New York Times reporter Andy Newman led off the Sunday Travel section with a buzzkill, “Travel’s Climate Problem – If to see the world is also to help destroy it, should we just stay home?” (And kill the paper's Travel section while they're at it?)
The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.
Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.
To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption. Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
Newman found a scientfic paper that warned:
Each additional metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent -- your share of the emissions on a cross-country flight one-way from New York to Los Angeles -- shrinks the summer sea ice cover by 3 square meters, or 32 square feet, the authors, Dirk Notz and Julienne Stroeve, found.
In February, my family of three flew from New York to Miami for what seemed like a pretty modest winter vacation. An online carbon calculator tells me that our seats generated the equivalent of 2.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Newman suffered hysterical guilt over his vacation:
When I did that calculation, I pictured myself standing on a pickup-truck-sized sheet of ice as it broke apart and plunged me into frigid waters. A polar bear glared hungrily at me.
I’d like to be able to tell you that knowing what I’ve learned reporting this piece, I have sworn off long-distance travel.
But actually this summer, we’re going to Greece, with a stopover in Paris. Carbon footprint of plane tickets: 10.6 metric tons, enough to melt a small-apartment-sized piece of the Arctic.
But don’t worry, he’s buying penance (or at least "carbon offsets") next time.
Before we go, we will buy enough offsets to capture the annual methane emanations of a dozen cows -- that’s several times what is needed to balance out the carbon effects of our flights. May they help keep a polar bear afloat.
He's apparently serious about the drowning polar bears (underlined in the huge accompanying graphic by Antoine Maillard).
A text box noted that “the amount of carbon dioxide the most efficient cruise ship emits per passenger-mile when compared with a jet.”
So will the New York Times do the right thing, stop being an accessory to climate murder -- and kill off their travel section, along with the paper's very own branded, themed cruises (cruise ships, Newman assures us, are even more polluting than planes)? Not likely. The Times is only there to lecture. Actual sacrifices are for other people.
On a related matter, Mike Seely led the paper’s National section Monday by hyping a hysterical bit of left-wing teen-age activism on climate change from a left-wing hotbed: “Rising Tide of Students Put Climate Change in the Classroom -- After a 3-year delay, public schools in progressive Portland, Ore., are ready to tackle climate justice.”
The final meeting of the year for the Pacific Islander Club at Roosevelt High School was mostly celebratory, with candy leis for the departing seniors and a spread of fried chicken. But the club was talking climate change, and for many students in North Portland, Ore., the subject hit close to home.
Climate change and its effects, including the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, have been a major focus for Akash’s club. Its members were either born in or trace their roots to places like Fiji; the Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Okinawa, Japan; or Samoa -- places, they fear, that may not exist in a few decades because of rising sea levels and other consequences of global warming.
Now we’re taking our actionable scientific principles from teen-agers, and they’re forming the curriculum.
The students’ sense of urgency compelled them to approach Portland’s school board several years ago, in hopes of making climate justice -- the framing of environmental crises as a human rights issue -- a staple of every student’s education....More than three years later, students and teachers said, that has yet to happen. Hundreds of students across the city walked out of their classes in March, saying that Portland Public Schools had done little to carry out the resolution.
Seely only talked to the most extreme voices.
“The very best climate scientists in the world tell us that we have 11 years to fundamentally transform all aspects of society to adequately address our current climate emergency,” Mr. Swinehart, the Lincoln High teacher, said in his letter to the superintendent. “Our students are being denied the climate-justice curriculum they deserve.”
Hmm. Haven’t we had about "11 years" to fundamentally change everything for about the last 30 years, according to the media hysterics?
“With natural disasters, communities of color will be hit the hardest,” said Sriya Chinnam, 17, one of Mr. Swinehart’s geography students, on a recent morning. “Because they’ll be in places where they don’t have the type of infrastructure to help them rebuild their homes and help them adapt.”