I can predict the effect of the policies you advocate. And you seem to agree with me on the end results.

You will give the farthest right what they want, wrapped in a fig leaf of green sensativity.

I've got to hand it to you - you've already got the rationalization very well in thought out. When you curtail the market for air travel it will be capitalism's fault when the poor and the brown are screwed. There's practically nothing you can't justify with that logic.

Guns don't kill people. And people don't kill people. Its the capitalist system that makes you go to work everyday that put on the street corner where you get in the way of the bullets I shoot at rich guys, that's what kills people.

Brilliant.
posted by Jos Bleau at 1:07 PM on March 3, 2006


(I myself have never seen a train I didn't wish I was on. Down with planes! Crush them!)

I felt that way, too, but then took a train trip from LA to Chicago and back. It was cold, it was uncomfortable, and for some reason took LONGER than the drive would have taken.

When trains get back to average speeds above 50mph, we'll talk; in the meantime, I'm very sad to say, I can't justify a train trip when I can drive faster by driving ten hours a day.
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on March 3, 2006


Jos Bleau : 'And you seem to agree with me on the end results.'

Not at all, I agree that the result would be reduced air travel overall, with greater reduction coming from the more wealthy portion of society, who already travel more by air.

Personally I'd favour some sort of air travel allocation trading, but I don't see why the what you describe as the poor and brown would be screwed, the very small minority who use air travel would be affected, but there are other travel options, (for example, heard of the Windrush? Hint: It wasn't an aeroplane).

As Monbiot points out the very poor of the world may well benefit, he gives the (sourced) example of Bangladesh. So far you've given no sources, just your own opinions, with some odd extrapolations. Also,

I am only saying I can predict the effect of the policies you advocate.

Right, that's all you're saying, you're able to perfectly predict what will happen? Well you must be some kind of precog then, because you don't seem to basing your predictions on anything except this uncanny ability of yours. There's no chance it could be unjustified self belief in your own opinions could it?

Once again, from the article, Social Classes D & E (defined as Working Class and underclass - almost 25% of the UK population) are responsible for just 6% of the flights. Therefore there would be far less impact on that section of the population as a result of reduced flight capacity because they already fly less. If they already fly far less, how are they screwed if capacity decreases?

BTW if you could find some sources apart from your opinions/prejudices it might help give your argument some weight.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:04 PM on March 3, 2006


Since Monbiot doesn't provide hyperlinks or page numbers to his references, they are very hard to check. But try to think about what you're saying a little at least.

"If they already fly far less, how are they screwed if capacity decreases?"

Uh, becasue they can't fly at all anymore ?

Ealier you agreed with this. Remember when you said "This will mean that fewer people can afford air travel"? That's what that means - poorer people can't fly any more.

And for this flight reduction to really be useful, Monbiot hints that a 30% reduction won't be ebough. That's going to be more than a lot just the poorest 6% not flying anymore right?

Drill, I liked you better when you stood up for what you believed in - rather than justify immobilizing the poorest people you at least had the decency to say it wasn't what you wanted - it was all capitalism's fault.

This wishy washy 'who cares if the least advantaged can't travel' business - it doesn't become you
posted by Jos Bleau at 3:59 PM on March 3, 2006


The Salaryman: take one holiday

One of the great things about looking quantitatively is that moderation is factored in - in the quiz, one hour of flying is about 0.05 global hectares. So, 10 hours of flying is a small percentage of a typical footprint, but 100 hours is between 1/3 and 1/2 of an otherwise typical footprint.

recycle aggressively, have appliances with the lowest possible consumption

Sadly, this hardly factors - I thought it would help me out too... Turns out, the vast majority of almost any footprint is made up of food and transportation. Those are the elephants in the room. I'm not about to give up meat and dairy, consequently food is more than 3/4's of my footprint.

Well, I'm not sure... Urban sprawl doesn't contribute very much to this calculation (directly I mean, of course transportation goes hand in hand with sprawl), but it is a massive environmental problem.

To think otherwise is delusional egoism.

I can't agree. Personal responsibility comes first.



patricio, that quote is a fantastic argument for making transportation more expensive, and letting economics take care of the rest.
posted by Chuckles at 4:16 PM on March 3, 2006


Jos, I'm not following your argument at all. Monbiot provides hyperlinks where available, and a simple text search would find the sections he's talking about. Where does your figure of the poorest 6% come from? He's saying that the poorest 25% only account for 6% of flights.

You still don't seem to be getting it, the poorest can't afford flights anyway, they're already 'immobolised' as you describe it. More details from one of Monbiot's sources:

The aviation industry’s own figures show that the poorest 10 per cent
of people rarely fly. Nor are they likely to fly over the next 30 years,
because of the overall cost of trips. Even on budget airlines 75 per cent
of trips are by people in social classes A, B and C. Most of the growth
predicted for 2030 by the DfT will be the wealthiest 10 per cent flying
overseas at weekends. (Freedom to Fly MORI Poll 1/2002 / DfT)


All you're offering in response to this is your (seemingly uninformed) opinion that the poor won't be able to fly. As the vast majority of them don't fly already surely this is a moot point. They've not benefited from the increase in flights, there hasn't been a democratising effect with the growth of cheap flights. The Airport Watch factsheet points out a reduction in capacity would affect the major growth area - weekend flights abroad taken up by the wealthier sections of the UK population. Conversely increasing capacity doesn't mean that more poor people would fly, it just means the wealthier section of society would fly more. You haven't shown any evidence that a reduction in capacity would affect the poor more than any other section of society, and Monbiot's sources indicate that the opposite is actually true. As to cost, the airport watch factsheet states that

Introducing fair taxation to pay for the environmental impacts caused
by aviation would probably result in fares staying the same in real terms
– neither rising nor, as the DfT has predicted, falling by as much as
44 per cent by 2030. (Aviation Environment Federation, AEF)


The thrust of Monbiot's argument is primarily is about reducing capacity (and therefore demand) anyway. In the article he doesn't argue for more expensive tickets so why are you obsessed with this point? Can you provide any evidence to support your view?

Are you actually comprehending the article? The 30% figure Monbiot is talking about is the maximum fuel efficiency saving offered by new technology, a theoretical figure predicated on the introduction of 'blended wing planes'. This might help make his point clearer for you:

Even if the outermost promise of a 30% cut [in fuel use not number of flights] could be met, it would offset only a fraction of the extra fuel use caused by rising demand.

So therefore he looks at how the issue of extra demand can be addressed, by reducing capacity, which in turn will affect the major growth areas of the wealthier taking more weekend flights, visiting their second homes etc. I thought the article was fairly easy to follow, but perhaps you should spend some more time reading it if you're having problems.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 5:48 AM on March 4, 2006


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