To Fly or Not to Fly

Current plane ticket prices are more accessible than ever. Where you used to only be able to travel outside of Europe destinations for prizes of at least 5500 gulden (= 2500 euros), one can now plan a trip to London by plane and visit the Big Ben for around 50 euros. These low prizes in combination with the wanderlust of many causes a great explosion of the air traffic, and prospects are that these will continue to grow exponentially. 

So what are the consequences, and should we try to stop these? Low plane ticket prizes might be worrisome as there is a very low threshold to buy these tickets. By charging such low amounts of money people are more likely to purchase plain tickets, and the growing of flight transport has disastrous consequences for our environment. A journey within Europe, for example to Nice, already emits around 240 kilo of carbon dioxide per air traveller according to Milieudefensie. While many are aware of the fact that air travel is destructive for planet earth, the amount of plane tickets sold is growing, with no end in sight. Even many sustainability students, who are supposedly concerned with our environment and bettering the world make up to three (!) journeys with an aircraft per year. It is interesting to evaluate why we collectively seem to neglect the harm that air travel is doing, even though it is right in front of our noses.   

This might have to do with the positive side of accessible air travel. Due to the low ticket prizes, poorer families are still able to show their children other cultures and influences, and they are able to make memories that are most likely incomparable to those made on the camping in Zeeland. Also, youngsters are able to experience great adventures, satisfying the wanderlust for and curiosity to other destinations outside of their known scope, which give a major boost to personal development. And, lets not forget, travelling is plain fun. So whether you are broadening your worldview, or you are tanning on a beach, lying in burning sunrays that your home country could never offer you, in most cases the drive behind air travel is the individual pleasure and satisfaction that it brings. And this pleasure outvoices the harm that is being done to the environment.

While I think we can all agree on that this is logical and self-evident as human beings are (at least partly) wired to prioritize themselves, there is no denying that the air travel is another example of mankind subordinating long-term environmental consequences to short-term personal interests. And this attitude is exactly the attitude we need to adjust if we want to ensure a liveable future, preventing as much environmental harm as we can. 

So next time when you are roaming, or skyscanner, try to ask yourself the question if the pleasure you will gain from your journey is worth the harm it does to our planet. Everyone loves Spanish beaches, and travelling through Asia is a life-changing experience! Just don’t forget to ask yourself if it is worth it. 

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