We organically farm 40 acres, producing most of our food/food for others and reducing our fossil fuel usage to do so (solar electric tractor, humanpower and solar/microhydro). We both have ebikes and use them as much as possible, carpool otherwise and drive alone when no other options. We don’t fly. The physio and yoga therapy specialist courses are found online as well as conference attendance online.
Farmer/inventor: solar electric tractor, building solar array + microhydro installation, building solar electric minitruck, human power innovations.
Physio/Yoga: mini clinic to minimal needs, reducing all waste within, ebiking as much as possible, attending (women’s health, pelvic, oncology specialist) courses/conferences online or when carpooling works.
Stopped flying in 2017. I will fly once and long-haul in 2019. Then I’m done until 100% electric planes are a reality. I’m not a firm believer in biofuels for air traffic mainly for the unsustainable forestry practice and since we should prioritize biofuels for ground transportation. We need to understand the urgency, how few people at all travel by air in the word (typically below 5 % ) and to adapt so please do #stayontheground.
Love to travel by train. All Europeans should, for instance, be supported/forced to go by/think train first.
BSc Environmental Science.
Managing Marketing (CMO) at Wedonthavetime.org.
9-28-18: Since reading your book (Being the Change) earlier this year, I made the decision not to fly. I have just made a round trip between Champaign IL and Shenectady, NY. The trip was not easy – rough tracks, etc. We certainly need to improve train travel in the US. The trip was no less tiring than flying. At the age of 80+ I will do this as long as I’m able. I will fly only in the case of a medical emergency.
About a decade ago I realized the magnitude of the carbon footprint of flying and have not flown since. I added that to already becoming a vegetarian at an earlier date, when I learned of the carbon footprint of eating meat.
I have been told that I have influenced others. By the same token, I’ve been influenced by others who’ve made deep cuts to their carbon emissions. I’ve met others who’ve quit flying. In knowing each other we recognize that we are not alone on the journey.
Talking about not flying is less of a taboo subject than it used to be, but not always. It’s a lousy time to shut up about this.
I’m involved as a volunteer with CO2.earth. I look after their Facebook page. There’s also a beautiful website created by another citizen-volunteer Michael McGee. CO2.earth is one of the very first websites under the .earth domain.
In addition to softer forms of climate action I’ve been in numerous marches, protests and was arrested on Burnaby Mountain, BC (2014) getting in the way of pipeline work — the Trans-Mountain Piper line (Kinder Morgan) running from the Alberta tar sands to Greater Vancouver.
I’m in this for my children, grandchildren, all people born and unborn, and the biosphere as a whole. I feel the urgency.
I’m 69 and an artist. I’ll be a climate activist until I croak.
Most people I know recognize that using more than our share of humanity’s carbon budget is an unearned privilege but have a hard time imagining an alternative. I try not to fly so that I can credibly raise the possibility of that world so that we might believe in ourselves to advocate for it.
I also love the people I meet. Long-distance trains, busses, and rideshares are rolling communities. In 10 years of trying not to fly, I have countless magical stories of cultural learning in bus depots and the Amtrak dining car.
I write a lot; I dream of boats…
Only a small percent of Earth’s wealthiest fly regularly. I have found that giving it up is one way to desegregate ourselves from our less-privileged neighbors.
I study how ideas end up in policy, especially the relationship between social movements and technocratic policymaking.
This April, after I installed solar panels, I realized that transport was now about 80% of my carbon footprint. We heat with wood from our land in a super-efficient wood stove; we eat mostly local food; we are getting a plug in electric car to take advantage of our solar panels–but 2 flights to Europe and 4 domestic trips each year for seminars and conferences overwhelmed all our smaller changes. I’ve cut my flights by 75%, and I’ve turned down all but one conference trip, and one seminar each year (that’s the plan, anyway). My colleagues, who are mostly climate historians as well, are doing much the same.
Nancy Langston’s most recent book is Sustaining Lake Superior (Yale UP 2017), which examines climate history in the Lake Superior basin. She is now examining the decline in woodland caribou in the boreal forest, comparing the effects of climate change, habitat loss, and predators. Her CV is posted at nancylangston.net.
Luckily for me I hate flying, because that means my tastes coincide with my moral stance in this regard. I have bought my dream home and enjoy staying put, even though I have friends and relatives all over the world, and would find it pleasant to see them occasionally.
I don’t attend conferences any more, but urge the organizers of those I might have attended to plan instead for teleconferencing, which to my mind could reach more attendees, as well as save on GHGs.
As a philosopher, I’ve spend the last ten years of my academic career analyzing how climate change denial affects science, education, and our societies’ abilities to react to climate change in an appropriate way. It’s ironic that I sometimes have to fly to conferences; I feel urged to do this as I’m not yet tenured. I try to avoid it as often as possible, though.
After I had obtained my PhD in philosophy from Bielefeld University in 2012, I’ve worked at the universities of Bielefeld, Karlsruhe, and Hannover as a postdoc in philosophy of science. My research focuses on the role of moral and political values in science and, more specifically, on the epistemological and societal conditions of climate science.
My concern over aviation’s impact on climate dates to 1971, the year of my aeronautical engineering degree. Aware of high climate sensitivity to CO2 and other forcers, I made much effort that year in writing senators, asking them to kill the supersonic transport (SST) project. Gladly, it was killed; but 30,000 engineers were immediately laid-off, leading my career in another direction before it even started. No regrets.
Since then, I have traveled much less (and less far) by any mode – especially flying – than any of my colleagues, friends or family. Unfortunately my practices have rubbed-off only a little.
I live in Alaska, which, regarding transit, may as well be an island. Ferry service for Alaskan coastal communities has become infrequent over recent times, as flying became more and more popular. Hence, flying is hard to avoid entirely and “the trip not taken” is my primary travel mode. When (rarely) I do go “Outside” to the Lower-48 it is by ferry if possible (but still, that is diesel and, nowadays, there are few passengers so the ferry is an equally poor choice for the climate).
When in the Lower-48, I am totally no-fly, and go from Seattle by bus (best climate choice) or train (diesel, unfortunately). Again, the best trip is the one not taken.
My training as an engineer gave me a deep sense ethics and responsibility concerning safety, which most importantly must extend to the environment and the climate. I cannot fathom why professional engineering organizations are not at the forefront of campaigning to dramatically reduce the production and consumption of fossil fuels, with zero (soon) being the necessity. I think the profession is too focused on technology, which alone won’t save us, and that it is seduced by an inherent conflict of interest with economic growth.
My work has been multi-faceted since the early 1970s, including work as an engineer and as a campaigner for an environmental NGO. I am presently a self-employed environmental consultant.
I reduced my flying 90% starting in August 2017 — only one flight since so far. I insist on as many meetings as possible via skype or zoom. We need to walk the walk. And it feels great.
I work on self-assembling microbial symbioses, which most people would recognize as lichens.
I love ocean science meetings. I love rubbing elbows with colleagues, grad students, undergrads, technicans, communicators and vendors who are passionate about ocean science and eager to share their latest findings, adventures, or inventions. But the cost—personal and environmental—limits my ability and willingness to jump on a plane simply to be part of the crowd. Fortunately, virtual sessions (thanks, AGU), Twitter, and local seminars and meetings allow me to stay up to date, interact with fellow scientists, and engage in science as never before. I think it’s irresponsible to fly given what we know about its effects on our planet. So until we reverse the course of climate change, I remain a passionate but virtual supporter of my fellow scientists and educators.
Professor Sean Chamberlin teaches oceanography, meteorology, and climate science, and mentors undergraduates in research on a variety of topics, including aquaponics, marine debris, and plankton dynamics.
Sustainability is a must. And not even sustainability. We have to reduce. I have to reduce. As an environmental psychologist it would lie to myself if I would fly.
I studied Psychology and now running my PhD in Sufficiency.
My last flight was in 2008, though I didn’t know at the time it would be my last. After the “failure” in Copenhagen, it became clear to me that we cannot expect governments, businesses, or engineers to come up with some magical solution to climate change and the many other problems of our 21st century civilisation – the only way is by everyone, individually, choosing to live a lower impact lifestyle and voting in governments and buying from businesses that support that change. I have also taken many other actions, but choosing not to fly is by far the biggest reduction in emissions relative to the lifestyle I could lead. I think it also helps me to communicate the science, as people can see that I am prepared to act on the conclusions myself rather than telling others what they should do. Ultimately, since none of these actions are going to “save the planet” anyway (if that even means anything), I don’t judge other people’s choices – I can only do what makes me feel better about my own place in the world.
I haven’t found it problematic either personally or professionally. No-one has yet forced me to board a plane! I enjoy taking trains, which are generally comfortable and convenient. The difference in time and cost per trip is less than you would think after airport transfers etc have been factored in, since train stations are typically in town centres. And the overall time and cost is certainly less than most of my peers, since I choose to attend fewer conferences and try to make a greater effort to network well in those I do go to. When asked to give a talk in a location that would be unfeasible to reach by surface transport, I ask if I could, for example, join by video conference or pre-prepare a video talk and take questions on Twitter. I’m also lucky enough to have supportive colleagues and to live in the UK, with plenty of high quality conferences easily accessible here and in Europe (surely any necessary emissions of climate research would be much better spent improving access for researchers from developing countries). Eventually, either we will meet our carbon budgets and flying will be replaced by more effective ways of global networking, or we will miss those carbon budgets, and the impacts of climate change will make flying a luxury of the past. Getting used to it now seems like a good idea either way.
I never really decided not to fly. Especially to begin with, it was an ad hoc decision each time to consider the options, but every time I weighed up in favour of not flying. Now, the longer I keep on with my “winning streak” the more I want to keep it going!
My background is in maths and physics; I have a PhD in climate physics from Imperial College London and I now work in LSE’s Centre for the Analysis of Time Series. My research interests focus on realistic evaluation of climate information for decision-making, communication of the inherent uncertainty, and improving robustness and usability of information that is relevant for decisions in mitigation, adaptation, insurance and business.
Strong sustainability can only work if we’re willing to downshift our economy and lifestyles. “Less is more” should be the new credo and one part of it should be a more responsible way of travelling.
When I travelled by plane during the last years it was either for work or social reasons like weddings. The social expectations will be the hardest to deal with if I won’t fly at all anymore, while my career is my own choice. Flying to conferences all over the world and presenting my work on sufficiency-based lifestyles doesn’t go together very well, so there has to be another way of making a meaningful contribution in academics while sticking with my own ideals and beliefs.
Publication in JPP&M from Master thesis at ESCP Europe in Paris, France, on “The Ecological Impact of Anticonsumption Lifestyles and Environmental Concern”.
Three years of working experience at Bosch, as a freelancer and as research coordinator at the university.
Currently PhD student in Ecological Economics at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, working on “Sufficiency-based business models in transitions towards sustainable consumer practices”.
It started during my PhD studies when I wanted to become acquainted with the medieval writers I was reading. Visit the places and be in the spaces they had lived in as well as gather other materials that could not be found in books. So I decided to go on an Academic Pilgrimage. I could not really take the time off to walk all through Central Europe nor did I find an option where horseback was offered for a reasonable price. My option was thus the inter-rail passes offered. After my first journey from Finland to Portugal and back, I was hooked. The slowness of the long train rides offered time and space for reflections, reading and writing. Dressed in my medieval clothes and traveling in this way opened up for insights and scientific inquiries I argue could not have come in any other way. Today I have continued the habit to go by bus, boat or train whenever possible and I am grateful my university supports this, even though it is more time-consuming and sometimes even more expensive then air-travel.
Researcher in Systematic Theology investigating how dancing in churches reveal patterns of exclusion along the lines of gender, race and class, in the thought patterns of theology.
Having lived in Europe and the Bay Area for the last twenty years (with a three year stint in LA, where I mostly used my bike to travel), I have enjoyed being able to live without a car. My quality of life is greatly enhanced, and my conscience, too.
Flying, however, has always been a challenge. As an academic, conferences are often far. To keep progressing on a career path, too often not attending a major conference has meant more anxiety than that produced through reflecting on the known harm I am causing to the biosphere and future generations.
While solar-electric airplanes and electric barges will certainly lessen the carbon load, part of the harm to the environment comes from the the disease of wanderlust. The belief that the grass is greener on the other side of the planet.
Inside of the US, and inside of Europe, I don’t fly. To get from one continent to another, however, is another matter entirely. So, my approach has been minimizing extraneous travel. Asking the question, “do I really need to go there?” and then often turning down the offers and finding peace and satisfaction with the many events accessible by train and locally.
One thing I’d like to see is the embodiment of the true ecological price of flying. Right now, it is often more expensive (in Europe, especially) to take a train from point A to B than a plane, even though the ecological footprint is many times larger.
Yogi Hale Hendlin is an environmental philosopher and public health policy researcher working on questions of industrial epidemics, and how to integrate ecological communication into politics.
Flying sucks. Academics are expected to be honoured by the invitation to fly somewhere and talk for free. We spend time traveling for free, we usually get economy seats, we lose work time after the trip to jet lag… all of this time could actually be spent doing research that changes the world. I am an Australian academic. I lose 2 days of my life flying to other side of the world, and another 2 days flying back. Then I am 4 days behind in my other work. The whole idea of academics flying around to deliver presentations or attend meetings is incredibly inefficient – food waste, overwhelming plastic waste. #iflyvegan to try to offset my carbon footprint. I think all academic meetings involving people who have flown in should be vegan events to try to offset the carbon footprint of flying.
I am a cultural anthropologist internationally recognised for my research on human-animal relations, natural disaster preparedness and food waste.
My story is the story of life: I love life and I belong to the magnificent story of it. Climate change threatens everything alive that I love, and I have painfully realized that my life is a part of the problem. Because of this, climate change is my problem and I have made a public commitment to reduce my carbon footprint into the size of one Earth until 2025. I choose the role of problem solver and my concrete utopia is the good life and career size of one planet – a kind of life generations now growing up can be proud of tomorrow. I want to see the world where we adults wise up to protect everyone’s future with our lifechoices. Today.
I have taken 70 steps out of 80 needed: my carbon footprint was 3 tonnes 2017 compared to 10 tonnes which was the level where I started 2006. At the moment, I’m not aware of any way to combine my carbon footprint goal with air travel. Last time I flew was the summer of 2011. Back then I decided to travel from Finland to Brazil to meet again with a lady from Brazil that I had a powerful romance with as exchange student 2010 in Canada. My inner conflict (I was already well aware of climate effects of flying that time) and longing for her were both enormous and painful. After this, I have continuously decided to choose better transportation free from flying. But what if I would decide to fly to Brazil again? This means I would take 59 steps backwards out of those 70 steps taken when it comes to the level of sustainable carbon footprint. Not really worth it. Last year my carbon footprint of mobility and transportation was 30 times less than 2011. A life free from flying is indeed very powerful.
Mikko works as doctoral researcher in the University of Tampere, Finland. He is an elementary school teacher and adult educator action studying tackling climate change by means of learning. In his current research, he is unifying Carbon Conversations approach to Finnish national curricula to create the learning community model for Finnish basic education and the international application of social networking service Climate Love Story with vision of “one hundred million people learning sustainable well-being in friendly social networking service by the year 2030”. Mikko is particularly interested in ecosocial education and sustainable well-being from the perspective of emotions.
I won’t say that I have completely given up flying, but I choose my traveling by air much more carefully now. I fly a lot less frequently because of my concern for the massive carbon footprint of air travel.
Once I realized how much carbon pollution I was generating by flying, all I could think when I traveled was “My kids are going to have to clean up this mess.” Since then I restrict my travel to only those trips that are absolutely necessary and try to attend local conferences rather than international ones.
Austin Minnich is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics at Caltech. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science from UC Berkeley in 2006, followed by an S.M. and Ph.D from MIT’s Mechanical Engineering in 2008 and 2011, respectively. He started his faculty appointment in September 2011.
Researching climate change litigation, I decided I no longer wanted to fly around the world. I take trains and busses instead. I love to be on the night train. Also, I try to push for a sustainable travel policy at my university. The University of Gent already has a sustainable travel policy, which I think can provide a great example.
I work at the private law department of the University of Amsterdam, where I write my PhD thesis ‘Justitia, the People’s Power and Mother Earth’. It concerns the democratic legitimacy of climate change litigation in European private law, and critically analyses how this concept of legitimacy is shifting towards the inclusion of people abroad, future generations and non-human entities. After having completed my PhD by the end of 2019, I want to focus more on rights of nature.
We love travel. With our kids, we made a dream list of places to go before they head off to college. We were fortunate to travel to Europe and Japan with them. But I was also flying for conferences twice per year. When we all sat down and looked at our carbon footprint, one area that stood out the most was air travel. So we adjusted our goals, changed trips to those closer in the Pacific NW (Big Sur instead of Provence, National Parks instead of Galapagos) and stopped flying for work.
We still will take trips to show kids the world, it’s a part of them learning to care about it. But we have limited air travel significantly because of this recognition.
Gastroenterologist, college biology/environmentalist who hopes to get back to it soon after retirement!
I decided not to fly for one and half years. I (re)discovered the pleasures of train travel (visiting friends and colleagues on the way, the moving office experience, the feel of doing the right thing). At the end of the project I (provisionally) decided to fly at most once a year. Now I am thinking that I should define a cost/benefit analysis for my flights (still restricted them to one a year).
I also sold my car, became vegan, and have recently completed a winter tour of Europe by bike (sometimes by train) spreading with my body and my bike the message that we need to act boldly to mitigate climate change. Great experience. I visited universities, a PhD workshop, and conferences in five countries. I gave several presentations and worked intensively on two papers with visited colleagues. Cycling oxygenated my brain and cleared my thoughts. The papers made a real jump forward.
#sabbicycle! (sabbatical on the bike)
I work on how institutions affect socio-economic conduct in several areas. Recently I studied processes of denial related to climate change and ethics in the livestock industry. I also study status dynamics and stigmatization in delicate fields such as agriculture and food.
Humanity is committed under the Paris agreements to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in order to mitigate the ongoing climate catastrophe. I have read the scientific reports estimating the current “global carbon budget” not to be exceeded, and taken note of the carbon footprint of long-haul flights. I endorse the notion of “climate emergency.” I am committed to drastically reducing my travel by plane and reach a zero-fly objective by 2020.
Xavier Anglaret’s research is in the area of infectious diseases in lower income countries. He works closely with university colleagues in Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa). Their main areas of research are HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
Before I estimated my CO2 emissions, I had no idea that flying accounted for almost all of it. In 2010 I made a simple pie chart of my emissions. 50,000 miles of flying, almost all in the name of science, took up 75% of the pie chart! Obviously, no other reductions to my emissions really mattered until I stopped flying.
With a realistic sense of the impact of my flying, it came to feel wrong. I also began to question how necessary it was. In 2011 I flew 20,000 miles, and by 2012 I’d stopped flying. I’ve attended meetings remotely, traveled to them by train (although diesel-powered trains in the US aren’t as low-energy as you might think), and I’ve even traveled on a container ship (which was carrying atmospheric instrumentation such as radars and weather balloons for a field campaign). I drive all over the United States in a 35-year-old car that burns 100% waste vegetable oil from a local sushi joint. I find slow travel to be adventurous, a great way to visit old friends and get in some backpacking, and — if on a train or a ship — a great way to focus and get lots of work done. The old car is a fun thing for me because I enjoy the engineering challenge of keeping it running and out of the landfill! The higher that old odometer rolls, the prouder I feel.
I don’t currently foresee a need to fly. My close relatives live in the United States, and in case of emergencies I can drive or train to be with them.
Once I stopped flying, it did make sense to address my other sources of emissions. I currently emit less than 2 tonnes of CO2 per year, a tenth of the US average. I still look for ways to further reduce my emissions, but now I’m more interested in sharing what I’ve learned and helping people in my community reduce their emissions, too. Many of these people are inspired by my changes and have made significant changes of their own. I’m not under any illusions that my personal reductions have a significant impact when weighed against the emissions of more than 7.5 billion other people. But I believe that in making the changes I’ve made, I’m telling a new story and showing people what’s possible. Plus I just like it better.
My experience is that effective advocacy starts when we change our own lives. I’ve found it empowering to reduce my own emissions, and also surprisingly fun. I haven’t found low-energy living to be a sacrifice.
Peter is an atmospheric scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory / Caltech, speaking on his own behalf. He uses satellite and in situ data to study clouds, tornadoes, and climate. He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University, and originally searched for gravitational waves with the LIGO collaboration before switching to Earth science due to a need to learn about climate change. His book, Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution describes what one person can do in response to the massive problem of global warming. Peter is the founder and editor of noflyclimatesci.org.
I try to fly less by: (i) packaging meetings, workshops, field work activities into fewer and longer trips; (ii) actively seeking out conferences within bus/train distances and; (iii) substituting physical presence with online communication for meetings, theses assessments, and other shorter engagements. I have also pushed my department at University of Copenhagen to create a policy to reduce flying and substituting it with other forms of transport where possible – am happy to share it upon request:)
I am professor of political ecology at the University of Copenhagen with an interest in equity, justice and knowledge production around natural resources governance. I have worked on participatory or decentralized approaches to forestry and wildlife management in Tanzania and Nepal, timber governance in Ghana, and economic and social issues of hunting and other recreational uses of landscape in Denmark.
I am a journalist, and I cover the aerospace industry. Efforts to make aircraft more efficient are massive and earnest – but all improvements in individual aircraft emissions are being swamped by soaring demand for flights and aircraft. In short, in a world that must slash emissions in absolute terms, there is no answer but to fly less.
Entering a plane for work has become a paradoxical action. The global exchange and research for resilient food systems becomes increasingly necessary, however, if allowed to grow unrestrained, flying will do more harm than good in the future.
I believe that flying for our research is more permissible than for touristic purposes. However, even for our work flying should be left as last resort, after making use of all the electronic communication there is now, and that insight is fortunately increasingly common in our work area.
For my work I only have had to travel by train, but for my master studies I once resolved to cross the ocean on a container ship, instead of an airplane. While this still has a large environmental impact, it was a great experience and inspired others to consider their impact while traveling.
Since end 2017 I have been working as research assistant for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), hosted by the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. I started working here, while completing my MSc Climate Studies.
As a researcher who works primarily in the Global South it is difficult to marry my commitment to fly less with my work which involves international travel. However, I have taken some practical steps: 1.) for travel in Europe I do not fly’ 2.) for long haul travel I go for longer but less frequently; 3.) I think carefully about whether or not to attend conferences and how this can be done (either in person or virtually). These simple steps have helped me to cut down on the amount of flights I take so I am reducing my personal footprint.
I am a researcher in environmental change and international development. I am particularly interested in the mobility of human populations and the links this has with the environment and climate change. My work is currently focused on India although I have also worked in different parts of Africa (notably Kenya and Ethiopia) and China.
Since 2006, when I collided with my own hypocrisy after flying to N.America in order to do a climate change awareness bike ride (It’s OK because I’m going for three months and using it for a good cause = my flight is special = a great eg of a highly typical and deeply problematic attitude to flying) I’ve been on a self-imposed flight ration of no more than one flight per three years. I do a lot of public speaking on climate change and find this is more effective in inspiring others to follow than exhorting people not to fly at all (though clearly that would be even better.) I’ve recently returned from cycling the length of S.America on a bamboo bike to raise awareness and inspire action on biodiversity loss and crossed the Atlantic on a cargo ship.
Ethics, values and sustainable development
Environmental ethics and animal welfare
Need for world-view and values change
The elephant in the air.
“You won’t get people to stop flying, Dave” – everyone always used to assure me – as I called myself the carbon coach to the rich and famous, back in 2005. No, but I can stop myself, I probably thought.
Part of me was sure they were right. And anyway, I surely didn’t want to ‘stop’ anyone from doing anything. But I did choose to live in ‘active hope’ that frequent flyers would soon (in 2018 perhaps?) come to realise, be conscious of, and take responsibility for, the well-hidden but jumbo-sized planet-trashing impacts of their personal flying habit.
‘Hidden’ as in invisible, concealed, and unspoken of: a taboo. Like an elephant, hanging in the air?
‘Invisible’ like the accumulating atmospheric greenhouse gases we chose not to see; ‘concealed’ by the travel, holiday and associated industries, in a commercial media-wide conspiracy of radio silence; and ‘unspoken of’ largely, by, well most of us. Until now.
For me, having done the maths and looked at the climate science in the 1990s, it was a no brainer. And I don’t fly. I made that pledge two decades ago. (And last flew long-haul in 1981.)
In the past I would often play it down: saying that it ‘went with the territory’ if you call yourself the carbon coach; or that I didn’t actually much like flying; and that I didn’t really much want to fly anywhere anyway. Which was partially true. And partially untrue. “Not like flying?” – How could an engineer, nature lover, bread-winner and former GB athlete not like flying?
The thrill, the power, the majesty, the ascendance, the transcendence through cloud, the view, and the experience – what’s not to like? The acceleration during take-off, the thrust, and the trust, given to an invisible pilot whose skill delivers a (low-jeopardy-dose) thrill – during touch down. How could anyone suggest that life could be bearable without these things?
“Don’t want to fly anywhere?” – how could anyone not want to see the wonders of the world. To witness different climates, tribes, landscapes, oceans ecosystems, forests rivers and mountains.
How could anyone not want to fly?
I guess that’s true. And I observe that I don’t want to fly to see ecosystems if that means I am party to a collective act of unwittingly destroying them. As in “Last chance to see”. But I can be (and am) an avid viewer of all Sir David Attenborough’s programmes, and armed with a good energy efficient television I can transport myself anywhere in the world and see anything: from outer space, to molecular biology, to ocean depths. I don’t need to fly to see what others have flown to see.
And I notice that I am lucky. In that currently I do not need to fly to be with loved ones. All my family and loved ones still live relatively locally. So far. Many friends are not in the same fortunate position and some now have grandchildren spread across the globe. Love miles. A moral maze. The only solution to which is a new commitment to try to bring our ‘nearest and dearest’ back to being nearest once again. Or to learn to love the people and the places where we are, not where we wish we could be. To ‘love local’ – in effect reversing the process of (50 years of) far-scattering tribes all over the planet. Because we could. It’s time to regroup friends. And to love the people and place we call home.
Dave is a prolific campaigner for social and ecological justice, and an ethical brand ambassador who stood for MP for Beaconsfield, for the Green Party, in UK GE2015. He gives counsel over coffee (carbon coaching) to individuals and families, CEO’s and celebs., and has his own weekly radio show “Watt Next?” on Marlow FM 97.5. Dave initially studied Engineering at Cambridge University. At the age of 23, he was selected for GB in rowing.
The first 25 years of his professional career he spent influencing thought-leaders and ‘captains of industry’ towards deeper sustainability. In 2005 he set up on his own as ‘The Carbon Coach’ – the world’s first. He has won several awards for Sustainability Leadership. In March 2016 he delivered his first (sustainable) stand up comedy set in Soho, London, appearing as the “carbon carbon carbon carbon carbon komedian”
Dave is now working with a number of Olympians who are speaking out courageously on today’s ethical issues.
As an Africanist from the start of my academic life in the mid-1980s, I have flown up and down to southern Africa and other parts of the world for research and professional reasons. I can no longer live with myself doing that all the time and want to get the conversation rolling in academia about our flying habits. As an academic who has flown all his life I am complicit as hell myself, which maybe gives in some weird way a reason to start and contribute to that conversation.
Assistant professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and African Studies Centre Leiden and Research Fellow at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Research focus on private wildlife conservation, human-animal studies and diversity in higher education in South Africa.
I haven’t flown in 21 years, my husband only a few times. We lived/worked abroad for many years, so we figured our carbon footprint was already pretty large.
When my husband and I retired 22 years ago we chose to live in the woods, stewarding 100 year old trees. We’re long time vegans, grow much of our organic food, drive as little as possible and stay put. We have an efficient wood burning stove, recycle ashes and char to the soil. We buy many items second hand. We continue planting trees on these 20 acres.
I didn’t stop flying to make a statement, really, but I just can’t stand the thought of the 100,000-year climate impacts. The last time I flew I just wanted to puke. Also I feel that if I, who knows something about climate change, don’t take it seriously, who will? But I know it’s not saving the world or convincing anybody, so that’s not why I’m doing it.
I do computational ocean and sediment geochemistry, modeling the CaCO3 cycle, methane hydrates, and most recently oceanic mercury. I wrote a textbook for a global warming class, supported by a web page full of models and an on-line MOOC at coursera.org. I also wrote The Long Thaw about the longevity of the climate impacts from fossil carbon use, and a couple of other global warming books.
As a researcher examining the interface of climate change and livelihood shifts, reducing my carbon footprint is a professional and personal issue for me. I try to do so by walking to work, carpooling, recycling and eating less meat. However, these options are difficult to engage with when the systems and institutions in a country disincentivise them. For example, Indian cities are not particularly known for being walkable or having cycling tracks, making these options perilous (two years ago, noted environmentalist, Sunita Narain was run over while cycling to work in Delhi).
Flying less is often put forth as a positive behavioural change with a large impact on individual emissions. I have consciously started flying less, either clubbing meetings to reduce multiple trips or taking the train if that is an option. However, again, being a researcher based in the global South, there are some challenges that are seldom recognised in narratives around ‘climate researchers must walk the talk’. First, with distances as large as they are in India, train rides can last well over 12-15 hours (and up to 24-36 hours if you are traversing the country). Taking such options might often mean travelling over the weekend, eating into time one reserves for family or self-care. Second, important conferences in my field are often held in America or Europe (e.g. Adaptation Futures 2016 was in Rotterdam, the Cities and Climate Change Conference 2018 is in Edmonton). Getting to these and showcasing one’s work is usually only possible by flying, often at a large financial and physical cost.
An argument I hear often is to not attend these conferences at all, thus eliminating the need to travel completely. Often, such suggestions come well-established researchers, with strong networks and an extensive body of work. To young researchers in my team, many of whom will use conferences to travel abroad for the first time in their life, the pros of presenting their ideas to an international audience, getting feedback on their work, and experiencing a different culture, outweighs concerns of carbon emissions. This is why, while I applaud my European colleagues who choose to take the train instead of flying from say the Netherlands to Sweden or France to the UK, I am unable to provide similar stories of restraint.
I continue to make small amends – offsetting some of the miles, using social media and livestreaming to learn of new advances in my field, and sharing with my team, opportunities to present closer to home. And though I try to fly less, as a researcher based out of South Asia and presenting on international platforms, I find it hard to do.
Chandni is a researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore. At IIHS, she works on issues of climate change, vulnerability, adaptation, and migration. This includes research on the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-arid Regions (ASSAR) project in South India and coordinating an IIED-funded project ‘Long-term Implications of Short-term Humanitarian Action’ in Chennai. She is also Chapter Scientist on the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees and Book Reviews Editor for Progress in Development Studies. She has previously worked in research and practice-based organisations such as the University of Reading (UK), Bioversity International, Pragya, and WWF India across India, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Her main domains of work have included climate information services, water management, biodiversity conservation, gendered vulnerability, and community-based adaptation, with a thrust on using mixed methods. She holds a PhD in International Development from the University of Reading and an MSc in Natural Resource Management from TERI University. She speaks here on her own behalf.
I’m educated on the crisis and passionately engaged for our three daughters so I try to inspire privately and professionally by reducing my footprint to below 2 tones.
I am increasingly alarmed at our capacity as a species for cognitive dissonance combined with our destructive behaviour when it comes to the environment- ornithologists jetting around the world to catch a glimpse of increasingly threatened species as just one small example.
I have an understanding of it because I’ve been there myself, justifying hugely damaging travel in various ways despite knowing deep down that my actions are wrong. We are all required to twist ourselves to fit into a culture that is insane, yet it is vital that there are people who are prepared to stand by their values. A poem I read contained the line ‘watch the hands, let the voice go buzzing’. Role modelling is so important- too many people pay lip service to the environmental problems we have created yet their behaviour runs contrary to their words, fatally undermining their meaning.
In Western society flying is connected with success, progress, excitement, action and hedonistic pleasure and all those things are seductive- we are continually unsettled by the idea that travel, far and wide, provides life with meaning. Part of a change of thinking that brings us back into closer alignment with a sustainable existence will need to involve a shift in our economic system away from all out consumerism. Beyond role modelling I think flights will need to be severely rationed, because it seems unlikely that enough of the general public will change behaviours willingly when flying is so ‘cheap’ and we have been indoctrinated into a consumer mindset that cares little for the rights of nature.
I have taken 2 flights in the last 10 years and have found slower travel requires more justification and with that comes higher investment in any trips taken. A result of this is less long distance travel resulting in a greater appreciation and knowledge of my own area encouraging me to value and invest more in where I live. This is really important to a sense of agency and does not run counter to an engagement with environmental issues at a more global level.
The contrast to my own past behaviour and that of many around me has also highlighted to me how, despite its normalisation, air travel is a collective madness that is causing widespread damage and encourages a reckless attitude towards our environment.
Outdoor Education Teaching: 15 years of Environmental and Outdoor Education with young people 10-18 years of age. Current employers:
Outward Bound Trust- Wales
Ty’n y Berth Mountain Centre
Simply, if I talk – not preach – about global warming, I should set an example for my friends, students and colleagues. After a long career of flying all over the planet to scientific meetings to glorify my research in front of my colleagues, attending ‘planning meetings’ that achieved little, serving on review panels that could have been done by telecom and, worst of all, competed with my peers for Frequent Flyer Miles, I realized that I was missing the basic fact – my carbon footprint was embarrassing. I went almost cold-turkey and have flown only twice in the last six years. I speak more than ever; all over Southern California. I definitely don’t miss airports, uncomfortable planes, lousy hotels and haven’t had jet lag in years. Yea! While others fly to the many types of meetings, I telecom in! Neither do I flaunt my ‘virtue’ (well a little) to others. My contribution to decreasing atmospheric carbon is minuscule, but I feel good about my decision. I note the prompt for this came from Peter Kalmus. Thanks for the suggestion Peter!
He is a graduate of Purdue University and went on to earn a Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Bill began his career on the research faculty of the University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., and then moved to JPL. During his career, he has served as a consultant to many respected organizations including NASA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, United Nations and many scientific and environmental groups. He has received many awards for scientific accomplishments, as well as communicating science to the public.
In my childhood and teens I was fascinated by the natural world, and collected invertebrate pets, and pinned insects. I did voluntary work in a museum. At 18 I had a psychedelic awakening, an epiphany, using mushrooms, and this altered my relationship with our supporting ecology, and I ‘dropped out’, became vegetarian, and an activist involved in social justice and sustainability. In 1991 I started an Environmental Health BSc, and followed the Rio Earth Summit, and subsequently became involved in York Local Agenda 21, lobbying the Council to employ a LA21 Officer, a post which later became their Sustainability Officer. I earned a living as entertainer Professor Fiddlesticks whilst doing things like running a LETSystem, starting a Credit Union, starting York Rotters and many others. In 2007, I was part of a Carbon Rationing Action Group and entered the Oxfam Carbon Footprint Competition, and won that with the lowest footprint in the UK, less than a twelfth of the UK average!
I last flew in 1997, to Spain for a holiday. I also do not drive, but lead a very full and happy life. I am currently helping to develop a patented low carbon, low cost funeral technology.
I went on a scientific expedition to Trinidad and Tobago in 1984 and studied the diet of the Cane Toad, Bufo marinus by analysing their faeces. My undergrad dissertation was on local authority composting operations and promotions (1993-4). I have not become an academic, as such, and prefer to work in other ways. I’m a regular public speaker at Skeptics In The Pub, Humanists and other groups on a variety of subjects I’ve researched, including climate change, low carbon living, composting, green funerals, and Arctic methane.
Hear me speak here: https://youtu.be/7l7wkAI3Io8
Stop air pollution, aircraft noise and climate change. “Fly less” is possible in this time of fast internet and videoconferencing. If scientists do not start flying less, who will?
I’ve been avoiding flights since 2003 when I started my first post-doctoral research position at the Tyndall Centre based in the University of Manchester. My research focus at the time was quantifying the impact of aviation on the climate, and comparing it with global and national goals and targets to avoid so-called ‘dangerous climate change’. Taking on this topic, it became immediately clear that the rate of aviation growth, and its associated CO2, was at odds with the UK’s own climate targets, as well as those being discussed within the EU Commission. In addition to this, I’d started working for the first time in an interdisciplinary research group, where engineers and physical scientists sit alongside social scientists and economists. Discussions around personal and institutional behaviour, the roles of individuals and communities, governments and NGOs were all frequent topics of conversation, often with a focus on flying. As a result my view on flying galvanised over time. I did not stop flying altogether until 2005, but my views became stronger the more frequently I presented the following conclusion to various audiences: that aviation has few technical options for decarbonisation, particularly in the necessary timeframe, and that cutting CO2 from aviation requires ‘demand management’. After delivering this message, I would frequently find that many audiences immediately asked if I flew to the conference, or flew much in my job. Academic or industry-focused discussions often became personalised.
So, whilst some will argue that individual behavioural change makes little impact on global levels of CO2, and therefore there is little merit in making a change, it was plain to me that my aviation-related behaviour mattered to some. To fly to a conference and tell an audience that the aviation sector needs to (at least) curb growth rates, started to seem highly contradictory. However, when I also described how policy options such as taxes, personal carbon allowances or emissions trading needed to be strong enough to ‘manage demand’ – and therefore require public support before policymakers will push hard enough – it put my own behaviour in the spot-light. It seemed to me that if I continued to fly it would be like a GP telling a patient to give up smoking while a packet of her cigarettes sat openly on the table, waiting for the next cigarette break.
Finally then, to my view on personal flying behaviour: it is that climate change experts, scientists, policymakers and anyone who understands the scale of the climate change challenge we face, will be considered role models by some, maybe many. We are influential, and what we do matters. I don’t believe that the climate problem will be solved by voluntary behaviour change, but I also don’t think policymakers will have a strong enough mandate unless individuals start to demonstrate how things can be different. Examples of having great holidays, keeping properly in touch with friends and family or being able to maintain an international academic reputation, all without flying, need to be demonstrated. And they probably need to be demonstrated by people who have influence, and can gain some level of trust on the issue of climate change. And I think that is people like me.
Alice is a Professor in Climate Science & Energy Policy as part of the Tyndall Centre and Head of the School of Mechanical, Civil and Aerospace Engineering, University of Manchester. Her research currently focuses on international transport and water-energy-food system scenarios within a climate change context. Alice trained as an astrophysicist at the University of Leeds and did her PhD in climate modelling at Imperial College.
The World Medical Association (WMA) launched in Oct. 2014 a call for all governments to reduce soot from lorries, cars, planes etc. for sake of health and climate.
I brought in the idea and discussed a lot worldwide. I attend congresses only if virtual or if they are within reach by (night) trains.
My work is to influence people and institutions, especially companies, to work with health and climate and not against. Co-benefits are the core, meat and muscle powered mobility but also stress through multi-options (fear of missing out).
I could reduce the emissions of my house (12 flats) nearly to zero, and use bicycle, train or hybrid for my frequent traveling.
I am a historian of the United States based in the UK. This means all of my major professional conferences and research archives (often still needing to be visited in person) are in the USA. I am currently engaging in multiple trips across the Atlantic a year. This is unsustainable and my joining this site is a commitment to reducing this to one or no trips.
I research eighteenth century American history, and have specialized in spatial and economic history.
Have known about climate change for over 20 years and figured at the time that of course once everybody understood the urgency, they would stop flying so my partner and I moved across Canada (from the Gaspe Coast to BC) in order to live close to our 2 sons and grandchildren. It is unbelievable to me to see people still encouraged to fly given the available technology and worse to see retirees make travelling their life goal when it is clearly immoral.
I worked as a computer programmer and senior manager for Nortel and then computer education program developer for John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Qc. I studied psychology at Concordia University but am now retired and am director of www.sensociety.org and the co-founder of beesafemonashees.org where I publish blogs and research.
My research is aimed at developing more sustainable and environmental friendly farming practices, soI had to also to act in this direction. Therefore I decided to forego planes within France and use the train and in others cases every time is possible. I prefer to organize a web conference in order to limit as much as possible my carbon foot-print and to be coherent with my research.
I am an agronomist and intercropping (mixing at least 2 species in the same field) is my main area of expertise, but I also developed knowledge on cropping system design in low input farming in collaborations with technical institutes and organic farmers.
I am a computer scientist who has increasingly become involved in how digital technologies and how they can support environmental scientists in addressing grand challenges around climate change, and environmental change more generally. This led to a conflict in my life – a strong awareness of climate change and yet I was flying everywhere – often as much as twice a month. This was a huge contradiction in my life and I eventually took a pledge to not fly for work. This has been a hugely positive step for me personally although there is a risk of being cut-off from my communities. I also recognize that this would be a harder step to take if I was less established in my career. I feel the whole system has to change and that academics and researchers are behind the curve in thinking about our carbon footprint.
I am a Distinguished Professor of distributed systems at Lancaster University. I still carry out fundamental research in distributed systems, including middleware architectures but my research is increasingly targeted at how digital technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and data science can help support environmental sciences as they move towards a more open, integrative and collaborative style of science. I also lead the Environmental theme of Lancaster’s Data Science Institute and am a founding member of the Centre for Environment Data Science, a joint venture between Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
For over thirty years I have advocated for environmental protection as an environmental lawyer and environmental law teacher. As a proud environmentalist, I have always tried to be generally aware of my footprint on the world ecosystem. But about a decade ago it dawned on me that some of the regional ecosystem based environmental battles I have been fighting have spanned decades – these include the battle to limit fish mortality from Hudson River power plant cooling systems and the battle to limit New York City’s discharge of warm turbid water in a fabled trout stream. The impacts of climate change that we will see in coming decades suddenly seemed less remote. I began to worry that as environmental advocates we have all been so focused on individual ecosystems that we ignore the impact of our actions on the global climate system, which will overwhelm the local ecosystems.
Environmental law is a system for internalizing the costs of adverse environmental harms – the polluter pays principle. I routinely teach that it is irresponsible for industrial concerns to harm ecosystems for profit, and that industry excuses such as “everyone does it” or “my pollution just by itself would not cause a problem” is not an excuse for avoiding responsibility. The system of environmental regulation seeks to internalize these collective harms to those responsible.
I believe that those excuses don’t work for individuals either. Everyone should look at their own carbon footprint and decide how it fits into a carbon-limited world. When I looked at my own footprint, the big carbon footprint items were clear – air travel, home heating and electric commuting to work. I set about reducing each of those to a level commensurate with response to the climate crisis. I was already bicycling and kayaking to work regularly; substituting the bus and (eventually) and electric motorcycle and car, together with a RE contract, eliminated that element of my footprint. Setting my thermostat a bit lower and adding a woodstove to my home has reduced my heating footprint.
I found it easy to give up most professional and pleasure air travel. I am lucky to be tenured and have no need to further establish myself professionally. I have been to some great places by plane and by sailboat, with no more than one roundtrip plane flight per year.
I have been blogging about leading a rich and rewarding low-carbon lifestyle at www.livesustainablynow.com.
Karl Coplan is Professor of Law and the Director of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
I have not flown since 2012 and I intend not to fly again. Decreasing air travel is a positive step, but only one of many changes necessary to achieve a sustainable planet. As important as they are, only so much can be accomplished through individual actions like these, in comparison to broader systemic changes. The time is long overdue to recognize that global capitalism, with its grow-or-die imperative, is incompatible with sustainability.
Capitalism is waging a war against nature. This war includes exploding mountain tops for the cheapest possible extraction of coal. It includes expanding dead zones in the ocean, poisoning, flooding, and burying vast swaths of the biosphere for the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals, as well as increased air travel. The ever-increasing efficiency in waging this war serves to lower costs, increase consumption, and accelerate global warming and environmental devastation of the planet.
The economic, political, and cultural strands of capitalism are so integrated into our thinking that real intellectual effort is required to recognize it as a threat to survival and to acknowledge the possibility of sustainable alternatives. We need to change this.
David Klein is a mathematical physicist and professor of mathematics at California State University, Northridge, where he is also director of the Climate Science Program, a NASA funded educational program designed to prepare students for careers or graduate work in climate science and related fields. He is the author of the free ebook, “Capitalism and Climate Change: The Science and Politics of Global Warming.”
While living in Toulouse, I have lots of meetings in Paris (700km). I try as much as possible to avoid the airplane shuttle and rather use the night train. I hope it will not be discontinued.
Landscape ecologist involved in biodiversity conservation and agro ecology.
In 2014, I decided never again to fly to an academic conference unless invited. Since then I have flown twice to conferences in response to invitations, but in both cases I could have avoided flying, once by taking a long train trip and in the other by organising a live stream. There is no looking back now: while flying seems increasingly wrong, the number of interesting conferences in Europe that can be reached within 24 hours on a train just keeps going up. I use that time writing my presentation, reading literature, and so on. Never a dull moment. The conference I am organizing on four continents in July 2018 (ICMPC15/ESCOM10) will half the carbon footprint per participant and future conferences could reduce it by 90%.
I am a music psychologist, or more generally a systematic musicologist, at the University of Graz, Austria. I’m interested in the cognitive processes underlying our understanding and enjoyment of music – an empirical psychological approach to music theory. I also do research about music performance, the origins of music, and collaboration between humanities and sciences.
I have newly had a baby which, alongside the general peak in pubic concern, has made me want to take action over climate change. I live in Norway but am from the UK which poses a challenge as there are not very many easy alternatives from Norway. My husband and I would like to purchase an electric car to make these journeys although this would take several days. He is an environmental psychologist and I have been shocked by the requirement to fly to other countries to partake in a climate change conference!
This poses challenges for junior researchers who do not want to jeopardize their career but do not want to contribute to climate change. Make conferences digital!
I also feel its time to stop flying for holidays, especially long haul. I can’t believe we still do this!
I was at a Gordon Conference in Ventura CA, just finished giving a talk, and while I was there, I received an invite to another meeting to be held at the Great Barrier Reef in 6 months, largely to be attended by the same people who just heard my talk.
Low temperature physics, quantum devices
In my position in the Landsat 9 Project, there’s every “opportunity” to travel to our satellite and sensor contractor facilities for design reviews, test readiness reviews, tests, and the like. Many of my cohorts enjoy the time away and the accumulation of frequent flyer mileage and overnight hotel stays. It is a challenge to stay back in the home office and participate via low-res video conference or worse. But I do, and probably halve my professional carbon footprint by doing so. I also purchase carbon offsets annually to offset my unavoidable air travel emissions; it’s not ideal but I can afford it and it’s a reminder to travel less in the coming year.
Deployable structures and appendages such as high gain antenna booms and solar array wings are a specialty of mine, but mostly my work requires a broad understanding of mechanical design and the vulnerabilities of spacecraft structures, mechanical assemblies, etc. to ground test and launch environments.
I’m a piano tuner living in London, England. My carbon footprint is approximately 2 tonnes per year. I take about one long-haul return flight every two years. I never take short-haul flights – I use rail or road, bicycle or a combination instead. My last two return flights I packed my dismantled bicycle into a bag and reassembled it in Buenos Aires to ride out of the airport to my grandma’s house.
She was 96 years old and I wanted to see her again before she passed away. My point is that I will fly if I feel it’s for a really important reason and the alternative transport takes weeks at a prohibitive cost. It has now been four years since my last flight but if my brother who lives in Texas gets married this autumn I will fly to his wedding.
I volunteer with grassroots networks that organise direct action for climate justice – causing logistical difficulties for companies that are trying to expand their airports, dig new open-cast coal mines, and spearhead the fracking industry in the UK. Some of my comrades refuse to fly, ever.
But this is how I see it… 65 million people in the UK, but only perhaps 10,000 people radical enough to reduce their carbon footprint to near-zero. Per capita UK emissions are about 10 tonnes CO2e per year (plus several more in indirect emission from imported goods, lets roll with 10 for the purpose of this argument). By living a near-zero carbon lifestyle the 10k radicals are saving 10k/yr emissions, but their lifestyle is so far removed from the mainstream that most other people see it as impossible. In contrast if all UK citizens were encouraged to make reasonable concessions to halve their footprint that’s 325 million tonnes CO2e per year emissions saved!
Volunteer with Reclaim the Power, a UK-based grassroots direct action network for environmental and social justice. I’m taking action to prevent the gas and oil fracking industry from taking off in the UK, and also to see more justice in aviation.
The British fly more than anyone else in the world, and 70% of all flights are taken by 15% of the population – the frequent flyers. They are currently rewarded and I want to campaign for them to be penalised. To scrap passenger duty and replace it with a Frequent Flyers Levy – one tax-free flight per years but each additional flight is taxed more.
In 2013 I decided that it was time I walked the walk on climate change. One of the things I decided to do was reduce my flying, which was about once a year. After one last flight in May 2014 I haven’t flown since. I will fly if I decide it’s important personally or professionally, but so far that hasn’t happened. Tomorrow I am getting on Amtrak and going from northern California to DC; I’ll be at the AGU meeting. I’ll have more information about taking the train across the US when I get there.
I am a lifelong professional science writer with degrees in ecology and evolutionary biology from UC Berkeley and UC Davis. I was the lead author on three editions of a college textbook, and have written many articles in the life sciences, earth sciences, physics, and medical science. I’m currently covering health and climate change for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Most of my low-carbon lifestyle is admittedly enforced on me by my student budget. I have no kids, bicycle to work, and share a house with roommates. What dominates my carbon footprint is the flights I take—I’ll be hitting frequent flyer status this year thanks to traveling for conferences, talks, and workshops (not to mention those flights to see my family during the holidays—even being unmarried doesn’t get me out of visiting in-laws overseas). This is a bittersweet moment for a climate scientist—my professional success gives me an opportunity to impact the world with my science, but is hurting the planet and leaving future generations with a mess that will outlive me.
There’s no silver bullet to fixing climate change, but I think scientists and science enthusiasts can start with ourselves. My solution? Replace one flight with a train ride. Repeat every year.
Two years ago, I replaced one flight with a train ride. The next year, I did it again. Only, I ended up taking two train rides instead. This year, I started convincing other people to do it with me. It’s not always cheaper, but I’ve been finding that it’s also not always more expensive, especially if you book way in advance or super last minute.
I’m a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University studying urban climate. My thesis research looks at quantifying urban temperature variability and heat waves, but I’ve been known to dabble in projects on regional hydrology, the climate impacts of aerosols, and North African precipitation. I also run Baltimore Open Air, an urban monitoring network measuring air quality in Baltimore, Maryland.
I last flew 11 years ago and haven’t missed it. That’s because I see it not as my loss but my unborn grandchildren’s gain, like becoming vegan and trying to eliminate single-use plastic from my life. I can’t think of a better motivation. I think we should all embrace with joy the idea of treading lightly on the earth, (rather than celebrating its beauties by plane and therefore increasing the threat) and I wish the media would acknowledge the science because it’s hard to tell people without sounding sanctimonious and judgemental. But for many of us it ISN’T hard not to fly. There is much beauty to discover in my home country.
In 2017, I was sitting on a flight back from Asia, reflecting on another scientific meeting that fell far short of expectations. The costs of the trip were high, in terms of time away from my four children (7 days), cost (over $3,000), and carbon dioxide (almost 2 metric tons). At that moment, I resolved to fly less in the future. At the time, I didn’t know how much less, as it seemed quite daunting to opt out of “required” scientific meetings and honorific talks. So I started small, opting to take an overnight bus back from one meeting. The next thing I knew, I was loathe to book a meeting that would require a cross-country flight. Then I declined a major international fully-paid invited talk (I mean, who does that?) Something funny happened – the more I said “no” to flying, the more I wanted to stop flying altogether. That remains an aspiration rather than a reality, but I reduced my air travel by 75% from 2017 to 2018, and have pledged to fly fewer than 25,000 miles per year. I must fit the odd scientific meeting or invited talk, as well as family travel to my visit my husband’s family in Italy, into that modest budget. It has forced some incredibly tough choices, and some tough conversations with my colleagues and my family alike. Some understand my position, and some do not. As I settle into my new normal of flying less, I have turned my attention to advocating for more virtual and remote attendance options at scientific gatherings. It is heartening to work alongside others who share my distaste for frequent flying, as we push for institutional change. In a 2050 world, I know scientists will not be flying as much as they do — it is inconsistent with a stable climate. Now, how can we make that a reality in 2025? Let’s work together for change, and support each other along the way.
Our group’s mission is to uncover the mechanisms of global climate change, both natural and anthropogenic, in order to inform projections of future climate change. We focus primarily on the generation of new high-resolution records of past tropical Pacific climate variability from corals and cave stalagmites, with an emphasis on the last decades to centuries. Through the thoughtful combination of climate models and data, we seek to characterize natural climate variability in this region and identify climate trends that are associated with anthropogenic climate change.
I used to fly a lot. Now I am limiting my flying. I use train for all domestic travel in Sweden. The challenge is to go to e.g. Germany with senior colleagues where it is often decided (based on time constraints and price) that we are flying to a conference. Intra-EU travelling by train is not developed enough and it is not socially accepted to spend a whole day extra for travelling when there is a morning flight. Although mental preparation of presentations etc. are helped by that slightly slower train ride.
I research sustainable production, circular economy and transportation production.
Always interested in science as a young boy, I never wanted to use fossil energy because it is a non-renewable resource, and burning fossil fuels creates harmful gases. The first decision I took was not to drive a car as long as cars use combustion engines. Some compromises became necessary: For my academic career, I decided to take some intercontinental flights. I also started to use air travel for private holidays, once or twice a year. When I bought an old house, it took some years before I could replace the oil heating by an electric heat pump with geothermal probe. Flying remained the largest part of my personal carbon footprint.
In 2017, I decided to completely stop flying, both in my professional and my private life. When invited to an international conference which is not reachable by train and ferry, I offer to provide my talk via videoconferencing. If this is not accepted, I don’t participate. If we as researchers in the field of sustainability don’t start reducing our personal carbon emissions, who else will do it?
Lorenz M. Hilty is Professor of Informatics and Sustainability at the Department of Informatics at the University of Zurich (UZH) and Scientist at the Technology and Society Lab of Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. His research is focused on applications of information and communication Technologies for sustainability (ICT4S), sustainability assessment of digital technologies, methods of modeling and simulation for sustainability research, and methods of ethical decision-making and technology assessment in the context of digitalization. He is the author of more than 200 publications in the field of digital technologies and sustainability. He also serves as the sustainability delegate of UZH.
Peter Kalmus’ book Be The Change helped me realize how significant emissions are from flying. I got rid of my car, become a vegetarian, and purchase renewable gas and electricity for my home. Stopping flying is the next – and difficult – step that I am now committed to take. I have loved traveling very much in my life. But unless we step up and make sacrifices, our advocacy efforts for a fossil fuel free world ring hollow. And, as as Peter’s book outlines, there is much joy to be found in local travel!
I am a community worker who researches, writes and organizes on issues of poverty. I am interested in how we can reduce inequality and poverty while transitioning to a zero emission world.
I am flying a lot less than is expected of me from my role. It is a constant challenge to repeat myself to those in the academia who have the ability to remain blind to the facts, even after knowing the facts. My discomfort of hypocrisy is greater than my career ambitions, and so I travel less despite the pressure to travel. And I hope that it will eventually bring about positive changes within my circle of influence.
My research work spans the economics to the ecology of sustainable agriculture.
We are tempted with many interesting meetings in far-away places, and for much too long I have simply accepted the temptation without critical thinking. It is the same mechanism in which we as consumers care about sustainable development, but we do not change the consumption patterns that lock us into unsustainable development. I have now come to ask myself whether I really need that extra conference, and I have made it a habit to ask organizers of meetings whether they really think this cannot be done in a more sustainable way.
This is not much, but it has reduced my own traveling at least somewhat, and I hope other people will follow. I hope that soon we will be able to combine this with some firmer commitments by our institutions, e.g., real CO2 compensation at institutional level, and real efforts to develop and apply the means for proper “virtual” meetings.
I am an economist working on the economics of technological change and innovation. I am mostly interested in issues of economic growth and development, and international trade.
I fly, on average, once every five years. In the past, I combined academic activities with family visits. My husband Dan (University of Saskatchuwan Saskatoon), who is always way ahead of the game, made the vow to never fly again in the 1980’s.
I’m so encouraged to see that there is now a group and a site with this type of mandate.
I’m not sure what resolution is to address this “fly vacation” culture. I’ve always thought that taking the train to academic or other gatherings would be one solution. Just think of all the work you could get done locked on a train for three days. If other participants got on the same train, you could even have seminars an route.
When you think of all the aviation traffic, it’s really quite obscene, wasteful, polluting and ignorant. Who knows what long term damage we are inflicting on the atmosphere with all this frivolous and unnecessary travel.
As for my bio … semi retired, and building house in the country that I designed and we have a big vegetable garden. As for vacations, we travel by car >200 kms to hike or cross country ski, or travel locally by bike or canoe.
When I was younger and had more energy I was involved in creating a Campus Green Plan for our university loosely based on a model from UC Davis.
Over the years, I have been involved in dozens of environmental campaigns in British Columbia.
I am from a working class family with few university graduates. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend university. However, I feel we university graduates now have an obligation and duty to address and find solutions to the problems we humans have created.
I have not flown in 6 years, after returning from a Fulbright in Ethiopia. As academics, we don’t need to with skype and zoom available, or even conference calling.
Assistant Professor of Medicine. Recently published on homeless women and children in Hawassa, Ethiopia.
Now knowing and accepting that flying is THE individual activity that is most GHG emission intense the only consequence can be to fly less or not at all in the future. Climate change is a social problem. It causes war, migration, hunger, destruction of homes. I don’t want to be the cause of other people’s harm or even death and that the guilt is collective is nothing I can accept as an excuse.
I will have one last “Good Bye” flight to Fuerteventura because I promised this to my daughter in a weak moment, but after that I am sure I am strong enough to travel by train only.
I work on the psychology of denial for climate mitigation measures and on behavior change towards much more sufficiency for sustainability. I have started to work on lobbyism as a barrier for achieving climate goals.
I had my son four years ago and I’ve been working on lowering our family’s carbon footprint since. Rarely flying, if ever, is the easiest way to not contribute to climate change and forces us to be more creative in how we see the world. The planet does not exist simply for our enjoyment. Often, the best thing we can do, is to let nature persist on its own, independent of us.
I’m a climate activist and mom from southern Ontario.
I feel so much better not going to events. I found, far too often, that I would be in a place for days and only spend minutes doing what I needed to do. Yes, my career has been impacted, but I’m lucky to be at a stage where it doesn’t matter as much. We must shift the culture from one where travel and presentations define a career. I can also say I gave up my car. Buses and trains are more enjoyable!
I look at ocean related issues such as sea level rise and plastics which are resulting from human activities and over-consumption. I use GIS and spatial analysis as a method to express my work. I am also keen at looking at the impact of technology and the culture of technology within a climate framework. I teach undergraduate geography, and at graduate level I teach marine spatial planning.
I calculated my personal carbon footprint in 2009 and was ashamed at the result. I work on restoration of peatlands as part of carbon mitigation strategies, so not so good to see your own footprint dominated by flights. I got invited to a meeting to discuss the carbon impacts of peatland drainage, in Italy, the very next day! It made my choices obvious. I have not flown to any conferences since that day. Indeed, I’ve taken only two work-related flights since then (although I do fly to visit family very occasionally). My choice has limited my research exposure, but it’s been a very small price to pay.
Passionate about peat – what else is there to say?
I stopped flying in March 2016 due to the climate crisis. I also became a vegetarian. I write in several major Swedish newspapers and in August 2018 I release my first novel which I have written with my husband. It’s autobiography that is really a climate novel in disguise… It focuses on the wider ongoing sustainability crises.
Opera singer. 20years of singing title roles in the major Opera houses in Europe as well as touring major concert houses around the world, singing as soloist with most leading conductors. I regularly tour around Sweden and every summer I host my own summer concerts since 10 years which have attracted 100,000 people.
I have been talking about climate change for 15 years, and not flown on holiday for over a decade now. I do however love holidays in the UK, and also visiting different parts of Europe by train. I am a vegan (initially for the climate, then I found out about the appalling treatment of animals), drive an electric car – and give regular public talks about climate change, renewables and electric cars. Also one of the investors in climate change film ‘Age of Stupid’.
University of Reading: MSc Renewable Energy with distinction; two year research associate looking at smart charging of electric vehicles; application being processed for visiting researcher post. Smart charging thought-piece published, and co-author of paper currently under review. Complete an Exeter University FutureLearn MOOC ‘Climate change: causes and solutions’.
Four years community solar development, including 25 schools with Low Carbon Hub in Oxfordshire. Now working on EV smart charging at Crowd Charge and sister company and EV specialists DriveElectric.
Be the change you wish to see.
Inside my home continent Europe, I just don’t fly – there are excellent train and ferry connections, especially when also enjoying the journey itself. Outside Europe, I am very selective where I am going to. Perhaps, I will go to Australia in 2018. Although it would be a big adventure to travel this over land and sea, such a journey would not fit into my PhD; this will be the first time in 15 years that I fly. I will plant some trees for compensation!
More in general, I wonder if for example Virtual Reality could be a future development that will allow us to take part in scientific conferences (also in the informal interactions) without the need to travel. Let’s use our intelligence and out-of-the-box thinking to be the change we wish to see.
I am an PhD candidate in geostatistics, focusing on model based and Bayesian approaches to soil mapping and crop yield mapping.
I stopped flying in 2005 after a carbon footprint calculation showed me that all the lifestyle changes I was making to reduce my personal emissions could effectively be wiped out by taking one or two flights a year. One of the key aims of the 2016 Think Twice Boycott Campaign (eafolthinktwice.org.uk), which I co-organised, was to raise awareness of the increasing impact of aviation-induced climate breakdown to the UK literary community. While it’s been heartening to see growing objections to oil company arts sponsorship in recent years, I’d like to see the arts community taking the same ethical approach to airline sponsorship.
Jonathan Emmett has written over 60 books for children including ‘Bringing Down the Moon’, ‘Someone Bigger’ and ‘The Princess and the Pig’. His work has been translated into over 30 different languages and has won several awards.
I have always been extremely conscious of my carbon footprint. When I taught in university about 25 years ago, I used to have to commute by plane to live with my wife – it was insane. Since my retirement I have cut down on travel radically – rarely leaving the Comox Valley, British Columbia, where I live and do do my research. Now that conferences can be organized and attended by web-video I have no longer any motivation to use transportation. Have not taken a plane or even a train for the past 4 years.
Currently, I study alpine and subalpine climate change indicators in BC’s oldest and biggest provincial park, Strathcona Park. I monitor plant composition and bat population changes.
I’m a science teacher in Brussels (16-18 year olds physics, chemistry, math) and, as all teachers should, I try to lead by example. Part of that is having an extremely low-carbon lifestyle. Not flying is one of the many things I do to achieve that goal.
I bike everywhere, literally. I rarely even use trains. I don’t use any hot water, don’t eat any dairy, don’t use any direct fossil fuels. I rarely buy anything new (especially electronics). I honestly think I’m part of all the local green political parties and most of the green initiatives in town, especially the ones working towards local food security. I share a well isolated house and never turn on the heating. I’m living in Brussels with an ecological footprint close to a Nigerian farmer. I live a healthy and happy life that way. For now that is: since I see barely anyone following my example, since I’m being ridiculed everyday, since I barely survive traffic here, etc…
I hope this testimony, and this platform in general, helps. If that’s a naive approach I at least proved that it’s possible to live sustainable in the modern area, however tragic that may be.
I’ve been struggling with the tension between academia and flying for a long time. The vast majority of my holidays I’ve done by train and the occasional boat – for example the train from London to southern Germany is a lovely ride, as is London to Edinburgh or Glasgow. But in academia the big issue is **conferences** and **invited seminars** – much of the time you don’t get to choose where they are, and much of the time there are specific conferences that you “must” be publishing at, or your students “must” be at for their career, or you’re invited to give a talk.
What can you do? Well, you can’t give up. So here’s what I’ve done, for the past five years at least:
* I’ve declined various opportunities to fly. Sometimes this hurts. In general, though, you usually find there are similar opportunities nearer by. You’ll probably meet most of the people in one of those events anyway. In the big picture, it’s probably better for academia to be structured as an overlapping patchwork network, rather than having single-point-of-groupthink.
* I’ve taken the train to many conferences and meetings. From the UK I’ve taken the train to France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and I’m happy to go further. If you haven’t done long train journeys for work then maybe you don’t realise: with a laptop, **many long-distance train journeys are ideal peaceful office days**, with a reserved seat and beautiful views scrolling past. If your concern is making time for the journey, don’t worry!
* When invited to fly somewhere, I always discuss lower-carbon ways of doing it. If flying is the only way and I’m tempted to accept the invitation, I ask the inviters to pay for carbon offsetting too.
(Many university administrations don’t want to pay for carbon offsets – why? This needs to change.)
* If traveling somewhere (even by train), always try to make the most of the journey by finding other opportunities while out there – e.g. a new research group to say hello to, a company or NGO. It’s good to make face-to-face contact because that makes it much easier to do remote collaboration or coordination at other times (with the same people, I mean), reducing the need for extra trips.
There’s a cost implication which I haven’t mentioned: flights are unfortunately often cheaper than trains and stopovers. This needs to change, of course – and can be a bit tricky when you’re invited to speak somewhere and the cost ends up more than the organisers expected. However, I’ve been managing a funded research project for the past five years and I’ve noticed that in fact I’ve **spent much less money** on travel than I had projected. Why? Well back when I wrote the budget I costed for international flights and so on. But my adapted approach to travel means I take fewer big long-distance trips, but I get more out of them because I combine things into one trip, and I’ve skipped certain distant meetings in favour of ones closer to home – all of which means the cost is less than it would have been.
**None of these are absolute rules.** We can’t carry all the burden solo, and we have to make compromises between different priorities. But if we all make some changes we can adapt academia to current realities. We can do this together.
I am a senior researcher in machine listening – which means using computation to understand sound signals. I co-lead the Machine Listening Lab at Queen Mary University of London, based in the Centre for Digital Music, and am also a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. I have worked on voice, music and environmental soundscapes, and am now currently leading a five-year fellowship project researching the automatic analysis of bird sounds.
Having realized the seriousness and urgency of the climate challenge, I find that flying now causes me cognitive dissonance verging almost into nausea and physical illness. I do still fly; but a lot less than I used to. And not at all in my academic work.
I’m an academi engineer, currently working on deep decarbonisation of energy systems, with a particular focus on potential for CO2 removal and achieving nett negative CO2 emissions.
I haven’t flown since 2007. For me, this is an experiment in making a choice to set a limit on my carbon emissions. I’m self-employed, and my partner doesn’t want to fly, so it’s been a relatively easy ride. I have turned down work which I can’t easily get to by surface transport. Our kids didn’t fly until they were old enough to travel without us. This made them stand out a bit from some of their peers, but not all: a lot of people round here don’t go abroad for holidays. We will fly next year, to visit our daughter when she has a year in Japan as part of her degree. It feels like an old-fashioned “once in a lifetime” trip! I have blogged about my choice here http://www.penny-walker.co.uk/blog/2010/09/making-my-work-a-no-fly-zone
Facilitator, coach, trainer and consultant working mainly in sustainable development. Based in London, UK. Clients include public sector, academic institutions, private sector, NGOs and community groups. Multi-stakeholder dialogue, collaboration, organisational change.
I stopped flying last year and try to reduce my footprint as much as possible. I think that the academic world still has a huge responsibility to speak up, show the facts, be part of the discussion of how we can change society.
I am currently writing my dissertation about government communication.
My thesis was on Climate Change Policy in Local Authorities in the UK, started in 1997 – it was at a fairly early stage in the existence of the discourse of ‘climate change’ as a global policy issue. My research ever since has been on energy-related policy, including transport, renewable energy (and nuclear), buildings, and CCS, focusing on the social aspects and also public engagement. In the 20 years since, I have only flown three times to international conferences – to Sweden, Denmark, and once to Washington DC. The lack of ferries to Scandinavia since cheap flights began is a real impediment to having a flight-free career with European links. The Icelandic volcano Eyafjallajokul erupted when I was in Washington: clearly the Goddess expressing her displeasure. I have managed to get to Barcelona in less than 24 hours by Eurostar. We cannot continue to fly and advocate tackling climate change with our work. This means passing on much work and opportunities.
PhD in Climate Change Policy in UK Local Authorities, research since 1991 on
The following personal account is an excerpt from a blog post on “Why I quit flying”.
A jetsetter lifestyle can be exhilarating, I know from experience. Working as a researcher at a British University, I flew frequently to conferences and to visit my family and friends on the continent. I grew up as part of a generation that experienced flying as a cheap way of transport, where flights often cost less than bus tickets. When I wanted to visit my friends abroad all what mattered was whether or not I could afford to go. With dropping flight fairs that was often the case. Only much later did I start worrying about the ecological baggage of my decisions.
I deeply care about the planet, not only as humanities only life-support vessel, but also beyond that. For years I had a bad conscience about being an environmental scientist and still making use of the ecologically worst means of transport that there is, namely flying. I told myself, that everyone was doing it and that globally it would make absolutely no difference, if I quit flying or not. Also, what other way of moving around was there really?
Today, I agree with activist Nimue Brown, when she says:
“If your life doesn’t express your values, then your values appear pretty hollow to anyone looking. […] Don’t ask other people to make lifestyle changes you haven’t made yourself.”
I want to take responsibility for my actions and that includes my way of travelling. It does not make any sense to advocate for a socio-ecological transformation of western consumerist society and then live as unsustainable as everyone else. Changes won’t happen by wishful thinking and I do think that individual sacrifices will be necessary to turn the tide. It won’t be enough and should come with political pressure, but it is a good starting point.
We need a different way of thinking when it comes to taking responsibility for our actions. Maybe we should start discussing how it is possible that we can live fulfilled lives without travelling to the other end of the world.
I quit flying in 2014 and haven’t boarded a plane ever since. I very much enjoy the comfort and tranquillity of train rides and rather skip a trip than travel 1000 km or more for a two-day meeting.
I graduated as a Marine Biologist and have a PhD in Ecological Economics. My interdisciplinary research, at the University of Aberdeen, was looking into the value(s) that people hold for nature conservation and marine protected areas in particular.
Nowadays I work as sustainability trainer, independent researcher, workshop facilitator, event moderator and environmental activist. With ATTAC Berlin I work on a wide spectrum of Degrowth topics, including climate change and climate justice.
My main concern with the issue of flying as an academic is hypocrisy. Most of the projects that I’ve worked on (as a social scientist) have the intention of making the world a better place, or at least mitigating its problems. As I social scientist I spend my time working out how we can change the behaviour of various groups of people. We are highly educated and probably know more than average about environmental issues and other issues of today. And yet, despite being those trying to designing solutions for other people to change their behaviour, and despite being well informed on the earth’s problems, I imagine we fly a lot more than the average citizen. This is hypocrisy. My line manager is sympathetic to my point of view, and my hope is that I will be able to negotiate a career with minimal flying.
PhD was on the psychological benefits of walking in cities and the effects of motor traffic on pedestrian experience.
As an early career researcher I have worked on projects around Green Infrastructure, on demand bus services, the health and happiness of older people and how this can be affected by neighbourhood factors.
The cost of flying is artificially low and governments are evidently extremely reluctant to tackle the problem through taxation. Therefore, it is down to individuals to address. Although I occasionally fly, if I need to attend a conference or meeting in Europe I go by train.
A mechanical engineer by training, working on the design and evaluation of novel technologies to assist human movement.
After attending a talk by Professor Kevin Anderson I was inspired to avoid flying as much as practical. I attend very few meetings outside Europe (Boston in 2014 was the last one) and travel by train in Europe. Using Eurostar and changing in Paris works well. For example, I travelled from Reading to Barcelona in December 2017 and have caught a boat from Harwich to the Netherlands for a meeting. The exceptions are when balancing academic and family commitments. I chose to fly to Toulouse in 2015 for what I considered an important project meeting that fell within a busy period of lecturing although I have successfully travelled here by train on another occasion using the sleeper service from Paris. I have also undertaken occasional short haul holidays, finding it difficult to inflict my decision to avoid flying on my family.
My aim to avoid flying has recently caused me a dilemma. I was recently nominated as a lead author for a forthcoming chapter of the next IPCC assessment report. This is an exciting opportunity but one that commits me to at least two long haul journeys. I have taken the decision to accept this responsibility, which I consider sufficiently important to blemish my record. However, I fully intend to continue using ground-based transport for all other meetings. It is possible to work efficiently on long train journeys and although career opportunities and family commitments may sometimes be compromised, I consider brighter young scientists more worthy of choosing to flying on occasion to build up their networks and strengthen their contribution to science.
Climate Scientist interested in Earth’s energy budget and water cycle
I stopped flying in 2004 as part of a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions – I was/am already veggie and had already decided not to have children, so it was the next thing to do. I didn’t fly that much, although earlier in my life I did, doing overseas development in sub Saharan Africa and Asia.
I know it’s a drop in the (vast) ocean in the great scheme of things, but not flying has had an important impact in many ways. It has made me realise the strength of the consumer conditioning – brainwashing? – I grew up with in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s – ‘if you’ve got the money, you can buy the flight’ type thinking, with no regard for the consequences. I was embarrassed to see how much of a consumer mindset I had in the early days of not flying – so, useful reflections.
Not flying has given me an appreciation for travel nearer to home, as well as enjoying longer distance train travel. It’s strengthened my imagination in that way, somehow, and led to adventures I mightn’t have had flying!
Not flying has strengthened my love of the planet and other than human and more than human life. Maybe that’s because I reflect more and more on our individual and collective actions in not harming – hopefully, benefiting, in fact – the biosphere. Maybe I’m more aware of the damage we’re doing and the fragility of life on earth.
Exploring our reproductive choices and intentional childlessness has been an important part of my research in the past 20 years. I wrote ‘Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind’ which was published by Earth Books in 2016. I also write and give talks and run ecopsychology workshops and trainings.
I’ve been flying less for about 15 years. It’s not been hard career wise since my job rarely requires international travel, but as a keen climber and mountaineer it’s tough to realign your ambitions to closer mountains.
I design Passivhaus standard buildings (the gold standard in low-energy building design) in the Highlands of Scotland. I also teach building energy modelling for the University of Highlands and Islands.
I am an Australian and the only OS flights I have done in the last thirty years are three flights to New Zealand. I have carer responsibilities in Sydney so do fly from the Gold Coast, where I work, to Sydney and back when required. For three years I did this journey by train or car and didn’t fly at all. There are workplaces challenges in not flying overseas as the requisite networking is much harder. I don’t think my personal practices do shift the culture at all, but it makes me feel a lot better to act out my beliefs as opposed to just writing about them.
I undertake research in the areas of environmental law, climate change law and wild law. I am currently writing a book about narratives of climate change and was the founder and co-organiser of a narratives of climate change symposium in July 2018. I founded and co-led the Wild Law Judgment project from 2014 to 2017. I presented a paper on the subtle and not so subtle advantages in not flying for three years at a Wild Law conference in 2010.
I love to travel, wanderlust has pumped in my veins for decades but whilst abroad I encountered environmental devastation on such a vast scale that it left a profound question in my being: Why can’t I be content with the exploring the worlds and realities within my local vicinity?
Since then I’ve explored and learnt to fall into back into love and intimate relationship with the communities immediately around me. I’ve flown twice since 2008 and constantly seek new ways to traverse my world without the luxury of flying.
Overall, I think slower travel has enriched my life more than it has hindered my scientific career. Whenever I chat with colleagues about my decision to not fly anymore – except for essential fieldwork data collection – they always seem very intrigued by the idea. I sometimes even get the impression, that people see me as a more authentic climate scientist for that reason. However, I find it hard to observe, that some very bright academics, despite knowing the consequences, still choose high-emission travel for often very egocentric reasons.
Undergraduate degree in Meteorology and Geophysics at the University of Vienna (Austria), then 3yrs weather forecasting for RedBull. Now a PhD student at the University of Bristol, looking at the role of clouds in Greenland Ice Sheet melt. Soon to be a PostDoc in Belgium, continuing to work on Greenland climate research.
I am a huge proponent of human-powered transit, and pretty much any form of transportation other than flying. To this end, as much as possible I carpool, take public transit, ride my bicycle, or take the train to conferences and other academic obligations. For example, in 2014 I rode my bicycle 100 miles from College Station to Austin, Texas to attend the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. In 2017, I have taken the train from Berkeley, CA to Denver, CO for the annual Entomological Society of America meeting. Taking the train also meant I could bring along my bicycle, which was great! These efforts still seem to be very far from the norm in my academic circles, but I hope to lead change by example.
I study metabolic and nutritional physiology in insects, and work primarily with wing-dimorphic crickets and leafcutter ants. I am broadly interested in how changing environmental conditions such as increased nitrogen deposition and atmospheric carbon dioxide impact food nutrient quality, and how this in turn impacts organismal physiology and fitness.
I am a visiting professor and playwright who works internationally. I co-founded the International Climate Change Theatre Action, involving 50 playwrights, 200 venues and 12,000 audience members worldwide. My short play was performed in Paris, New York, Vancouver, Abu Dhabi, Chicago, etc. and for Al Gore. I work at Quest University Canada (where I read Be the Change while preparing to teach Climate Change Theatre), Pomona College (where I wrote an environmental play on a Mellon Foundation commission), and Western Washington University. I didn’t fly for one year, and I’ve cut down my flying about 80% over the past five years. To be honest, I find not flying a challenge to my career. I’m trying to work more locally. I like the feeling of being more responsible to future generations. I’m now ready to be more open about my commitment to not flying, which I have not shared with my colleagues. I plan to take the train as much as possible/for part of the way to make that commitment. I love taking the train/slow travel. Let’s pressure the airline industry to come up with alternatives.
Recent artistic and academic appointments:
Playwright in Residence/Visiting Professor at Pomona College, Quest University, and Western Washington University, an Associate at Vancouver’s Playwrights Theatre Centre,
Robert Hartung Endowed Chair of Dramatic Writing, Head of MFA Program, University of New Mexico; on faculty at Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon. Selected Guest Teaching Keynotes/Lectures: Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, Arts Club Theatre, Chan Centre, Playwrights Guild of Canada, Nanjing Normal University, Lincoln Centre Director’s Project West, University of Panama, University of Tasmania.
I am a meteorologist and a general manager of an engineering company for planning wind farms. I am also a paraglider. But most of all I love the atmosphere, its solar and wind energy, its changing weather patterns, the thermal lifts which drive the paragliders and allow them to fly over hundred of kilometers without engine and CO2 Emission. This atmosphere shall be conserved. Fossil flying in these modern tin cans is not worth to destroy it.
I have studied meteorology until 1996. From 1996 until 2000 I worked for the Austrian Meteorological Service. Since 1999 I have my own company for planning wind farms.
With my area of research being related to sustainable development, I’ve decided that the world is far better off if I do online presentations. Flying is one of the most affluent and most unnecessary behaviours of the rich. It’s amazing to me that it’s still so unscrutinized by many who are concerned about climate change.
Alex Baumann’s research is in the area of exploring pre-market or ‘Commons’ approaches to public resident participation; where public land provides the foundation for non-commercial local cooperation and productivity. This approach recognizes that ‘alternative participation spaces’ are critical, as people increasingly find themselves alienated by an ever more competitive and unsustainable market system.
People visiting this site will typically be like me; privileged high consuming individuals, living in relatively stable parts of the world and having benefitted from years of costly education. We are in the fortunate position to have the information, opportunity and wherewithal to sit back and think about the world in which we live and our role within in it. Moreover, because of the hierarchical structures of our societies and the trusted position academia still occupies, many people listen to what we have to say – inevitably weighing up our conclusions against how they see us and our institutions behaving. In the messy reality of life, the veracity and credibility of our research are intimately entwined, imposing a significant personal burden on those of us working on climate change.
In the late 1990s I became interested in aviation’s exemption from the Kyoto Protocol and its hallowed status within national politics. It was abundantly clear that here was a sector set to become an increasingly large thorn in the side of any meaningful mitigation. The demand for aviation was skyrocketing yet no technical solution was insight within a 2°C timeframe. The aviation industry and governments were in a cosy relationship, subsidies were and remain rife, and the policy agenda was very much “promote and provide”.
I’d moved away from working in the oil industry to try and make a difference – and here I was faced with an early opportunity to put my research into uncomfortable action. Not only did the science and numbers put a growing aviation industry far beyond the 2°C pale, but I also reluctantly recognised the credibility of my conclusions depended, in part, on my acting in accordance with them. Either I treated my research as a pleasant way of paying the bills or I grasped the bull by the horns and added credibility to my conclusions by giving up flying. That was back in 2004, since then the climate and aviation situation has gone from bad to worse – a lot worse.
So here we are in 2017. Virtually no 2°C carbon budget remains and despite almost three decades of empty rhetoric we’ve now upped the ante to 1.5°C. Meanwhile virtually every nation is seeking to expand its airport capacity to facilitate yet more flying by its wealthier citizens, climate scientists and ‘environmentalists’ (though of course we point the finger of blame at ‘humbler’ families taking occasional holidays to Benidorm.).
Set against this “cake and eat it” scam, there is a growing constituency of ex-fliers and less-fliers demonstrating through their research and action that genuine alternatives exist. We don’t have to lie to our children – we can care for their future at the same time as having satisfying lives and successful careers. Certainly this is not without its challenges, but as more academics and others seek substitutes for flying so these challenges morph into a new norm. If we are to make a difference in the politically charged terrain of climate change, diligent and meticulous research is not enough. Credibility is paramount and resides in the integrity of the relationship between the researcher and their research.
The brutal logic of carbon budgets
To meet the Paris 1.5 and 2°C commitments we must hold emissions within a range of carbon budgets. Regardless of the nuances in the science, the remaining budgets are very small and rapidly dwindling.
Within a highly constrained budget, when we decide to fly someone else has to reduce their emissions to compensate for ours. Given that the wealthy in society are the principal drivers of increased aviation, it is poorer communities who are essentially forced to pay this compensation.
Repeated research has demonstrated that increasing energy use by such communities significantly improves their quality of life. In the very near term, this energy will include fossil fuels – and hence a rise in their emissions.
Similarly, research demonstrates no discernable increase in the quality of life of wealthy high-energy users consuming yet more energy. Consequently, and given the whisper of carbon budget remaining for even 2°C, when we decide to fly to another essential climate change conference, undertake fieldwork or visit family, we are telling poorer communities to cut back on the energy they use to provide basic needs. Carbon budgets are brutal in that they reveal the callousness of our actions and no amount of eloquent squirming can mitigate the significant and growing impact of our frequent flights.
Kevin is a Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester and currently holds a two-year fellowship in Climate Change Leadership at Uppsala University. He is also deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. His current research focuses on understanding the implications of the Paris Agreement for mitigation rates and strategies at different geographical and sectoral scales. Prior to his academic career Kevin had an industrial background as a marine engineer and later as a design engineer in the oil and gas industry.
I gave up flying about ten years ago as well as most long distance travel. I have taken Candide’s plan to “build our house, chop our wood and make our garden grow.”
I worked in the theatre for 40 years after college and the Peace Corps. I installed my first solar in 1982 and now have close to a net zero home.
I value slow travel and find that not flying is less of a problem than those who are always stressed to arrive fast. As a Brit living in Vienna, it takes me about 22 hours to get back to London by bus, but I enjoy watching the accents and languages change, the scenery and weather slowly improving or getting worse, depending on the direction of travel, and going into the centre of each city on the way, to get a deeper impression.
I find that people’s reaction to me not flying for the last 13 years is something between shock and awe. It gives you an instant moral superiority at parties, and leads to lots of interesting conversations. I have a 6 year-old son, and we turn the coach journeys into adventures, telling stories about what we see out the window, eating the local food in each town, and chatting to other people on the trip and singing with them.
Few people love airports or flying – where you are basically treated like a child, with little control – but most people enjoy train journeys. I work on the longer train journeys, with good wifi signal and plenty of time to read books, not worrying about luggage allowances.
Air fares need to rise fast, to reflect the true cost of such extravagance on future generations. And of course, not flying is only part of the story – it’s also less meat, no cars and less consumption.
Having already been an advocate and practitioner of flying less, I have now become a complete “terrestrian”, both in my personal life and my professional life. This is not just because I recognize the complete unsustainability of flying, but also because I savor the real pleasure of passing through so many places and landscapes on the way to my destination.
My research focuses on community-based initiatives that promote sustainable lifestyles. I worked on TESS, an EU FP7 project comparing such initiatives across Europe. I am now working on an evaluation of the Scottish Government’s “Climate Challenge Fund”, which funds community climate action.
Almost all of my flying is to deliver invited lectures at academic institutions. While I have certainly enjoyed the opportunity to see the world at others’ expense, I have grown increasingly reluctant to travel by air. Of late I have begun providing lectures over the Internet rather than delivering them in person — but these are not as effective.
My degree is a master of science in physics, but my reputation comes from my work in computer game design and interactive storytelling. I was one of the first generation of game designers and made many contributions to the field. My work on interactive storytelling is still well ahead of other stuff — so far!
I flew over 5500 miles to Milan to present a paper to an audience of three people. I had seen most of the people at a conference in the US two months prior. It was at that point I wondered not only about the purpose of conferences, but how my choices had a negative effect on both the planet and my psyche. Flying less is a win for both of those.
I study persuasive environmental communication, among other things.
I haven’t flown for a holiday since 2009, and have taken four short-haul return flights for academic conferences in the past decade, plus two longhaul flights to India to run training events and develop stroke services and research there. I am resolved to never fly again for leisure. Any pleasure I might gain from doing so would be far outweighed by the harm I am doing by hastening climate breakdown. I’m exploring the practicalities of making European conference trips by train in future, though justifying the extra expense to the university remains a challenge.
Four years ago I also switched my regular lengthy car commute to bike and train instead, which I estimate saves 3.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
I’m a nurse and health researcher, with interests in stroke, cardiovascular prevention, and health inequalities.
I have come to this realisation about the damage that aviation is doing, and my own part in it, very recently. I am a Canadian who lives in the UK with family in British Columbia. I am not yet able to completely give up flying for that reason but can start by giving up international conferences and lobbying my colleagues to do the same.
I am a writer (three books, mostly about the history of women in conflict situations) and academic. I run a Masters programme in non-fiction writing and have had a long career as a journalist. I would like to alert people to the need to give up flying by exposing how we’ve been seduced by the aviation/travel industry. I would like to expose its dark side and its real cost.
In 2016 about 60% of total greenhouse gas emissions at ETH Zürich came from flights. As an environmental science student I was lobbying with many others for reductions of these flight emissions. Then my girlfriend Giulia and I were invited to a wedding in Sydney, Australia. She was chosen to be the maid of honor for the bride, one of our best friends. From the very start it was clear that we could not board this plain and act so decisively against what both of us are fighting for. So we thought, there has to be another way. And there was one. We planned for about six months and started a journey we would not have believed we would ever do in our lives. After around 200 hours in a train and 15 days on a cargo ship we arrived in Sydney. We emitted about 350 kg of CO2 compared to the 5,2 tonnes of a flight (calculation is here). And above all it was a wonderful time – slow, intensive, with a good book and exciting discussions. Of course, we are in a privileged position: we have the time and the resources. But we made this journey to make a point: we have to curb carbon emissions today, not tomorrow. We have to align our values with our actions and stop flying. We need to inspire others to follow and to lead by example. Overall, however, we need a systemic change within our economy and society; a transformation, that puts people and nature before profit. All we can do is to do all we can and to push as hard as possible for a good life for all. Climate catastrophe won’t wait for us.
I am a student of environmental sciences at ETH Zürich and a Co-Founder of the Swiss Sustainability Week (www.sustainabilityweek.ch).
I’ve not completely forsaken flying, but I’ve reduced it considerably. An analysis of my air travel for work concluded that I was flying much less than most while being one of the most productive scientists in my division. Since retiring six months ago I did fly to Spain (my wife loves foreign travel, which will be hard to give up), but have taken the train up and down the West Coast and will be taking the train to AGU and back (with my wife) this year.
Steven Ghan was a climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from 1990 to 2018 and PNNL Lab Fellow since 2011, following five years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and receiving his bachelors degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 1979 and his doctorate in Meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in representing aerosol particles and their affects on clouds and climate in global climate models. He has authored more than 180 publications in scientific journals, is cited in the top 1% of all earth scientists, and served as an editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres from 2007 to 2016 and as Editor-in-Chief from 2012 to 2016. He has contributed to three climate change assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2008 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the assessments. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He leads the Tri-Cities Washington Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.
I have given up air travel completely. I made the decision in June 2015 as I was flying home (to Ottawa, Canada) from a workshop in Spain. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years though. I am very disturbed that climate change is literally wrecking the biosphere, and putting millions of peoples’ lives at risk. I found I was becoming increasingly unable to justify the huge carbon emissions associated with flying. I decided the benefit to me was not worth the cost to the climate.
I think we are quite lucky that just when we need to stop flying, the technology for remote meetings and conferences has really taken off, so to speak. I have given several presentations using videoconferencing, even keynote conference presentations. Of course I miss the social aspect of meetings and workshops but I don’t feel I can use that to justify the carbon emissions of a flight. And in any case I’m not missing out on meetings altogether. I have been attending meetings within rail or bus distance, and during my next sabbatical I intend to take a freighter ship to Europe and spend some time catching up with colleagues.
I am a Professor of Biology, and co-Director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory, at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I study the responses of wildlife, including plants, arthropods, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, to human-altered landscapes. My research combines simulation modelling with field data to evaluate the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, road density, and the configuration of farmlands and cities, on species distribution, abundance and diversity. I have co-authored over 200 publications, with over 33,000 citations. I was awarded the US-IALE’s Distinguished Landscape Ecologist award, and I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
It is challenging and sometime convenient. Improving the rail network in Europe (such as the new rapid train connection between Munich and Berlin) can help to make not-flying more attractive
I currently work at the Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology; Pettenkofer School of Public Health, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. I do research in Public Health, with a focus on nutrition and physical related NCDs, public health decision making and knowledge-translation & exchange. The current project is the development and further advancement of the WHO-INTEGRATE EtD Framework.
I have seen how bad carbon forestry (as climate mitigation) works on the ground in Africa. How poor pastoralists loose their livelihoods and wildfire risk increases when traditional grazing and burning is excluded. Even though conserving the last remnants of old-growth forests is necessary. The carbon focus and the anticipated large funds for this corrupts conservation. And I saw my own carbon budget, after omitting almost everything, except work flights.
Fire ecology, interactions between livestock and fire regimes, especially in semi-natural wooded pastures in Africa. Relations between nature and traditional land use in subalpine heathlands and forests and wooded savannas in Ethiopia.
You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions. –Sven Lindqvist (“Exterminate all the brutes”: One man’s odyssey into the heart of darkness and the origins of European genocide. New York: The New Press, 1997: 2)
After learning of aviation’s considerable contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change (largely from the writings of George Monbiot), it took me a few years before I was able to kick the flying habit. I was too enamored with the types of long-distance conference-going and lecture-giving that only flying allows for, and the benefits that they afforded (e.g., visits with friends, trips to places that I enjoyed or had never experienced, a sense of self-importance tied to my airborne mobility) to give it up immediately. In the face of intensifying climate change, the disconnect between what I knew was right and the way I lived–and its implications for climate change and environmental justice–became too palpable for me to continue my jet-setting ways.
The last time I stepped on a plane was in 2007. Since that time, my appreciation for slowing down–not least in terms of how often and the means by which I travel–has only grown. While the decision to forego flying has changed how (and where to a certain extent) I do my research, it has also opened up new areas of interest, forcing (or allowing) me to see more than I previously did the value of engaging what’s nearby. It has also productively pushed me to find new ways of connecting with people and places who are physically distant from where I live and work. Perhaps most importantly, it has facilitated my spending more time with family and friends, and areas close to home.
Joseph Nevins is a geographer at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. His research interests include socioterritorial boundaries and mobility, violence and inequality, and political ecology. Along with Suren Moodliar and Eleni Macrakis, he is currently working on A People’s Guide to Greater Boston (scheduled to be published in 2019 by the University of California Press).
I am a scholar in Rhetoric, at the moment doing a research project on how citizens justify their climate non-action. This of course makes me unable to justify my own flying. In a pilot survey the most frequent situation where the informant report they acted against their own knowledge has to do with flying. The most common way of justifying it was by an idea of an environmental account. A simple example could be the person who bikes to work, meticulously recycles her waste and confesses to sustainable ideals, but goes on long journeys to Asia, and then legitimizes the journey with his biking and recycling. Climate friendly action is seen as “savings” and climate sins as “withdrawals”. The currency is on one side sacrifice and on the other satisfaction. An alternative currency could have been GHG emissions, but that would have cracked the logic, since it would take several years to recycle equivalent to the desired journey. My idea is that such legitimation structures, which we call topoi within Rhetoric, need to be understood, made visible and problematized. They also need to be addressed in climate development work.
My research is in rhetorical argumentation theory and more specifically the aristotelian teaching of topoi. The last year I have focused on how higher education can support the development of critical self-reflection in multifaceted and value-laden issues such as climate development.
To start, I still do have to fly occasionally for work, across the Mediterranean or overseas, but I reduce this to what I think is the bare minimum. In Europe, I go long ways to replace air by train travel, in order to reduce emissions, but honestly also because I enjoy this a lot. I keep saying that I read and work a lot, but I actually look out through the window most of the time. Currently I am engaged in fighting for regional train survival (in France), not in order to #flyless but to keep all options to avoid cars and buses. I think Europe should outlaw between-hub flights such as Amsterdam-Paris or Frankfurt-Munich. I never fly Marseille-Paris. The challenges? To persuade others to do the same, and to overcome the difficulties of ticketing with rail travel, particularly on international lines.
I am a plant ecologist and geographer, with a PhD on Baltic vegetation, 20 years of work at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. I spend a lot of time for the IPCC and now have the mission to produce with many colleagues a pan-Mediterranean assessment (MedECC) of risks associated environmental change. I work for CNRS at the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology in Aix-en-Provence.
I have not traveled beyond Europe for conferences since 2014. Within Europe, I try to travel by train, and group scientific communication trips together to visit several events & institutions while on one trip. This has been made easier by interrail tickets allowing for longer & more flexible trips.
I make exceptions for personal travel (I have elderly & ill parents a 2 hour flight away).
I have been surprised at the level of understanding and support (higher travel costs by rail have to be reimbursed) offered to me in this effort of flying less, and also by the gratitude of often younger colleagues, who welcome someone who “walks the walk”.
I research the resource requirements of economic activity and well-being.
I stopped flying 6 years ago. Previously I have also previously tried to reduce flying, both privately and during job. During my years as the head of Centre for international Health, University of Bergen I tried to limit international flights to around twice a year.
Gunnar Kvåle is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care.
I don’t suffer cognitive dissonance, because I practice what I preach: I fly as little as possible
I use the best available climate friendly alternative: sustainable electric transport.
I use electric public transport as the most sustainable alternative for intra-European traveling.
Because in Holland, all trains and tubes are powered by 100% sustainable electricity from our own Dutch windmills. Traveling by train, tram and metro takes less mobility space than traveling by electric car, so I don’t contribute to traffic congestion (with all its polluting and harmful emissions).
In this way I also save scarce resources, prevent waste, emissions and climate change that is caused by the production of cars.
I influence my local, national and regional governments by sending emails to aviation spokesmen in parliaments about the climate impact of aviation and the uselessness of the ICAO and IATA CORSIA offsetting approach.
I gave up flying ten years ago because of the impact on the climate. I could no longer rationalize such a contribution to GHG emissions and the demise of our climate. I acknowledge that there might be occasions when flying long distances will be justifiable in terms of making some tangible improvement to people’s lives or the planet’s well-being.
I’m an ethnomusicologist who researches on cultural, particularly musical, endangerment. Climate change is threatening the future of many cultural practices around the world. I’m aware of the irony that I fly to undertake fieldwork on this issue, while contributing to the very problem that my research seeks to understand and ultimately help mitigate. I’ve made an initial commitment to reduce my academic flying by half over the 3-year period to 2019, compared with the 3-year period to 2016. My personal statement on my academic flying intentions is available online (see link below). I believe we can do more to effect change as an academic community than as concerned individuals.
I was privileged to receive the 2015 Australian Future Justice medal for my research, advocacy and activism on cultural sustainability. My book “Music Endangerment” was published by OUP in 2014. I have a growing interest in, and concern for, the intersections between cultural sustainability and social justice, including climate justice.
I started my experiment not to fly anymore after the Paris climate conference in late 2015. Some thoughts that were important for my decision to experiment with no-flying:
Credibility: As environmental scientists we can’t call upon the world to stop all CO2 emissions within the coming few decades while we ourselves don’t change our habits. Maintaining credibility of scientific facts, academia, and experts has become a key challenge of the sciences in our time.
Innovation: Inventing flying was an innovation, and inventing non-flying will be as well. Innovation happens only if we try, experiment, and learn by doing.
Opportunity costs: There is a belief in our society that we can have everything together – we can fly as much as we like and have simultaneously all the benefits of non-flying. But there are opportunity costs. My experience is that non-flying brings lots of benefits: more time, learning how to collaborate effectively through virtual means, collaborations at home with other disciplines and practitioners etc. These benefits would be much greater if we would together fly less; it is for instance amazing how poorly developed virtual communication technologies at universities are given that the same universities talk continuously about living in a novel age of the internet, artificial intelligence, and big data.
Reflecting upon the kind of science that is needed nowadays: As an ecologist I have the choice between flying to conference rooms where I discuss how to better analyse more data that shows ever more dramatically how badly affected our ecosystems are, or I can work together with social scientists, artists, urban planers, and practitioners at home to innovate carbon-free cities. Flying affects how we do science.
I wrote two blogs that discuss my experiences with non-flying, here and here.
Christoph’s research focuses on the ecology of the Anthropocene such as climate change impacts on mountain ecosystems or restoring green infrastructure and biodiversity in cities.
I had been working and studying in Uppsala, Sweden, away from my native Newcastle, England, for 18 months. Time had come to pay a visit back to the homeland, but a flight? A flight within Europe? Surely there was a better way.
Research into alternatives ensued and I found that not only was travel over land/sea vastly more inconvenient – it was more than double the price of hopping on a plane. Nevertheless, if we want to demonstrate leadership on climate change we have to display a vote of no confidence in the ever-expanding aviation industry. So, my girlfriend and I embraced the inconvenience and set about our slow travel expedition. A combination of trains, ferries, buses and a heavy amount of walking took us through the streets of Copenhagen, Amsterdam and watching the sunrise over Tynemouth Harbour in the UK as our ferry glided into bay. A 3-day journey that was a mini-adventure across Western Europe and much more rewarding than a high-emitting whizz through the air.
Throughout our research into the best route possible, it became apparent that an efficient train network simply doesn’t exist for extensive journeys. A train from Copenhagen to Amsterdam included at least 4 changes, 3 of which were in the middle of the night and had layovers that ranged from 4 minutes to 4 hours, ending up being the same amount of time as an arduous Flixbus journey that was a fraction of the train ticket prices.
It is clear that alternatives to flying do exist but it requires extensive research, time and financial capital in order to pursue them. The false economy of subsidies and tax breaks props up the aviation industry as our transport/tourism infrastructure caters to their every whim while simultaneously ripping the heart out of the other forms of transport that charge heavily for convoluted trips spanning many borders.
My research focuses on the legitimacy of the use of BECCS in RCP2.6 of the Paris Accord, with particular reference to the disconnection between climate modelling and practical climate policy implementation.
On account of the associated carbon emissions, I haven’t flown long-haul for work purposes since 2006; I haven’t flown long-haul for personal reasons since 1989. I haven’t flown short-haul for about 5 years, and have no intention of doing so unless absolutely unavoidable.
In my work, I am Director of the Cube Project, in which I design and build eco-friendly microhomes (www.cubeproject.org.uk). I would find it disingenuous to fly around the world to tell people about this and other projects.
Any international travel (in mainland Europe) is accomplished by hybrid car with four passengers, or by train (especially night trains).
Mike Page is an engineer turned cognitive psychologist. His principle research has been in human memory, though he has a developing interest in the psychology of pro-environmental behavior change. He directs the Cube Project, in which he designs and builds net-zero-carbon microhomes, as demonstrations of important techniques and technologies.
I took the decision to stop flying (as far as possible) when I started working in this field (climate science). Since then I have attended numerous meetings around Europe, (I’m based in the UK), always by train. I get in well with sleeper trains!
I’ve only flown once for work – to a project meeting in Reykjavik. I understand the advantages of flying, but suspect that those who fly do not understand the advantages of a slower journey.
GCM, RCM & Reanalysis datasets
High-resolution gridded datasets
In comparison to other researchers, I suppose I do not fly very much (about 2-3 short-haul flights per year). Most of my academic career plays out in Europe, where in many cases good railway links exist. Yet over the past years, I have become more concerned about these flights, and have started looking for railway alternatives to flights more often. This is probably facilitated by the fact that my current position allows me to use a railway discount card.
I would like to introduce a policy at my university/faculty that requires staff traveling distances under 750 km to demonstrate serious inconvenience if they cannot travel by airplane. The railway network, especially the high-speed train network in Germany and neighbouring countries, is generally well-functioning and can serve as a reasonable alternative. The next step would be to work towards a genuinely European railway network comparable to the Japanese shinkansen trains, that can serve as a credible alternative to flying even for long-distance north-south train travel.
Researcher on the fault lines of law, regulation, public administration, and sociology. My research interests include transparency (freedom of information) and quantification (governing by numbers).
Working in the museum field, particularly in community/citizen science, a lot of flying is expected of me. I am working towards greatly decreasing my air miles personally, and hoping to change the culture of the field toward more virtual and regional connectivity. I hope to meet others with whom to collaborate on this work.
I work to connect community and scientists to help answer real world questions, specifically about nature in the Southern California region. I co-founded the City Nature Challenge with Alison Young from the California Academy of Sciences. This global program with over 130 cities world-wide is organized regionally by local groups. All our resources and collaborative meetings are shared/held virtually. I believe it is a great model for scaling a project globally with a low carbon footprint.
I stopped flying a while back – 2011, in fact. The decision was due in large part to my previous poor experiences while flying, as well as general concerns over safety and – of course – the environment. I have faced a number of challenges caused by me refusing to fly, although for the most part I have been able to overcome most of them through alternative means – bus travel for short domestic trips, rail travel for interstate and continental international travel, and boat travel for intercontinental trips. The funny thing is, not flying has allowed me to see things I would never have otherwise seen – the interior of the USA and Canada and some of the islands in the South Pacific (Polynesia and Melanesia), for example. So yes, although not flying can present the occasional challenge, so far the benefits seem to be outweighing the disadvantages. I think, therefore, that I’ll stick to non-flight modes of transportation from now on!
After 20 years in the oil & gas industry, I am now working to undo the damage.
I avoid flying for personal leisure, and limit flying for work as much as possible. When work travel is needed, I try to add a few days’ holiday to avoid leisure flying.
I stopped flying in 2005; I have flown once for unavoidable work reasons ( not a conference) since then. My research concerns the search for more sustainable transport solutions – a field where long-haul flying to conferences is still, unfortunately the norm. Well done for taking this initiative. I hope to talk to you further about it when the article mentioned below is finished.
I have written about these issues in my last book and have supervised research on people who have stopped or reduced their flying for environmental reasons, which we hope to publish shortly.
Working on carbon cycling (soils) in relation to climate change has made me aware of the importance to drastically curb emissions. However, preaching is not the same as acting. Therefore, since 2000 I have only flown once and this was for unavoidable field work in the Arctic. Since then I have not taken on any work or conferences/meetings where plane travel is necessary. This has not been easy – I certainly lost out on opportunities and had to make ends meet. It has also resulted in dealing with pressure from above (University) regarding the need to attend overseas conferences in order to apply for promotion (but I successfully defended my position). I think there is an urgent rethink required in the scientific community – air travel needs to be the last option and ideally is to be avoided.
Dr. Heinemeyer has been a soil scientist since 1998 (Diploma in Germany) and started to focus on plant-soil-atmosphere carbon cycling since his PhD (York, UK) in 2002. From then on he worked on various ecosystems, including arable, grassland, forests and peatlands. He routinely measure carbon fluxes and also model carbon sequestration as well as GHG emissions in relation to both climatic and management changes. This clearly highlights the importance of considering soil carbon feedbacks, both in contributing to (decomposition losses) as well as mitigating against (sequestration) rises in atmospheric CO2 and thus global warming. He has published more than 45 papers and contributed to a book on soil carbon dynamics.
Flying less is at the top of my list of priorities for reducing my climate impact. I have pretty well exhausted all other margins and aim to reach 2 tonnes of emissions per year. I don’t fly much – but still, once per year, for about 6-8 thousand km. I travel to conferences and couple this travel with family visits. When I can, I attend local or regional conferences instead of far away ones. I dislike airports, big trips, luggage, etc., so flying less is a bonus. For a significant impact, changing the academic culture around flying needs to come from the top, so that flying less does not come at the expense of career advancement.
I was trained as labour economist but have engaged in a variety of research areas: child care and women’s labour supply, tobacco control, agricultural sustainability and regional planning, housing first, and more recently, the determinants of electric vehicles adoption.
There is a strong pressure in academia to travel more, go to more conferences, strengthen your international network. And it is very flattering to be invited to speak abroad. For a long time I didn’t fly at all, but academic culture pulled me back into this carbon heavy way of life. It’s time to change this!
Lecturer in practical theology, adjunct professor in political theology.
As someone who works in climate research and a father of two, I am concerned about the impact of climate change. Due to family reason, giving up flying would be a difficult sacrifice, and one that I could not completely forswear at the moment. Professionally, this is especially difficult within my field of research where conferences and team meetings more often than not require air travel. However, I’m committed to flying less, by which I mean at least 1 to 2 flights per year compared to the usual schedule. I don’t know if that would be helpful, but against the odds, I hope.
Hai Nguyen is a concerned climate researcher and a concerned citizen. He speaks here on his own behalf (as do all on this site).
I’ve learned that long distance bus is a pretty good way to get to conferences, and it’s cheaper.
I work on agricultural capitalism in the 19th century.
I try not to fly for my work. I have traveled long distances in Europe by (night)train, often for more than 24 hours. My favourite journeys were Wageningen (NL) – Oslo (NO), Leipzig (DE) – Budapest (HUN), and Zadar (HR) – Utrecht (NL). What I like about train journeys is the slow way of traveling. It can be relaxing and is often beautiful. I can also work better in a train than on a rather hectic journey by plane (I usually do reviews).
My current employer sets off carbon emission through air travel, which is good, but we actually need to cut on emissions, not to neutralise. I unfortunately have to argue with the travel office when a train journey takes considerably longer or is slightly more costly (often they are cheaper), or when train travel causes additional overnight stays. I sometimes do fly, in particular, when private life is affected too heavily, or a journey by train could cause significant trouble due to limited connections across borders. I then try to avoid a domestic, connecting flight wherever possible. I have said no to work meetings and conferences to avoid a flight.
I believe it is a personal, individual responsibility of everyone to limit air travel, but good collective alternatives also need to be built. Society needs to invest in train infrastructure, and scientific institutes need to invest in stable video-conferencing. Among colleagues we should stimulate a cultural shift, in the sense that being busy with a high amount of (air) travel is not something we should strive for.
Matthias Schröter is Postdoc at the Computational Landscape Ecology Department of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. Matthias has a broad interdisciplinary background, including landscape ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics and environmental ethics. His research focuses on spatial ecosystem service assessments, in particular inter-regional flows of ecosystem services, telecoupling and co-production of ecosystem services.
Eleven years of university with the last 5 on sustainability. Quit flying 10 years ago, but began reducing flights 20 years ago. The evidence has long been available on the effects of flying (see the Heathrow expansion reports for a recent example). Have worked in every primary resource industry in British Columbia, then went to do post-grad study on the effects of resource extraction and use on the environment and social structures. Culminated in 5 year program to study sustainability.
Presently writing a book on Sustainability and Immigration. Past research on everything from developing sustainable communities to an actual program to reduce air travel in Canada.
I started a podcast about climate change in NZ in the middle of 2017.
I noticed that I had stopped flying some years earlier – not exactly sure when my last flight was but probably 5 years or more. It just brought me down to think about CO2 whenever I got into a plane so I stopped. Now I take the bus or train – sometimes I use an EV for long trips too.
imaginemyrelief.blog (podcast and blog)
If you study environmental history, it is easy to attend conferences. There is one conference a year in the USA (American Society for Environmental History) and one conference every two years (European Society for Environmental History) somewhere in Europe. During my first holiday-trip by airplane (to Rome), looking at the pollution caused by another airplane when flying over the Alps, my first thought was: what (on earth) am I doing here? So, I decided this would be my last holiday vacation: no New World, no Asia, no Africa. I travel by train (and boat) to my (European) holiday destinations, making traveling part of the holiday.
As for the conferences: two times going to America was enough. Contacts with my colleagues in America are by email and Skype. My recommendation would be to develop Skype meetings much further, including developing ways of informal meetings (over a drink). As for European conferences: I prefer taking the train (and boat). It takes more time, but historically speaking, even going to Finland by train and boat is nowadays easy. It creates the time you need to read books from cover to cover.
“When in a hole, stop digging”. It is obvious that avoiding catastrophic climate change will require a herculean effort by the world community. We need to accept this simple truth and get to work. The first step is to stop wasting fossil fuel on unnecessary activities, such as flying. Given advances in ICT, many flights can be avoided.
Henrik does research in advanced numerical modeling with a focus on industrial applications, such as wind turbines, electrical arcs, and chemical processes. Emphasis on renewable energy.
I haven’t flown short-haul since 2008, since I first learned about the environmental impact of aviation. It was an eye-opening revelation for me, and I’ve subsequently been involved in campaigning on aviation and other environmental issues as a result. As a climate scientist, I feel like I have to practice what I preach: I only fly if I really have to, and if there’s no other way – for instance to get to Antarctica for work. If I really need to go to a conference, and there’s a way to get there over land or sea, I’ll do it!
I work on Antarctic climate change – what’s making ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula melt. I’m interested in climate models, polar science, the surface energy balance, cloud microphysics and atmospheric science.
With very few exceptions I have not flown for about 10 years. For about 7 years up to late 2012, I was working full time on environmental campaigning, mainly to do with climate change. There is a pressing need for academic conferences to be largely online. There are pros and cons but the environmental argument trumps them all.
Gerry Wolff started with research in cognitive science, then after work in software engineering, he migrated to research and lecturing in software engineering and AI. He’s now Director of not-for-profit CognitionResearch.org.
Last year in November I was in Mexico for a Law Philosophy Conference. After this trip I checked the carbon footprint: 4192 kg, only for the flight! After that I decided to try to fly less, and till now I have no flight in 2018. I try to choose conferences where I can travel by train. This art of travel is much better. And to be honest, flying could be the biggest mistake of mankind.
I am writing my PhD on “Ethical and Philosophical Aspects of Privacy”. I also work on Applied Ethics and ICT and sustainability.
For most people in academia, as individuals, flying less is the single biggest change we can make to protect the environment from climate change. For academic communities, collectively, a dramatic reduction in flying is the single highest-priority contribution we can make to help put our world on a path to sustainable consumption during a time of climate change.
There is a road forward toward both environmental sustainability and joyful prosperity. Through the #flyingless initiative, Joe Nevins, a team of other academics, and I have compiled a wealth of information and resources for university communities. On a more personal level, my family and I have been conducting our own experiment in living richly with a low-carbon profile.
Here is my personal testimonial. I stopped flying in August, 2014. In my academic work as an economist who studies food policy at Tufts University, in Boston, the career adjustments have worked out well. I take trains for my frequent business travel to DC and for more occasional university and conference presentations in cities as far away as Ohio and Atlanta. Because I travel more seldom, I can take a little more time for professional and personal visits at the destination. I have a system for efficient work on the train, so the time opportunity cost of most travel is now less by train than by air. I accept more conference and university engagements in Boston, and fewer elsewhere. For some long-distance invitations, I propose one of my graduate students, which has sometimes even helped the panel organizers enhance diversity by age and gender. As just one tool in the toolset, not as a full alternative to flying, I give some presentations by webinar, and I organize working meetings by WebEx several times a week. For one of my grant-funded projects (RIDGE, an initiative for research on U.S. nutrition assistance programs), I’ve reduced the flying requirement for the whole team. Emotionally, I am highly motivated to accept the small losses from not flying, when they do occur, because it is meaningful to be living out my principles. It helps me stay upbeat and focused on days when the news is troubling.
In sum, my testimony to you is that we really can dramatically reduce our flying while still achieving what we hope to achieve in our work and lifestyle as scholars.
Parke Wilde (PhD, Cornell) is a food economist at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. His research addresses food security and hunger measurement, the economics of food assistance programs, and federal dietary guidance policy. He is one of the organizers of the #flyingless initiative, keeps a food policy blog at usfoodpolicy.com, and is currently revising his 2013 book from Routledge/Earthscan, titled Food Policy in the United States: An Introduction.
I guess the main challenge for all of us is time. Alternatives to flying simply take longer in many cases. I live in Sweden, a country with an excellent train network and with great connections to other European countries. Still taking the train from my home, Lund, to Berlin takes me about 8 hours. A flight from nearby Copenhagen Airport takes 45 minutes. But that is just half the story. I have to work with an administration and a travel system which is entirely catered towards flying. At my university’s travel agency I often have to explicitly demand alternatives to flying, even if cheap and convenient alternatives are available. One example is the trip to Oslo. There is a direct bus from Lund to Oslo which takes about 8 hours but the default option is the airplane.
I appreciate long train rides because they give me a feeling for the distance I cover on a trip. It is also often a way to travel with way fewer interruptions compared to flying where one has to go through numerous security checks and whatnot before boarding the plane. To my that is significantly less stressful.
Henner Busch wrote his PhD thesis on urban climate governance. He has also done quite a bit of work on community energy projects. Currently he’s working on certification schemes for bioenergy.
In 1995 I went on a flying binge to the USA with my immediate family: husband and 2 young daughters. The main purpose of the holiday was to repatriate my mother’s ashes to join those of my father and my aunt in an L.A. cemetery. We also visited several relatives and friends on the Eastern seaboard and the West coast. After that, no flying for me until September 2017. I went on holiday to Sicily with my daughter and her partner – and as they couldn’t spare the extra time off work necessitated by rail travel, I reluctantly agreed to fly.
I researched and published the Calendar of Climate Change (2007,2008,2009) where flying always had a prominent place.
I hadn’t flown for a few years but took a trip to NYC from my home in London. On the way back, I remember saying to myself “this might be the last time I fly”. Something told me that this artificial experience that I knew was terrible for the environment had to stop. That was around six years ago. My work pattern changed afterwards. I had never been a regular flyer, but would jump on planes for work when I needed to. But I turned my back on that and made the commitment to myself to only work locally, or in countries I could reach by train.
Deciding not to fly has had a huge impact on me, it’s put me more into the mentality of buying local and working to keeping my footprint down.
There may be two more flights in me, to see close family members 3,000 miles away. I’m gearing myself up for this possibility, feeling completely torn about not wanting to be responsible for so many emissions, but it’s been 8 years since seeing them. Going on this potential trip feels like last chance disco to see people who I’m so close to I don’t think I can bear the thought of never seeing them in the flesh again.
Composer, pianist and founder of ClimateKeys, a worldwide initiative that coordinates concerts by musicians and climate change experts who lead conversations with the audience. ClimateKeys has a no-fly policy; concerts are organised where the musician lives and local speakers are sourced. In this way, ClimateKeys is a ‘glocal’ project, happening in multiple countries but carried out locally.
I recently finished a five-year European FP7 project that involved meetings in Bilbao, Rome, Potsdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Versailles, and Bonn. I managed to do all of it, from Newcastle, by train. It’s pretty easy once you get your head around the connections, and planning in advance means it’s not that much more expensive than flying. The short journeys are even comparable in time! Travelling by train is so much more enjoyable and productive as well.
I work on urban models for climate adaptation planning, and think about the links between increasing resilience and reducing emissions. I have a particular interest in sustainable transport.
My wife and I consciously chose to stop flying in 2009 around the time we were married. Prior to that we had traveled a fair amount individually and really loved traveling, but felt that of all the things we did, flying was the most clearly impactful thing that we could change in our lives. Stopping flying has not been difficult, and has more than compensated for by the feeling that we are living in sync with our deeply held values. I say, try it. It’s not so hard. You’ll immediately feel better for making the change!
I’ve been trying to limit my flights for 3 years now. I still fly about once per year (to do field work or to attend major conferences) but I’m planning to cut back even further. I’m also encouraging my colleagues to fly less. The major challenge (as a New Zealand scientist) is that we are surrounded by ocean and so it’s very hard to find an alternative way to visit international labs or conferences…there are no trains I can take to travel to Europe or North America! I’m actively exploring virtual conference options and trying to use internet video calls to keep collaborations going. As a senior scientist this works ok, but for younger New Zealand scientists this is very difficult, as they need to forge links around the world. In the long run, we may need to accept more limited collaborations in science to help protect the environment.
I am a senior researcher in the field of active tectonics using geodynamic numerical models of earth processes. I have worked with and developed 2D and 3D numerical methods incorporating faults, properties of crustal rocks, and thermal and fluid evolution of active plate boundaries. Recent work has focused on the influence of faulting on stresses in the crust, and the interplay between seismic and interseismic deformation in New Zealand. My field work has included trips to Papua New Guinea and the Southern Alps of New Zealand- this work sometimes requires using helicopters to access the field sites.
I try to fly less by attending fewer conferences: in my experience, it is possible to make up for the lessened contacts through other means.
I still need to travel in order to conduct fieldwork in the remote areas where endangered languages are still spoken (in my case: Yunnan, Sichuan and northern Vietnam). Whenever possible, I travel for long durations, avoiding ‘hopping’ to another continent for less than one month.
I’m a linguist, witnessing the rapid loss of the world’s linguistic diversity, parallel to the loss of biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems. Documenting languages and creating state-of-the-art archives doesn’t keep the languages alive, but offers a serious basis for continuing research, and (whenever feasible) for language revitalization now, or revival in future.
After reading the 2008 IPCC Report, I went from depression to, ultimately, action:
I have made peace with never seeing Italy again (unless I get on a Greenpeace ship as writer-on-board), and have now done the round-trip train journey from Vancouver to Boulder to see family over 25 times.
The train is now my transportation and my muse – where I write novels late night in the lounge as we roll through darkened desert, acquire interested readers in the dining car, and fix in poetry images of lone dog or flooded field; the rhythm of the rails…
It is a joy every single time to hear the “All Aboard!” and step up.
My cli-fi stories have been published in “Stone Canoe” and “Winds of Change – Short Stories about our Climate” as well as at sapiensplurum.org/waterfromthemountain.html.
I am at work on the third novel in my Young Adult climate fiction series, “Distant Dream”, and seeking agency representation.
Hi, I have a BSc in Biology and for the past three years I have sat as an elected official in a small municipality in British Columbia, Canada.
I have walked my low carbon talk for a couple decades. I live in an earthen home powered by the sun that I co-created with my husband. We grow most of our food…year round. Our home was the first project ever rated on the International Living Building Challenge and achieved a very high standard with a net zero carbon footprint.
We both gave up flying over a decade ago and choose to consume less in every aspect of our lives. We are lucky in that our family lives local. We vacation locally for hiking and kayaking trips and have said no many times to flying for our environmental advocacy work.
Our work (outside of our council duties) involves regenerative design for food, water, energy and lifestyle.
With my council work, I sit on the regional Climate action committee and try to bring scientifically informed discussion to the table regarding GHGe.
I also brought a climate resolution to the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) where it was supported and then went on to the BC government. This resolution asked the BC government to start counting all of our emissions (including aviation, consumption emissions, soil carbon emissions, and food emissions) which were up until then, completely left out.
In the past several years I have taken no more than one round trip by airplane per year. This has been challenging because my family lives in Europe and on the opposite U.S. coast. I am also expected to participate in academic conferences. So far, I have found ways to meet and communicate with my family and stay active academically despite the restrictions I have imposed on my airplane travel. To me, it is important to avoid flying as much as possible because of safety concerns: Are airlines and airports able to guarantee safety, adequately maintain equipment and attract qualified pilots and other aviation professionals with the salaries they are able to offer given the low ticket prices we pay? I am also very concerned about the large amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are created by air travel, which contribute to extreme weather and make our lives, including air travel, less safe. By letting people know that I try very hard to reduce flying, I hope to alert others to these problems. My hope is that more people will forgo air plane trips that are not really necessary but purely for leisure or pleasure. Perhaps people will be able to find less carbon-intensive ways to spend their time thus allowing the economy to re-allocate resources to more environmentally friendly industries.
Assistant Professor of Finance with an interest in ecological economics, Saint Joseph’s University.
Need to combine knowing with doing.
My current research projects are centred around environment, energy and technology with a special focus on ecopreneurship, utopias, expectations, gender and climate.
I am an experimental economist interested in cross-cultural analysis. I am based in Germany and have conducted quite a lot of research in countries as disparate as Colombia or Papua New Guinea. Over the last years I have become committed to avoid catching a plane on at least one of the two legs of the trip. Therefore, I travelled to Colombia on a cargo ship. Although I had to catch a plane to leave Papua, I then returned to Europe by train, travelling on a marvelous route in Central Asia along the ancient Silk Road. I visited China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, then took a ferry to Southern Italy and then came North by train. I did this twice already and plan to do the same this year. I have banned taking a plane to travel within Europe. I frequently travel to Italy to visit my parents, or to attend conferences and in the last years I stopped flying. I use either coaches or trains. I try to avoid to travel to other continents to attend conferences, I just wait for interesting conferences to be held in Europe.
I am senior researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Germany) and lecturer at the Universitat Jaume I (Castelló de la Plana, Spain). In the past I have held teaching and research positions at Southampton University, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (Warwick University), IN+ (Instituto Superior Técnico of Lisbon) and Center for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen).
My research interests delve into the interaction between individual behaviour and socio-economic structures, often adopting an experimental methodology and using a cross-cultural perspective. I have publications in PNAS, Nature Communications, Psychological Science, Experimental Economics, Journal of Evolutionary Economics.
The relationship among globalization, co-operation and trust was explored in a pioneering six-country study which was funded by the US National Science Foundation and that I have founded and co-ordinated with Nancy Buchan (University of South Carolina).
Recently I have also been Principal Investigator in a project on “Fairness, Merit, and Individual Distributive Preferences”. Fieldwork was conducted in various locations in the US, Italy, Norway, and Germany. We aim at understanding the psychological and cultural underpinnings of the broad differences in systems of welfare observed among developed countries. In a recent study, it has been explored how individual distributive preferences react to variations in the fairness with which initial opportunities are assigned within a bargaining problem.
I have also co-ordinated a research project on income inequality in transition developing economies that received a 135k Euros grant from the European Commission. An empirical paper analysing the links between globalisation, regionalisation, and income inequality in transition economies, and a theoretical paper modelling the impact of a technology shock on a developing economy’s income dynamics have been published.
I have also participated in a project assessing the long-term effects on cognitive function of exposure to violence.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.