Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Signing the pledge

Anti-airport expansion pledge: The no-fly movement is here... sort of. You can make an 'airport pledge' online. This anti-airport expansion pledge is being backed by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, People and Planet, Rising Tide and Transport 2000, together with local protest group HACAN ClearSkies.

I've signed up. You can see my pledge (and another 3770) here. This was the comment I added (as you can):
"It's the planet, stupid! This mantra (or something like it) should be on display at all airports, all travel booking websites and travel agents... rather like the health warnings on cigarette packets. Frivolous fliers should have pariah status but first, they have to understand what they're doing. Most people don't get it... yet. Education through campaigns like this is one of our best hopes for getting the message across."

More please: But we need more than this, nationally and internationally. We need to have a responsible citizens group drawn from anywhere in which individuals can 'sign up' and make their pledge not to fly except in emergencies. There is a website of this sort, called the Flight Pledge Union which tells you almost nothing about itself. I envisage something much more interactive than this and it's clearly critically important that a list of real people - like the 'airport pledge' site (above) displays. And besides, I'm not too keen on 'anti' anything; it's too negative. If anyone has ideas, links or knows of organisations which are potentially relevant, please leave a comment.

By the way, 6 out of 10 to the Flight Pledge Union for trying but I think they have much work to do.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Trapped: it's the planet, stupid

Poor sick planet Earth
All is not well with our planet as we are regularly reminded by a string of reports, such as last year's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the almost-daily string of revelations about how the climate is changing faster than we thought.

The fault is ours. Even George Bush has acknowledged that. But though politicians make speeches paying lip service to the environment, business continues as usual. Coal is mined; forests are burned; people still fly off on holidays; the planet warms... Business as usual.

Are we trapped or can we free ourselves from this relentless cycle of energy resource overuse? It looks like were locked in to an economic system, depending as it does on exploitation, even though we know it’s a system that’s bound to come tumbling down (maybe taking most of us with it). Are we trapped into pillaging the planet’s life support systems even though we know it can’t go on? Even now, many countries behave as if they were not all connected to and dependent on the biosphere, a lesson still not understood − particularly by nationalists. The universal excuses for doing nothing are always 'keeping business competitive', jobs and ‘the economy’. But it's the planet, stupid! I always feel like screaming when I hear these deadly mantras. Without a healthy planet, there won't be an economy.

Three Ds: the dilemmas of democracy and denial
So what’s being done? Not much. One stumbling block is, ironically, democracy because it ensures that nothing unpopular can be done. Worse is outright denial that there’s a problem at all. No flyer today can be totally unaware of the damage they subscribe to by their addiction to cheap flights. Their main defence, I suppose, is that since everyone else is doing it, what difference can my self-denial make?

Is there a way forward? My main purpose for creating this blog is to explore what we as individuals can do to make a difference. I hope readers like you will post your own ideas. Let's make a start...

Let's create a voluntary no-flying movement: NFM
One idea whose time has come is for more far-seeing citizens to create a voluntary no-flying movement (NFM). I would be among the first to join. One religious movement, the Christian Methodists, encouraged people to sign a pledge to avoid alcohol for ever in an effort to cut alcoholism rates. Our NFM could involve a pledge too but we should positively encourage sustainable travel and holiday alternatives.

If we can't collectively do something, we’re back to the dilemma we all face: the planet’s cry for help isn’t getting through. It seems we really are trapped.