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’m a waste-phobe. After about 100 flights by the age of 45, I have now flown only once in 12 years. I prefer to travel on the ground and in a minimalist fashion, and really hate how everybody thinks it’s someone else’s job to prevent climate change.
Long-distance travel is costly in many ways – carbon, time, effort, & money. It’s much more efficient for most academicians to stay back from most meetings they are invited to. I regularly suggest remote participation, and my grad student class just released a survey on the topic of flying less, so we’ll be writing a paper in the coming months.
Professor of transportation engineering for 21 years, co-author on over 150 journal publications in transportation (including energy & land use, for example).
Four degrees from U.C. Berkeley (3 in civil engineering, plus minors in economics). NSF CAREER Award winner, MIT Tech Review Top 100 (young) Innovators winner, Google Research Award Winner, U.C. Berkeley Medalist, etc.
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.
Next to adopting a vegan diet, to stop flying is one of the most impactful personal decision one can make to help the climate.
Polar climate modelling with CESM.
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
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).
I work in global health and lead a project in Bangladesh. Most of my colleagues fly a lot and consider this normal. I try to minimize my flying. This means declining invitations or participating remotely (often the organizers don’t put enough effort to make it work well, though), going to conferences when they are in Europe where I can take the train, and relying on collaborators and colleagues in Bangladesh.
My postdocs and PhD students still fly more and I don’t pressure them too much, as they want to build their careers.
I studied medicine in Germany and epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. I have been working at Heidelberg University since 2009 and lead the Unit of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health. My work focuses on maternal and child health in low-income settings, with a particular interest in pregnancy and nutrition.
I have not flown since 2007, but this was not a firm decision against flying; rather, it happened as a result of circumstances. Now I have decided not to fly again until electrically powered aeroplanes are in commercial use.
I am very concerned about the carbon dioxide-enriched atmosphere and the legacy of climate change that I am leaving to the next generation. As a parent of a disabled child who is unable to make important choices for herself, I owe it to her and to all young people to reduce the damaging effects of climate change.
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 chose to reduce my flying about 2 years ago because we are clearly facing a global crises through global warming. Given that I have interstate family and friends, this has necessarily meant less contact. And, of course, overseas trips are out of the question.
My friendship group all socialise around their travel experiences and stories, and my partner continues with international travel, presenting me with some personal/social challenges. The only flights I take now are much less frequent to see family who live interstate. (I suspect the boat option is as bad, if not worse, as far as pollution is concerned – but it remains an open question for me.)
I am now trying to fly as little as possible for my research and to attend conferences.
I will therefore go to The Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, UK and Poland in the coming months, all by train (except for a one flight due to the lack of time to transfer between two events.
I would like to propose to the academic community in Switzerland (especially SNSF and universities) to mobilize extra funds to finance flight-free travels for voluntary researchers.
Anthropologist studying the European networks promoting the emergence of new rights for natural entities.
I can surely do better than this.
More than 80% of the world’s population has never taken a single flight. Reading about this fact was an eye-opener for me, and made my cumulative carbon backpack feel extremely heavy.
Henceforth, I plan my work related traveling in a way that allows me to avoid flying as much as I can. We already have all the equipment for remote meetings, but there is no encouragement to actually harness them in order to avoid unnecessary traveling. For my holidays, there are plenty of attractive options here in the North that won’t require flying.
Field of study: Global climate modelling, focusing on short-live climate forcers (for ex. black carbon emissions).
I began trying to reduce flying in 2007 by introducing web streaming for conferences. This was at first experimental, but it became mainstream for our then-annual conference ‘Innovation for Extremes’ at Lancaster University from 2008-2012.
Was it successful? Yes, we were able to stream in international speakers from the US, Canada and Japan on a regular basis. Our live Twitter feed brought participation and questions from those who couldn’t make the conference. There was still a physical conference with UK participants, but with international keynote speakers.
It was quite hard work, as web streaming then was less mainstream than it is now, but it certainly reduced carbon footprint. We didn’t get the business model quite right though, as we didn’t get the pay system for conference delegates right. But it did make people think.
I am an Emeritus professor of entrepreneurship at Lancaster University, UK. The ‘Innovation for Extremes’ conferences were a link between the university and the outdoor industry, and focused on sustainability. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thOs0dqEdfA
From it grew the business I co-founded on retirement, Outdoor Gear Coach https://www.outdoorgearcoach.co.uk/
I run a business focused on facilitating widespread reuse of existing goods & materials as a socially-scalable climate mitigation strategy.
In my efforts to apply data to this work (contrasting manufacturing emissions w/ shipping emissions) I learned that, in most cases, existing items could literally be shipped across the US (often multiple times) before approaching the emissions created when manufacturing these items using the most sustainable manufacturing methods possible (100% recycled materials) *as long as* those used items aren’t put on airplanes.
While this research and discovery heartily affirmed my research (a market opportunity to build out the most circular economy possible), it also forced me to face an uncomfortable truth: I shouldn’t be flying, either.
And so, I stopped.
In the last 18 months, I’ve taken my daughter to NYC, attended a Climate Reality conference, and encouraged other family members to join us for a weekend away, all via Amtrak.
In 2019, I’ll ratchet down even my Amtrak travel in favor of lower carbon alternatives (staying put, digital travel, slow transit) as I continue to lead by example.
In 2010, I launched a business with a specifically environmental premise (and my daughter’s future for motivation): use radical transparency to build a regenerative company culture around community, creativity, & reuse.
For nearly six years, @shopjunket showed up as a vintage/creative reuse supply shop, where we puzzled over problems like ‘how do we commoditize the itty bitty things that no one else even thinks about…and how might we do this profitably, with CO2 labeling, so that big companies can’t insist that carbon labeling is impossible?’ and ‘why are some people/companies so resistant to reuse?’
We devoted our efforts to measuring, documenting, and systematizing strategies for carbon-informed commerce. We cheered at the incremental increases in awareness: where our premise had been radical as we began, climate change was a regular point of conversation with our clients as we wound down earlier this year.
Today, our work is focused on educating, advocating, and supporting low-impact living as a socially and environmentally regenerative climate strategy.
We are building an ethical platform for the online sale of 100% reuse/re-manufactured offerings with carbon education, ground shipping (only), and a ‘here when you need it,’ #SecondhandOnDemand approach to supporting artists and others who make and create.
I’m a French biochemist working at EPFL in Lausanne. I think scientists as a whole should lead the way toward matching our behaviors as humans to the data that we gather. If our studies show that we are nearing an ecological and environmental collapse, we need to start acting like it.
Also, from my rather short experience of going to conferences, I don’t think they are as crucial and efficient as we claim. Most of the time it’s just a matter of politics and showing your presence and your work, instead of highly productive scientific discussions that lead to an increase in scientific productivity and output.
Collaborations can be started and maintained remotely. For that, we need new or better tools to connect scientific communities and enable remote participation in scientific gatherings.
I studied biology and environmental sciences. I did my PhD on the biochemistry and biophysics of photosynthesis, and am now working as a postdoc on membrane proteins and mechanobiology.
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 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.
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 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.
I cycled from the UK to Bangkok before starting my job at the University of Hong Kong, and I loved the fact that my carbon footprint was so low. Traveling by bicycle was the best way to experience the countries I passed through.
But since starting my job at HKU, I have flown on numerous long haul flights, to spend a few days at a conference. I can no longer justify doing this when I know that climate breakdown is occurring. I have decided not to attend a summer school in the US this year because it would mean another flight. I am also committed to traveling to any conferences I do attend by train if at all possible.
This summer, I will return to the UK to visit my family which means a long-haul flight cannot be avoided. However, I have decided to spend two months in Europe and I will travel to my conference in Lisbon by ferry and train. It will be more expensive, but I know it is the right thing to do – individual actions can make a difference, and reshape how other people think and act as well. This is the beginning of an attempt to reduce my flights to a maximum of one round trip flight per year, before phasing out flying totally.
My research draws on both contemporary literature and my experiences of cycling 16,500 km across Europe and Asia to explore what it means to be hospitable in the contemporary world.
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.
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 decided to attend fewer conferences, decline invitations to talk, etc. in support of climate responsibility.
I work on Mexican history and culture: urban history, tourism history, music and culture.
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.
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.
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.
We became uncomfortable about flying in our personal lives about ten years ago because of the incontrovertible evidence that flying impacts heavily on an individual’s emissions profile. Since then we’ve opted to take public buses around our home country of New Zealand rather than flying (NZ has no proper train system). We have taken international long haul flights in the past (the last time was 2015 for Liam and 2016 for Hannah), but have since done some serious soul-searching about whether we’ll ever do this again.
Since July 2017 we’ve been running a project called The Rubbish Trip. We travel New Zealand full-time giving free talks and presentations about how individuals can reduce household rubbish (we’ve lived without a bin since the beginning of 2015).
On The Rubbish Trip we’re constantly traveling, but we wanted to do this without flying. As of March 2019, we’ve delivered almost 300 presentations in every single region of NZ, without ever setting foot on a plane. Our transportation is a mixture of hitchhiking, public buses, cycling, and walking (although we no longer have a car, in our first year we did have a small one for driving between main centres).
We have not faced challenges with no flying because we embedded this approach into The Rubbish Trip from the outset. Businesses, schools, and communities who would like us to present understand that they need to wait until we are in their town. Businesses with offices across the country space our visits out across several months rather than several days. We feel our no-fly stance may shift culture because we are modelling that it’s possible to run a full-time nationwide speaking tour without flying. On the flipside, we feel that as advocates for personal behaviour change for the environment, people look to us, to a certain degree, for guidance on sustainable living generally. If we were to fly as part of The Rubbish Trip, implicitly we’d be legitimising casual use of air travel when alternatives exist, or perhaps even sending the message that air travel is justified when being used to deliver a sustainability message, when in actual fact we do not believe that it is.
Our approach to advocating waste minimisation has always been to start by walking the talk ourselves and support others to as well. We apply this same approach to climate change mitigation. We wholeheartedly believe that serious environmentally motivated change at an industry and policy level is imperative. However, it’s not mutually exclusive with individual personal behaviour change. In fact, we may never achieve societal-level change if individuals do not start learning and practising new ways of living everyday and showing that low-impact ways of being and doing are possible.
Not flying has shaped The Rubbish Trip in positive ways. Traveling through towns and cities rather than flying over them has allowed us to reach more people (including communities that might not ordinarily have visiting speakers) and learn more about the waste situation in every part of NZ. Not flying (and also going car free) has also saved us a lot of money.
The Rubbish Trip is a nationwide zero waste speaking tour.
I have been deliberately NOT going to annual conferences. It is unnecessary to attend these every year when we could all get the information online or via email.
Out here in the Western Pacific, everyone has to fly now to get anywhere. But I am deliberately choosing what is really necessary to attend (conferences, meetings). This has caused some issues at work when we have grant money for travel.
Territorial Epidemiologist for Guam. Public health, social epidemiology.
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 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.
La société de consommation est devenue un gros enfant roi. Si on lui enleve ses privilèges, il fait une crise. On doit se priver si on souhaite un avenir pur pour nos enfants. Sinon, ca s’appelle de l’égoisme et de l’hypocrisie.
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.
Not only is flying bad for the environment, but for medical reasons it is bad for me personally. I have used my hybrid vehicle to drive to conferences since I purchased it in 2018, and it is wonderful to not have to buy a taxi from the airport and also to be able to plug in at my destination, often for free!
Plus, I can take as much luggage as I want, and I don’t have to worry about my stuffy academic suit jackets getting crumpled in the overhead compartment! No downsides, honestly.
I am a STEM education specialist interested in increasing participation in STEM for systemically marginalized groups (e.g., Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, etc.). My focus is on collaborative learning and personal narratives as building blocks for a sense of community in STEM.
For business its tough not to fly, but I hope with some dedicated effort I can combine more trips and do more by teleconference. I’m also keen to drive and support POP Rideshare to carpool on longer trips.
CEO of Synergy Enterprises and Executive Director of the Synergy Foundation.
I’m a senior academic who travels to many meetings a year, often by plane. I also have family in my native New Zealand, including my mother who is elderly and who I visit every couple of years. Now, my adult children are also starting to fly.
I am consumed with guilt about our carbon footprint, yet find it hard to imagine not traveling. I don’t know what the answer is but would like to discuss with others facing the same conflict.
I study the neural coding of space and direction, using electrophysiological single-neuron recording in awake behaving rodents.
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.
I’m a semi-retired consultant. I very rarely fly; I prefer to drive cross-country in my Tesla Model 3 AWD (all wheel drive) when I travel, which isn’t very often.
MSEE Georgia Tech 1980
Hewlett-Packard – Signal Analysis Division
PhD Program Georgia Tech 1992-1996
Instructor/Lab Manager Georgia Tech College of Computing 1996-2005
Professional Engineer, State of Georgia
KD4MNI Amateur Radio License
IEEE, NSPE/GSPE, ACM, ARRL
Board, Smyrna Historical Society
Expert Consultant, Tesla Electric Vehicles
Consultant, Renewable Energy
Semi-retired consultant, Colestock Enterprises
Electrical Engineering (general), telecommunications, signal analysis, computer networking, battery-electric vehicles, renewable energy
I traveled by train from the UK to a conference in Sweden, via Eurostar. I was impressed by the rail service in the countries I passed through. There was plenty of time to read as well as seeing the changing landscape. The train going onto the ferry between Germany and Denmark was interesting.
I teach ecology and environmental management at the University of Bolton. My research interests are interdisciplinary. I’m interested in how people perceive and use landscapes, and how the value of natural areas can be better incorporated into strategic planning processes.
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.
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.
I’m worried about the future of our planet. I still fly, but whenever possible I like to take the train. I love to travel by train, as it is a completely different and exciting experience, and at the same time it gives much more peace in the soul to travel that way. Ttrain travel in Eastern Europe has been especially amazing.
I perform research in bio medicine, but at the same time I have a general interest in our globe and its amazing diversity of life. For example, I participate in studies of stranded whales.
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.
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 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.
I’ve been working/doing internship in research for 4 years. I took the plane a lot to travel between Norway and France during that time.
I now try to make my PhD plane-free. I’m half-way through it but I have to refuse opportunities overseas. I’m still hesitating for some. I try to advertise train travel in Europe in my lab (going to EGU by train). I truly enjoy traveling by train. You see more, feel like you are traveling, have time to read.
My dream is to have ways to go to North and South America by boat.
I took a master in geosciences with internship in glaciology. I now study snow with remote-sensing in my PhD.
I have always preferred other forms of travel over flying due to the latter’s environmental impact. I have avoided long-haul flights as much as possible (‘banning’ myself from AGU conferences, for example) and attempt to fly as little as possible by making time in my schedule before fieldwork, conference attendances etc. (e.g. by taking the train or sharing transport with colleagues).
I firmly believe that it is important to set a good example not just to the outside world, but also the next generation of earth scientists that we’re all helping to educate. I feel it is time to (re-) establish the links between the science we all contribute to and our behaviour by demonstrating that we can study the earth’s climate and geological processes over various time-scales and also act responsibly.
I’ve worked on glaciers and glaciation in mountain and lowland environments, ranging from small cirque glaciers to ice sheet systems over various timescales (modern processes to the last glacial maximum, c. 25,000 years before the present). My study areas of the last 15 years include the Arctic, Alps and various regions in Europe.
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.
Will first try to limit myself to one flight per year for work purposes. That is going to mean tough choices.
I bike to work and use an electric car for longer distances. I heat my house with electricity. But I am appalled by the quantity of green house gases I generate when I fly!
I specialize in the development of 3D remote sensing methods for the analysis of forests. I focus on image and lidar data processing techniques, as well as new digital photogrammetry and InSAR approaches for mapping forest canopies in 3D. I also works on species identification using standard or multispectral lidar data, as well as photogrammetric point clouds, in natural, managed or urban environments.
I try to take (even overnight) trains as much as I can, and rarely travel overseas. If I do need to fly, which I try to limit to maximum once a year, I offset the CO2.
I would also hope for taxation of kerosene, to bring flying down in general by making it somewhat less affordable.
I am a Social Neuroscientist, amongst others interested in empathy and prosociality. Climate change and dampening it is a huge challenge to humankind’s capacity to collabrate and act in a prosocial, sustainable, and ethical way.
We all need to raise awareness of alternatives to actual travel. I’ve attended exam boards via Skype and we have the technology now that we do not need to physically travel great distances using damaging means of transports.
I am a PhD candidate looking into teacher perceptions of climate change, the influence of fake news on climate change, and other key issues.
The less we fly the longer we have to live – as a species and as a living planet.
Psychotherapist and trainer – working in Embodied-Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy
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.
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.
As a retired airline employee I can fly at a much reduced rate, however I do not use that ‘benefit’ often for the reasons mentioned on this website.
Airlines globally have pushed back, successfully, against paying a reasonable fuel tax on international flights. This is foolish and not in their long term interest, but like many companies the $$ is #1. If they considered the correct and pending climate change costs they would pay this tax.
Airline captain (747-400), retired.
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.
Passionate about the Climate Chaos campaign, I have flown only 2 return journeys in the past 12 years, & will continue to find alternative ways of leaving Ireland.
Having mostly spent 2018 on maternity leave, I have been reflecting on the future I hope my children will enjoy. Their future depends on the actions we take as individuals and as a society in the next decade. As a privileged professional I am trying to do what I can to live in a way that acknowledges that my health and existence is tied to that of the planet.
I hope that individual changes such as flying less, eating a vegetarian diet and voting for leaders that value future existence and peace above short term economic gain make a difference. I hope I will be successful in changing my own habits and help to influence and inform those around me.
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.
Inspired by Kevin Anderson and others, I looked closely at the data. The evidence of accelerating climate change, and flying’s role within it, is too obvious to ignore.
I’m a Professor of comparative public policy and local public finance at Rikkyo University’s School of Economic Policy Studies. I examine disaster-prone Japan’s climate and energy initiatives, especially how they exploit the synergies in melding mitigation and adaptation.
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 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?
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.
Just discovered your website, great initiative!
I stopped flying a year ago, for environmental concerns, so now I only take the train. I also rapidly discovered plenty of advantages of traveling by train: changing my relationship to time; discovering countries, cities, landscapes that the train goes through; meeting people on the way; and last but very important in our job, I find it the perfect place to work on papers etc. as I am not disturbed by anything else.
It has also some drawbacks, such as it is more expensive than flying; depending on the countries the connections are not always smooth; it is more tiring; and also it means I will never travel outside Europe anymore unless planning a several-weeks-long trip.
Me and some co-workers actually started a similar initiative, much less focused on environment than yours, but the intention is here. If you want to check it: https://lab-allience.natur.cuni.cz/charter19 (the part concerning the environment is in the end, point number 4).
I am a researcher in plant biology. My focus is the evolution of plant reproduction, in short I am interested to know why there is such diversity in color, shape, size, etc. of flowers and fruits in plants.
I think academia is addicted to flying for two main reasons.
Firstly, academics like to attend conferences and team meetings abroad because it helps with networking and relationship building; watching talks online is not a substitute. The technology exists, however, to provide genuinely immersive virtual alternatives. It is imperative that IT companies and universities invest heavily in this now.
Second, and more shamefully, flying and staying abroad is still a marker of status – evidence of ‘international reputation’. This will be a tough nut to crack.
My response is to seek to fly less and to attend conferences closer to home, and to be vocal about the need to do so. This alone cannot solve the problem. A new technology-assisted virtual culture is needed urgently.
My focus is on values-led school improvement, responsible leadership and enhancing educational dialogue. I lead a international online Master’s course on Educational Leadership with students from all over the world (who don’t fly to lectures!).
I’m a vegan, mostly for the environment. But I know that any carbon saving through my diet is dwarfed when I fly anywhere. Starting in January 2019, I am going to get public transport wherever I can when I am going on holiday.
I work at The Independent as a sub-editor, mostly writing headlines and checking facts, and generally editing news. I also blog about low-carbon food, with recipes, at My Green Feasts.
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.
I once had a pilot’s license and enjoyed the thrill of being in a place the human body is not made to be.
Then I had kids. Then I learned about climate change, and realized it is a climate catastrophe. We are the age of the stupid, as a remarkable movie a decade ago taught.
I realized that my generation already used far more of the environment than we were allowed to. So, alas my account “up in the air” is empty, and I don’t want to take out a loan – especially not from the next generations. And so I stay on the ground.
Three kids… one bleak future, only one choice: pose as many concrete actions as possible.
Real estate broker
Sometimes I have to go between North Germany and Vienna, Austria. Until they change the cost of trains it’s the same price as flying. Because of the environment I used to take the train, even if it took me 12 hours more than a flight. After changing the train schedule last December, German train service (DB – real, real bad!) has had numerous cancellations, delays, and worse service! The prices exploded, too. No one can understand that because the service did not improve!
To book travel for the same distance and date is €40 less by plane than train. I cannot understand that. So I will go two times by plane this year. 🙁 The other five times I will take the train, even if it takes more hours and Euros. By the way: I only use a bicycle for my daily business.
I think that not flying, or flying significantly less, is an important way to reduce our carbon footprint and sends a ‘people up’ message that we want change, not more runways.
I intend to vote with my wallet on this and many other important issues of our times.
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.
Like Kim Cobb (piece by Kate Langin, Science 13May2019) I used to fly 200,000 miles a year (for two decades) to world conferences and meetings, even while writing public articles from 2000-2010 warning about climate change.
Gave up when, despite hundreds of thousands of positive messages on social media, nothing changed.
Quit flying, and refused distant speaking engagements when it finally hit me how much flying raised my carbon footprint. Now, moving my lab and home to downtown Vancouver so that we can walk to work and most places else.
Interested in joining you because, finally, public response to protecting the planet is growing, and I’m planning to hit social media again (with David Attenborough’s help). Perhaps my grandchildren will see again the magnificence of Nature I witnessed as a child.
Biochemist PhD. Design Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals. 50+ formal papers
5000 public articles, 32 books on medical
science, nutrition, pollution, climate, the carbon cycle.
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.”
I like the idea of flying less…I don’t need to be at every conference, workshop or meeting, especially in times when a lot of knowledge is spread through the internet. I am also lucky to live in Europe where most destinations can be reached by train or bus, and I understand that not all academics are in the same situation.
My main research interests are environmental and social archaeology, anthropology and historical ecology.
Because of my CO2 footprint I have been avoiding flying for 20 years.
If possible I take the train or my bike, instead of taking my car, if I am supposed to go alone.
Max Plank Institute of Biophysical Medecine, Göttingen, Germany:
psychoneuroendocrinology / neurotransmitter
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.
Let’s meet online from now on, not at over-priced conferences far away. This doesn’t only help protect the environment but also saves taxpayers’ money, which is spent by us traveling the world.
I am a planetary scientist mainly dealing with questions relating to the Moon.
I’m not a huge flyer in the first place, but since I heard about the impacts of flying on the environment I’m more mindful. I do love travel and we all hold it in high regard, putting exotic, remote places on our bucket list. Instagram and other social media has promoted this travel even further, and we are destroying special places with our tourism.
I’m now contemplating the idea of living a more local life, which sounds mundane to so many. I want to explore and care for my own back yard.
Denver public school teacher
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 fasted from flying for a decade. I walked from Illinois to Arizona at age 20, and have taken primarily passenger and freight trains, buses, and cars to travel. I first went to Europe by boat.
At that point my life became more complicated and I started to fly, but have since reduced it to only the most necessary trips. My ethic now is to fly only for family, or activism in which I feel that the benefit of flying is greater than the cost. I do not fly for vacation or pleasure.
I study political economy with a concentration in neoliberalism and financialization. I take coursework on climate change and climate policy, and am volunteering with Voyage Vert, which is attempting to create the first sustainable sun, wind, and non-fossil fuel-powered transatlantic passenger ferry. We are always looking for supporters and collaborators.
As a doctoral student, I am so early into an academic career that I worry the decisions I am making to fly less (hopefully, soon, not at all) will impact my career as I close myself off from international networks and other academics. In particular, being a student of English Literature in a non-anglophone country (as fantastically multilingual as it is!), the community of academics in my field is very small in the immediate vicinity. I have vowed (to myself) not to take a long-haul flight to attend a conference, but in doing so I am forgoing the ‘opportunity’ to meet with others working in the area I research. This might not be as stifling to a more senior academic, someone who has already fostered these connections and might have more persuasion to move discussions and collaborations onto other platforms (i.e. online) to reduce the need for flying. And whereas I think my research will survive, I worry for my post-PhD prospects as I will not have ‘put myself out there’ in a meaningful way and will be lacking in conference experience and potential collaborations in research groups or writing/editorial opportunities.
As I have moved to Switzerland from the UK, I have conceded to traveling by plane to visit my family (hence why I specify ‘long-haul’ above). To try and turn this into a positive, I do combine visiting my family with participation in UK-based academic events, so as to widen my pool. I know there is a selfishness to this, but I live according to a low-impact ecological lifestyle, and as a graduate student I know I have time to adjust this even more so, according to the principles of leading a low-carbon and low-waste professional and personal life.
My early interests in Romantic poetry and prose focused on the intersection with philosophy, and my research is now geared towards a re-reading of late Romanticism in light of recent ecological and environmental criticism, in particular John Clare and non-human labour and work.
In one episode of my alternative-energy R&D career at Los Alamos National Lab, I was flying around seeking millions of dollars to develop new technology to capture flared associated gas from remote oil fields. One day I was in Houston at a corporation whose name everyone recognizes. For after-lunch entertainment, they proudly showed me an arbitrage operation, where a hundred young people, with pc’s and headsets, in one big room, were buying and selling cargoes at sea, making their decisions based on having the best weather-predicting computer in the world.
Huh? Cargo arbitrage can more than pay for a hundred salaries and a dedicated supercomputer?
The oil world looks logical to the oil people inside their world, but looks completely crazy from the outside.
I’m now officially retired, and active in local community service associated with climate change (already apparent here in New Mexico), but still active in science, too. Research-related travel down tenfold. Internet conferencing tools very helpful. Distant vacations in past 10 years only when same place as a science trip. But still stuck with too much air travel to visit family: one or two short domestic round trips per year.
(Worse: Ten short domestic round trips per year in the last years before my mom died. My apologies to future people for that. I’ll try to make it up to you.)
The main focus of my work has been the invention, understanding, and development of new energy-conversion technologies. I enjoy the thermodynamics of heat engines and refrigerators, the thermodynamics of non-ideal-gas fluids, physical acoustics, hydrodynamics, and low-temperature physics.
I have been a professional musician all my life, and have travelled by air a huge amount over the years, mostly for work, rarely for pleasure/leisure. I have become more and more concerned about how much I still have to fly for my work, but more so by the explosion of holiday and leisure flights. This is increasing at a time when it needs to be reducing.
I have pledged to find alternatives to flying, and reduce the number of flights I make drastically. Eradicating flying is my desire, but cannot be reasonably achieved whilst I am working still.
Flying is unpleasant, increasingly so. It is a dehumanising experience, but this could be tolerated if not for the huge and increasing damage that is being done to our global environment. We must greatly reduce the number of flights taken globally, and we must begin NOW!!!!
I will have to be more creative and thoughtful in my travel planning, view travel as a positive experience, and not dread every journey I take, as is the case now.
My work looks at how politicians respond to climate change, and speaking to them it’s clear that there’s a crucial role for individuals to set an example and show that climate policies have support. That’s why I do all I can to avoid flying, for work or at home. I haven’t said I’ll never fly again, but aim for less than once every three years. I pick conferences and holidays that are reachable by train, and have transferred a lot of work to video link.
I work on energy and climate policy and politics with the Universities of Exeter and Lancaster, and the think tanks Green Alliance and the New Economics Foundation.
Haven’t flown in two years. Recently I was selected to be my university’s next Posse mentor, a great cause I’m honored to be a part of. But there’s a *lot* of flying, not just for me, but for the staff and the students.
I am met with sighs, if not outright blank stares, when I express concern about it. I was able to do one trip by train, but ran afoul of budget constraints. I’ve learned to explain my decisions not as an attempt to reduce “my” footprint, but “ours”. A culture of denial.
I study the role of atmospheric ice in the climate system.
I have a home, loved ones, a job, a garden, and I live in a beautiful place. In other parts of the world, people are being displaced by climate change, facing food shortages or resource wars. They end up in refugee camps or are shot as they flee. How could I not reduce my flights?
And frankly, it’s not a hardship. My husband and I have decided to vacation in our province – there are mountains, ocean, rivers, lakes, forests and grasslands to choose from! Sometimes just staying home feels luxurious and restorative, not to mention carbon-free. Or, if we want a big-city experience we can easily visit Seattle, WA or Portland, OR by boat and train.
However, there are two types of flights I haven’t been able to eliminate. One is work travel: if I have to travel from the West Coast to Montreal, for example, there is absolutely no way my employer would pay for a 4-day train trip. The other type of flight that I still take is visiting my Mom and sisters in Croatia. I go less often – every two years instead of every year, but this is a genuine need for both myself and my family. And if I fly, they don’t have to.
Some people say reducing personal flights like this doesn’t really help because the scheduled plane leaves anyway. But if 100 people decide to do this, then between us we’ve eliminated one flight! This is why I’m really excited about this initiative. My hope is that it helps shift the culture of flying as a normal, desirable activity we are automatically entitled to.
I work as a fundraiser for an Indigenous legal defence charity. I also have a small practice as a mediator.
I am a 2 million miler on American and it shames me. I used to fly way too much for work. In 2010 I said ENOUGH and almost completely stopped. I chose more time with family, more time on and in my planet, less complicity with climate change. It can be hard to say no to requests to travel and present, especially as it is part of my job, but I find that the more you say no, the easier it gets.
Known for my obsession with the Oracle PL/SQL language, having written 10 books on the topic.
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 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 believe in the combined power of individuals. Up until 3 years ago I used to fly a few times a year, either to visit my native Europe or escape the Canadian winter. Now it seems like a such a lavish indulgence. We just can’t go on waving streams of carbon emissions around the Earth…
Sophie Voillot was born in Marseille and grew up in Montreal, where she still lives. Since her first literary translation was published in 2005, she has been a finalist of the Governor General of Canada’s Literary Translation Award seven times, out of which she received the award three times: in 2006 for Un Jardin de Papier, her translation of Thomas Wharton’s novel Salamander, 2010 for Le Cafard (Rawi Hage’s Cockroach) and 2013 for l’Enfant du jeudi (Alison Pick’s Far to go).
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.
Reducing my flying has resulted in attending fewer conferences, but not the total loss of collaboration opportunities that I had feared. I’ve had delightful adventures on Amtrak and making trips to conferences into interesting road trips with stops to look at plants along the way.
Reduced flying has helped me think broadly about my priorities and how I spend my time in a way that has been refreshing overall.
I am a plant ecologist at a small primarily undergraduate institution. My research is varied, focusing on lichen ecology, air quality, and biotic soil crusts.
As a physician and a grandmother, I understand the urgent need for radical, selfless sacrifice for our present and future world. I have traveled all over the world and always dreamed of spending my final years continuing to do what I love.
However, several years ago, while marveling at the bittersweet beauty of a receding glacier, I suddenly understood viscerally the kind of world in which my granddaughter would live. It saddened and frightened me so much that I gave up all recreational air travel then. I lost my ability to rationalize my own pleasures at the expense of the costs to others who will live beyond me.
For a few years now I fly less on family vacations, and I do not fly to destinations that can reasonably be reached by train from the NYC area – for example Washington, DC. Challenges are: visiting family in Europe and getting to field locations in Antarctica. What I like about flying less is that it is efficient: it saves time and money, commodities an academic always needs more of!
I am a mid-career geologist, paleoclimatologist, working on glacial sediments in Antarctica and elsewhere. I have been involved in expeditions, deep-sea and continental margin drilling projects as an on-ice or shipboard participant for 26 years. At Montclair State University, graduate students and I use a combination of field/ship and labwork (sedimentological and geochemical) to study paleoclimate archives from high-latitude sites.
I feel humanity is in a desperate situation. The time has come for courageous decisions.
I won’t fly anymore, though I’d love to travel often to Europe, where I have a number of friends.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
Working in Greenland makes flying less pretty challenging. However, in the last few years I’ve been committed to reducing the number of flights that I take, both for professional and personal purposes. I’ve now switched to land (and sea) transport for all conference attendance, and I even cycled/toured to one conference in the North of Scotland. It’s been a shame to have missed out on certain conferences (for example AGU in the US, and PAM in Greenland and New Zealand), however I value the reduced impact that my lack of attendance has had more.
Besides, there’s plenty going on that’s accessible from my own doorstep without flying, and there’s always Skype. When it comes to field work, I try to reduce the number of return trips per year that I take. Currently, I’m taking one trip or less each year. This has meant that I’ve often stayed in the field for extensive periods to reduce the need for multiple trips; win-win I’d say!
I explore the microbial ecology of glacial environments. This research is driven by a fascination of how microbial communities power the biogeochemical cycling of these majestic, extreme ecosystems.
I feel free now that I have decided to stay on Earth. A challenge is to give my children the opportunity to see the world (not just Europe) and meet other cultures the way I have previously done.
My research is in autologous fat transplantation to breast after breast cancer surgery. Fat is harvested by liposuction and re-injected at the donor site. The method is used to treat adverse effects of or enhance the aesthetic result after surgery, radiotherapy and breast reconstruction.
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.
I agree with remote meeting participation in most cases
Environmental Science & Engineering — BS, MS, PhD
I have never flown, and won’t until renewably powered lighter-than-air or perhaps slightly-heavier-than-air flight becomes available. I’ve always figured it’s critical to start with myself in order to credibly advocate for changes for others.
Presently flying is roughly 10 times as energy intensive as driving, and our planet cannot even cope with all the driving. Plus most people on the planet do not have a choice; they will never be able to fly, and though good for the planet, that is simply unfair.
Long-time social change advocate. Did a study of driving subsidies in my area in the 1990s, the only such serious study done, to my knowledge, by someone without a car.
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 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.
My current carbon footprint (calculated by http://www.carbonzero.ca/calculate): I emit about 8 tonnes due to science-related travel (conferences and field work). This is equivalent to my CO2 emissions due to food and consumables, and my family’s CO2 emissions due to transportation and heating combined.
As I prefer to eat beef from time to time, I have chosen to reduce my scientific travel by contracting out field work to locals and communicating with scientists by phone/email/Skype. This is a personal choice.
I am a hydrologist. For some years now I have worked on reducing uncertainty in climate projections. This work is motivating, but seems to be asymmetric if I don’t actually reduce the projected changes themselves.
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’ve committed to abstain from “luxury travel” by air and instead find carbon-low alternatives — or not go at all. This will be my approach ’til that day technology and the condition of the climate has improved to the point that I can regard it as safe.
The decisions on abstinence we do today count more than to put trust on the solutions of tomorrow.
We can also do virtual conferences.
I’m trying to fly less but finding it hard to quit completely. My friends are mostly in the US; my family of origin in Europe; and my wife, her family, and our home in Thailand. One thing that would help is if there was a travel agent specializing in global low-fossil fuel travel. Not an eco-tour operator or eco-friendly vacation planner, but someone who actually knows how to arrange low-carbon, point-to-point travel. Failing that, a website that links to resources would still help. If you know of any, please let me know.
Try and have chosen to go by train when traveling in Europe. Worked out fine and got a lot of work done along the way. Abstain from flying to international conferences. Have tried to bring up the subject of trying to fly less at my workplace and will continue to do so without being too religious about it.
Do health service research on how to promote prevention and health promotion within dentistry.
I’m looking for as many ways as possible to directly contribute to reducing the total carbon emissions entering the atmosphere.
I started to work in academia six years ago. During my PhD, the traveling aspect of the job was very attractive to me. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change have become more and more obvious and devastating, and I realize that the carbon impact due to my work was far from being negligible.
Now I don’t want to fly any more, even if I had to make a flight recently for a one week project meeting far away from my place. As far as I can, I take other means of transportation, and in doing so my boring trips have been transformed into wonderful journeys.
We live in a finite world; we should be aware of it and scientists should be models.
PostDoc, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille
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.
Flying less will bring about sustainable development. It is environmentally friendly. It will help to reduce carbon footprint /emissions. It will help to protect the environment. It is economically viable. You will save money from transport cost, and invest it in other business.
It will help in social welfare, like people’s health — which will improve when there is clean air.
Government and industry should fund universities in areas of information and communication technology. This will enable them to organize online conference, workshops, and seminars. It will also help universities save paper, which will reduce deforestation.
I am a climate change expert. I am a sustainable development goals advocate volunteer. I am an agricultural economist. I am the President of the Climate Change Youth Club at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.
I live about an hour’s train ride from Oslo, Norway. I never fly for holiday or pleasure, but I have a daughter living in London. My biggest challenge right now is how to visit her when she gives birth next month – I have researched train routes and it will still take me two days on each side when I have only a week’s leave. I may fly this time to be there more days, but train and ferry in the summer.
I believe it is important, when we know the adverse affects, to act on it even when no one else is, and to talk about it. I was shocked when I learned how much more carbon a flight took than trains and ferries. The truth is, we do not have any carbon budget left (never did have, really) and the industry will not change unless we make them do so with our choices.
I teach high school and started a small initiative to train teachers in eco-literacy and nature appreciation called ‘The Small Earth Institute’. I give workshops, talks, school training and write on my blog- REAP: regenerative ecology as pedagogy. I presented at the IB (International Baccalaureate) world schools conference in October in Vienna on ‘Regenerative Design for Emergent Schools’ (and yes, I flew- ouch). From that has come an initiative with students and schools called HATCH: hubs for action toward climate health.
I’m a Frenchman working in the US. I have found a way to fly less (I setup a maximum limit of two trips to France a year) :
– I decide very early when I’ll be in France, and then I gather as many meetings as possible during this trip. Last November I stayed 28 days in France; I was free only one day and visited five different cities.
– I use a lot Visio, even if I have to wake up very early (as this morning to attend to a meeting at 3:30am for me). It’s exhausting, but less than traveling with time difference. When you are used to a Visio conference, it works really very well.
I mainly study on the effect of work organization on working conditions.
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).
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.
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.
Called the “real life Lorax” by National Geographic and the “Einstein of the treetops” by Wall Street Journal, Meg Lowman exudes a passion for trees and forest conservation. She is an author, explorer, scientist, arbornaut (translation: treetop explorer!), mom, and change-agent for conservation.
She has devoted over 3 decades to exploration and research on treetop secrets, as one of the first pioneers to launch the field of canopy science. Her research on trees takes her to many countries with relatively little scientific infrastructure, where she can make a difference and also mentor girls at every opportunity.
Lowman has published 8 books and over 140 peer-reviewed publications. Lowman has a BA in Biology, MSc in Ecology, PhD in Botany, and Executive Management certificate from Tuck School of Business. She has received myriad prizes including the Margaret Douglas Medal by the Garden Club of America, Roy Chapman Andrews Distinguished Explorer Award, Kilby Laureate, Odum Award for Excellence in Education, and Lowell Thomas Medal by the Explorers Club. Her current priorities include creating a UNESCO world heritage forest site in Malaysia and partnering with Ethiopia’s Coptic priests to save their last 5% remaining forests (that exist in church yards). She served as climate change advisor to the Florida cabinet, journalist at IPCC Cop15, and worked tirelessly on forest conservation to offset climate change.
She believes that senior scientists should not waste energy attending conferences, so is allocating her funds (and energy footprint) to students and young professionals. She does many virtual classroom lectures instead of flying to institutions, and hopes that virtual conferences will gain popularity with academics.
Meg Lowman is a forest ecologist and conservationist, having pioneered the science of canopy biology. She works tirelessly to conserve forests, especially in developing countries, and mentors girls in science wherever she works. She is passionate about mentoring girls and minorities in STEM.
It is very difficult to not fly from Israel since we are a sort of a political island. The only way to reach conferences is taking a boat to Cyprus or Greece and continuing from there. But I pledge to do so.
I am a nutritional and environmental epidemiologist. My research area is sustainable diets, the environmental cost of food and diet, health-environment-economy cost-benefit analyses and optimization, as well as food security, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and sustainable development.
I stopped flying for leisure purposes over 2.5 years ago as the reality of the rapidly diminishing carbon space became clearer to me. As a result I took a fascinating slow travel (three days each way) land and sea trip to eastern Greece instead. I made my last professional flight 18 months ago.
Working in international development my life has necessarily involved flying, as my core research area has been in East Africa. I am therefore now shifting my research focus to the social dynamics of achieving the energy transition in the UK.
My research in the international development field has been primarily on the ways low income people in developing countries manage their money, and how to provide them with effective financial services. This has mainly involved understanding the socio-economic and cultural dimensions of their money management strategies.
Well, I like to travel quite a lot for business and private reasons, and in Europe I try to take the train as much as possible. However, that is not always easy, especially for my next trip to Sweden. I wanted to go by train but since I am blind I need assistance to change trains and in Scandinavia, especially Denmark, this is anything but easy to accomplish. Thus I had to cancel my train and book a flight since they refused to assist me. This is not really helpful in trying to avoid CO2 emissions.
If people should travel more by public transport services, quality and punctuality has to improve, and governments have to support and promote public transport by investing in the infrastructure which is always costly and will not bring financial ROI. There are good approaches by e.g. the Swiss who let all students travel for free at certain times of the day, and thus teach them from early childhood on to use trains, and how comfortable it can be.
Especially with my latest experience in trying to take the train, it was very interesting to read about your initiative this morning in the newspaper. I will definitely follow your course from now on, and hope that we will see a change in attitude towards public transport.
Mr. Ginger Claassen
p.s.: Your website, especially the form fields, could use a bit improvement accessiblity-wise 🙂
I am working for a global operating corporation in the IT, electronic and electrical field as an accessibility engineer for over 20 years. Our goal is to shape the world digitally as well as physically to make it easier to use for older people and people with disabilities. We have been involved in many EC and nationally funded research projects in various fields e.g. autonomous public transport, navigation, etc. as well as designing trains, software, mobile applications, etc.
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.
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.
Stopped flying considering the number of aircraft in the air at any given moment. Since flying is optional for me, I decided to do my bit of conservation. I still believe that any flight I do not take reduces the revenue of at least one airline.
I do believe that the action of individuals will have a real impact.
Working on dental biomaterials development and evaluation.
Durability of materials and disease prevention are my primary areas of interest; secondary is working on diagnostic imaging.
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!
The issue of traveling is getting some audience in my lab, which is good news. However, it doesn’t solve the problem:
– a good share of my colleagues just cannot make the move to relate their personal activities to climate change; a common cognitive dissonance.
– those who are convinced are hampered in their will to travel less by the pressure that you describe very well, and just continue their business as usual.
Interestingly, I found it as difficult to convince the second group as the first one. The cost of deciding to travel less seems insurmountable.
An idea is to use social networks. I’m not too good a this, but I feel that spreading the word with Facebook, in a few months, that we commit not to go to AGU this year and encourage others to do likewise might be (or not) successful. What if AGU receives 10% less attendees?
I’m a research scientist, mostly working in the field of geodynamics. I’ve been in many labs, and now working at CNRS since 2006. I moved to Grenoble 5 years ago.
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 can only observe that, living in the UK, it would seem on the surface rather hard to get to the European continent for conferences etc. without air travel. The channel tunnel is at the other end of the country. However there are regular ferry services, e.g. Hull to Zeebrugge, Newcastle to Amsterdam, connecting into the European rail network, which I suspect people are not sufficiently aware of. Maybe universities need to offer better advice to their academics of non flying options.
Sadly failed to complete a PhD in simulating permafrost in Arctic peatlands.
I have visiting status at Leeds university where I am writing up papers from my PhD project’s loose ends. I am aiming to do sensitive analysis of medium complexity process based sphagnum peat model, using the JULES DGVM as a framework. The Sphagnum model on its own, is in review with a journal, and I’m working on more. I actually love the academic freedom I get from working like this. I work part time as a math lecturer in a 16+ college to make ends meet, and finding time to complete my research is really tricky. I also have two young children and a lovely caring wife.
I own a campsite, I go camping on my holidays.
As sustainable life mentors with acute environmental sensitivities, we happen to care deeply about the Earth and the future of life here on our wonderful planet – the place we all call home.
We are a family of three and we do not own any motorized vehicle; our feet take us most places we need to go, public transportation takes care of the rest, and we happen to live in the countryside! As a couple and later with our daughter, we have flown a total of seven times in the past dozen years. It just so happened that Roland contributed to reforesting Scotland in 2014-15, by planting 14,000 trees on an organic farm, a fact which could make us feel a bit more lax with flying, yet it doesn’t.
What’s more, as an integral part of our sustainable life design business based in Maramureș County, northern Romania, we offer carbon offsetting in a unique scheme, to individuals with single memorial tree requests or small businesses soliciting a few thousand native specimens to be planted. We are discerning in who we work with as to discourage greenwashing.
We realize ground travel is more costly and also takes more pre-planning as a rule. However this is precisely our aim to support, along with demanding that renewable energy be extensively integrated into the public transportation network, especially in regions of the world with high degrees of international cooperation, like our home the European Union, for instance.
Cheryl and Roland have been living a life inspired by ecological minimalism for more than a decade, as such, they are passing down values of homesteading, foraging, handcrafting and self-reliance to their home-schooled daughter. Choosing to work from home (and avoid the commute!) they mentor families and small businesses in the online world, helping them to make – and act upon – sustainable choices that are necessary to combat climate change.
The only time I will have ever flown will be for a vacation to Europe after fundraising for years, and I hope to make it my last.
The sights on the ground are stunning, and the down-to-earth nature helps my mood. Travel times may be long, but the trip can be enjoyable if you work to make it so.
Have fought to make large professional organizations in my field more sustainable.
Board member, The International Environmental Communication Association – http://theieca.org
Former Board member, International Association for Media and Communication Research – http://IAMCR.org
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.
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.
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 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.
When I realized research activity is not neutral — it has an environmental cost that Earth inhabitants (human and non-human) have to pay — I gradually reduced the number of trips. With colleagues we also started to raise the topic, and we tried to estimate the carbon footprint of our lab — it is quite impressive! We think every research institution should publish its carbon footprint due to travel, but also to computing and the use of other infrastructures, to heating and cooling the buildings etc…
We have to ask ourselves, what is the use of all the knowledge we are accumulating if we are not able to save life on Earth? If there is nobody left on Earth to have any interest in our great discoveries in a few decades, what is the meaning of it all?
I work in astrophysics on the study of distant galaxies.
With my partner, my friends, and my family scattered around Europe, it is not an easy decision to cut flying. But flying is often the single most polluting thing we do – way overshooting anyone’s ideal annual carbon budget!
I’ve rediscovered night trains, working remotely for a few days, and learned to appreciate where I am, instead of always longing for where I’m not.
I’m an evolutionary biologist, using mathematical models to understand the evolution of sex! Yes, sex: why do most non-bacterial organisms need to be two to make babies? That’s not very efficient, and hence it’s been a question keeping biologists busy for a while!
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.
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.
I have not flown since 1990 and my wife since 1980, and neither of us feel any the poorer for it.
Why not allow this to appreciate the landscape and history of your own country and local area more deeply?
I live in Chile, and any plane travel to the Northern Hemisphere has a large ecological footprint.
I learned the concept of non-negotiable habits, and I think that one, especially as a scientist, should aim to reduce significantly the annual flying kilometers if it’s not possible to eliminate flying. That would be of great help.
Set yourself a target to reduce your personal ecological footprint from your scientific agenda.
I work in silviculture of temperate rainforests in Chile, and promote a type of silviculture and forest management that aims to increase diversity, complexity, resilience, and adaptive capacity of the managed forests. Attaining these objectives is compatible with also having forests that can sustain the provision of varied and valuable timber.
In addition, I participate continuously in the debates about policies for a sustainable forest sector in Chile.
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.
I have been trying to travel by land and sea, rather than air, for twenty years or more, as well as never owning a car and using one only very occasionally. Of course it is hard, when you live on an island and every foreign conference requires some kind of sea crossing. Many ferry routes have closed and it’s now difficult to get even to Scandinavia, for instance. The main problems I find are the time it takes and how expensive it is (journeys that take 48 hours can consume the whole of a research allowance in one trip).
I value travel for the direct personal acquaintance and convivial sharing of research, which can’t be replaced by remote video-links.
I work in Ancient Philosophy, including research on Plato’s ideas about an ideal society (and his discussion of the perverse incentives in current monetary-based economies).
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 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’m aiming at reducing my flying as much as possible. First priority is train, bus, car, ferry etc. However, I’m still flying as part of work-related activities, e.g. to destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa.
My research focuses on Developing Country Firms, CSR, Upgrading and Linkages. A special focus is on SMEs. Sector-wise, I have in particular worked in garment, food processing and tourism.
Researching climate policy, I became more and more aware of the fact that even people who are very well informed about climate change, and its causes and consequences, do not change their lifestyle towards more sustainability. At the same time, we know that integral behavior can often have more impact on others’ behavior than more detailed knowledge or convincing speeches.
That’s why I decided that I don’t want to fly any more – neither for work nor in my leisure time. Especially when wanting to attend international conferences this can sometimes be hard, but so far it’s worked quite well for me.
I am a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Tübingen, Germany. My research focus is transnational municipal networks in climate policies. I am especially focusing on the knowledge these networks produce and provide.
The time has come to stick to one’s principles. As a sustainability student I believe that I, along with other sustainability scientists and scientists from all related sciences, should lead by example.
What concerns me most at the moment is that a return trip by plane from Copenhagen to London (about 2 hours traveling time one way) costs 40 €, and ONE WAY by train from Lund to London (about 20 hours traveling time) costs 420 €.
B. Sc. Biotechnology
I still fly to visit my very old mother 7 hours away.
I have stopped flying for conferences or holidays.
I love traveling but it can’t be justified.
When invited to a conference, I now offer a video session – or, more reluctantly, to join live (energy demands are also high). This not only is a polite answer, it also sets the organisers thinking (a bit).
Trained as meteorologist, I worked on air pollution models first and later on climate change issues — mainly down-scaling problems.
In the last few years I have been active in Education for Sustainable Development. I have initiated the Climate Change Center Austria as well as the Alliance for Sustainable Universities in Austria and, recently, a project to involve Austrian Universities in the Sustainable Development Goals (uniNeTZ).
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.
After 20 years in the oil & gas industry, I am now working to undo the damage.
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!
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 am trying to fly less because my research primarily focuses on the disproportionate impacts faced in developing countries and communities with high levels of poverty that have contributed very little to climate change. Generally, for personal travel I have been able to take the bus or train to avoid a flight, but for travel to conferences and for work it has been a greater challenge. University reimbursements often will not cover train or bus travel, especially abroad.
My research focuses on climate justice issues in historically marginalized communities in the U.S. and Mexico.
I’m a reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia and chair of the environmental think tank, Green House. As an academic specialising in Wittgenstein, there are many international conferences that are part of my job to attend. Over the last decade I have made increasing efforts to fly only as a last resort. Last summer I traveled across Europe by train to give talks in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. During this trip I also video-called into a conference in Canada where I was invited to give a talk.
To avoid flying as a philosophy academic we need a culture shift towards video conferencing. I’m always surprised at both how open conference organisers are to hosting me via video, and at how few of them have considered sending video rather than in-person invitations. Hopefully initiatives like this will raise awareness.
I have published extensively on Wittgenstein, philosophy and film, and ecological philosophy. For a fuller list of publications see my ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rupert_Read
I taught environmental science as an adjunct for about 10 years, bicycling from school to school. Now, I am part of a program in Sustainability Science and Engineering.
This teaching experience has improved my own awareness of my effects on climate change. This included realizing my life in Taiwan was possibly sustainable, but each flight to the USA to see family added an entire planet to my ecological footprint. I still fly, as it is the only way, but try to limit it to once a year. I feel it’s important to practice what I preach as best I can.
My degree is in ecology and evolutionary biology, but my field work on one of Taiwan’s endemic birds had a strong conservation emphasis. During this time, I have also been accepted as part of a family in a tribe indigenous to Taiwan. This relationship has taught me the changes and loss of resilience that occur as the family tries to integrate into the dominant culture.
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.
My professor inspires me to fly less. He takes the train to basically any destination within Europe. It is often possible and less difficult than one would imagine. Therefore, I try to do the same. He supports my traveling by train even if it is more expensive than going by plane. I feel very privileged and grateful for that.
I haven’t had to travel outside Europe for my career so far, but I would fly if it was necessary for a very select occasion. The topic is very close to my heart, and I try to align my personal choices with my knowledge about global warming.
However, it is important to note that policy decisions are the main tool to ensure an effective response to the climate crisis. How we vote and engage in the community politically is at least as important as personal choices.
On a small scale, I would like to see changes in how mobility is managed; trains should be way cheaper than planes. On a larger scale, I hope the global community realizes the dire need for action in time.
I work on the genetic basis of complex traits, taking a statistical approach. I’m especially interested in evolve and re-sequence experiment data and what it reveals about the response to selection.
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.
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 quit flying many, many years ago and have been suggesting that others fly less ever since. Words to that effect fall on mostly deaf ears.
My sincere belief is that global warming is intentional. I choose to believe this because it is less disappointing and ridiculous than to believe humans are too foolish and numb to take care and quit polluting our only home.
Organic gardener in the flight path.
I have flown more miles than most people, and I am happy to find a great excuse not to fly more.
I led the NOAA CalCOFI (California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations) program at Southwest Fisheries Science Center for 11 years, retiring and returning to New Zealand in 2018.
In Europe, there’s so much you can do using night trains. Since COP24 more sure than ever to carry on.
Franziska Tanneberger is a Postdoc researcher at the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology at Greifswald University and co-director of the Greifswald Mire Centre, Germany. She works on fen mire ecology and biodiversity, paludiculture, and peatland restoration, particularly within carbon schemes. She has contributed to various mire research and conservation projects in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Romania.
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’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 have all but stopped taking vacations that require flying, in large part because of the carbon footprint but also because airline travel is so unpleasant. There are plenty of places nearby that are good for vacations.
Also, I have cut down on going to conferences that require flying, and when I do go to conferences they are on the west coast were I can drive or take the train.
I worked on the reproductive biology of marine invertebrates, primarily echinoderms. In the past I’ve worked in the Antarctic and tropical Pacific, as well in the kelp forests of California, but now I work on the coast of California, mainly taking high school students out to monitor life in the rocky intertidal.
I publicly stated in my Christmas card two years ago that I was not going to fly that summer. I was watching my carbon footprint.
I am a person of faith.
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.
For many academics, flying has seemingly become a comfortable excuse to travel, socialise and escape the office environment for a while. The question is whether flying across the world to present a paper for 20 minutes will actually benefit the research much.
I hope that the academic community will develop and use existing technology to enhance communication and academic exchange without physically having to attend all conferences and meetings in person. Traveling should be reserved for when it is necessary and clearly beneficial.
Conducting and assisting research on the internationalisation of higher education and international student mobility.
I am a wildlife biologist by training, currently working for the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (USGS). At my center, we are trying to raise awareness among our colleagues about how much carbon is being emitted through our work travel and develop alternatives to flying or driving long distances for meetings.
My research focuses on population dynamics of at-risk species.
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
Changing jobs from a hi-tech small company to academia slashed my travel by two-thirds. Being from a small country in Central Europe, with rail infrastructure leaving much to be desired, traveling by train is challenging. Time spent in airports and on planes is lost time (even if I manage to work).
I am working on measurement methods for aerosol absorption (black and brown carbon, dust mainly). Black carbon is the second climate warming agent (after CO2), but its lifetime in the atmosphere is very short.
I take trains as much as possible within Europe, up to 12-14 hour trips, and I try to travel intercontinentally only in exceptional cases.
With my current research I aim to predict how different terrestrial ecosystems actively respond to global environmental change. I focus mostly on plant ecosystems in drylands, savannas and Mediterranean forests. I am interested in studying the complex ecosystem dynamics emerging from plant-plant and plant-environment interactions.
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.
Ever since 9/11, I have limited my flying worldwide. It was a moment of change in my life.
Prior to this event, I flew to my home country every year, sometimes twice, travelling more than 10,000 miles each way. It was an exhilarating experience each time I dove into the Pacific Ocean to revisit my beloved coral reefs. I spend most of my waking moments in the company of butterfly fish, angel fish, lion fish, sharks, turtles, and the countless organisms beyond my ability to see. I came back to New York City ready to conquer whatever came my way.
I was in NYC when on Sept. 11, 2001 when the attack took place. I was pregnant with my daughter and my thoughts at the time was that of fight or flight. We left on Sept. 13 and drove to Santa Fe. She was born here, and here we have landed.
I have not been back in the ocean since. It is a privilege, yes, and I miss the country that I love. But I know that lowering my carbon footprint means saving the ecosystem I treasure and adore.
I am now a high school science teacher at the Santa Fe Indian School. I no longer do research or publish.
I have not flown for professional reasons for over a decade. Although this has certainly hurt my career, I felt the change was necessary to try to limit the damage of climate change. I have been lucky enough to work in some amazing, remote wild places, and it is very painful to think of their disappearance. In fact, some of them already have. I still fly across the continent for my mother, for now. We need to change how early-career scientists are expected to develop their contacts and opportunities, and how we share information and communicate with each other to make air travel a thing of the past.
I have been a wildlife ecologist for 30 years. I have studied organisms of all sorts, from banana slugs to voles and birds to turtles, and I have a background in toxicology and pesticides. I conduct primary research, write syntheses, and develop conservation plans.
Used to fly a lot 5 – 10 years ago, not fully aware of the impact. Crazy schedules. From Europe, 3 days visit to Vancouver, 3 days to Vietnam. Used to shorten the visit to 2-3 days to avoid double jet lag. Crazy.
Reduced to only long trips five years ago (6-month visits to the US instead of lots of 1-week visits), mainly for family reasons at that time (everybody comes, flying for a couple of months and nice adventures).
Since the last year and a half – stopped flying. Hard to explain this to colleagues somehow, to refuse invitations to 15+ conferences. A nice part of the job disappears.
Still looking for the right balance. I will at some point take a Europe-US or Europe-Asia flight but for a long stay (6 months +). Need to find a clear set of rules…still looking for it.
Now rediscovering the slow travel experiences. We choose academia to manage our time and thinking, if we cannot travel slowly, who can?
Research on stochastic control and machine learning for economic applications.
I pledge to not fly for work or holidays. I am very happy to find this website as it will strengthen my argument when I tell this to my supervisor!
In September I will make a 48-hour round trip by train to attend a conference in Poland. So it’s completely possible.
There is evidence to suggest that flying to conferences far away does little to boost your career or research impact long term.
PhD candidate with a broad interest in the opportunities provided in the remediation of contaminated land. Currently researching the impact of drinking water treatment sludge on the bioavailability of lead and cadmium.
University of Strathclyde, Scotland; civil and environmental engineering department.
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.
Although I’m not a published scientist I’ve made it a habit to offset my flights (which are few and mostly vacations) by not having a car where I travel and choosing to walk or take public transit. Given the fact that Uber and Lyft make up for any savings, I just find it disturbing. I thought I’d join your group to at least stay informed and be active to help if I can.
I used to fly a lot to visit family and to go on vacation, however, for climate and financial benefits, I will be flying less. I want to limit myself to one flight a year, possibly on standby so I’m not creating more demand.
I am an environmental studies student who wants to work in community sustainability, and not limiting my flying would be highly hypocritical.
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.
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 have not flown for personal reasons since 2007. My business trips in Europe are always by train, ferry or buses. I tend to fly overseas once every two years for a project. I am trying to always involve training in overseas projects, so that there is no need to go back again to the same place.
There are alternatives to flying even for long distance work travel, e.g. Southampton-New York ferry or Transiberian trains.
Physical oceanography, esoecially measurements and analysis of currents and waves applied to the tidal stream and wave energy sectors.
R&D projects on turbulence characterisation using 7- or 8- beam ADCPs.
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’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 feel increasingly uncomfortable with flying, for work and privately. Many conferences in Europe can be visited by train, but it would help if they were organized in central places, easy to reach. I commute by train, and for other travels and my partner’s work we bought an electric car.
From our experience, charging stations are insufficiently available and this is especially a challenge during longer travels. We need to figure out new ways of connection and that includes sharing with colleagues across the globe without having to travel, and traveling with a minimum of flights.
I work on gender and diversity issues in public health and medical education. Climate change is a main factor for global inequalities and has a severe impact on health — in particular the poorer population, more so women and children. We are developing a minor Global Health Amsterdam which needs to incorporate climate change and its relation to health and health inequities.
I have stopped flying for quite a few years now. Before 2000 I lived in New Zealand for five years, so have done some long hauls in the past between NZ and the UK. I enjoy train and boat trips and find that the longer the journey the more I wind down from normal busy life when I go away; the journey is part of the trip not just a means to and end.
I’m traveling to Dublin in June and am a little frustrated at the cost of the train and boat versus a flight, but can’t bring myself to fly anymore. One small stand I have decided to make.
My research work is in recovery for addictions and the implementation of addiction services. There are some parallels between addiction and climate change denial; a crisis point often needs to be reached before change, sometimes change comes too late.
I stopped flying in 2008, and I bring this up in my negotiations for any new position I take. I’ve missed an opportunity to present a paper in Germany, but I have gained credibility with my students when I teach climate justice.
Not flying is part of a set of commitments I’ve made including eating a less processed, plant-based diet, not having biological children, and opting out of disposable culture.
Sasha Adkins found their way to environmental health through a circuitous path that involved apprenticing with homebirth midwives, developing a health program for migrant farm workers, and working on HIV-prevention with a small AIDS service organization. Along the way, they became fascinated with plastics and their influence on the surrounding environments and people.
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.
My last flight was in 2015. I have stopped flying for personal and professional purposes. I am quite happy with this decision: I do not have to face airports, which are quite sad places – symbols of our over-consumption and luxury. And my carbon footprint probably dropped by a factor of 4 or so.
Since then, I’ve had to refuse many invitations for international conferences…well, people will have to read my articles… and I will have to read theirs. Literature is already so rich and full of interesting data; I do not think I really miss important things. Sometimes I take the train to go to nearby countries so the “network” of researchers I know personally has and will shrink… not a big deal though. I really think we can stop flying and do some good research anyhow.
I work on the use of magnetic nanoparticles for applications in cancerology, catalysis and imagery. I am starting to work on the sustainability of technical systems.
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 haven’t flown for over a decade, and run several business and community networks to inspire change. I am fed up with feeling I am breaking social rules and fed up with having to tolerate others flying as if not flying is the problem. I set up a FB page (8 billion reasons why I’m on the ground for good) to start what you’re doing. Power to your elbow!
Network developer, social entrepreneur, lecturer, student, mother, facilitator.
Although I still have to fly once or twice a year, I take the train at any other occasion. My travel experiences are mostly very positive and the responses by many colleagues are often quite encouraging. However, many still find excuses for flying.
I’m a historian of Early Christianity and Greco-Roman Antiquity, and professor at the faculty for Protestant Theology at Univ. of Vienna.
I have not flown since 2006 – I can’t understand why career environmentalists don’t make similar commitments.
If the carbon footprint of flying could be reduced (electric planes?) then I would think about flying again.
It does help that I don’t enjoy it either.
Future We Want is a sustainability consultancy that focuses on delivering climate learning and engagement that’s fun.
Our carbon footprint game is modeled on Prof Mike Berners-Lee’s ‘How Bad are Bananas?’ book and helps anyone to connect with the real carbon impact of their everyday activities.
Since my term on the Board of Directors of the American Physical Society ends in December, I can now sign on to ‘No Fly’ in good conscience. The board required 5 to 6 in-person meetings per year, supplemented by many virtual meetings.
I look forward to generating fewer carbon emissions. I will still be flying, but less frequently and with the conscious aim of reducing emissions by combining visits.
Brad Marston joined the Brown Physics Department in 1991. A graduate of Caltech, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989. He did postdoctoral work at Cornell University, and has been a visiting professor at MIT and ENS Lyon, a visiting associate at Caltech, and a general member of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UCSB.
Brad’s research combines theoretical and climate physics.
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)
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.
As an ethnoecologist, my science focuses on the connections between biological and cultural diversity, or “biocultural diversity.” Climate change is the #1 threat to biocultural diversity.
I cannot live my life without mitigating that threat with every choice I make: what I buy, eat, and wear, how I travel, and what (if anything) I waste. I stopped getting on airplanes over a decade ago because of the enormous carbon footprint.
See my YouTube video: “University Science Professor Decides To Live Carbon Neutral In A Shuttle Bus”
If we continue doing business as usual we will reach a climate breakdown in ways we can’t even foresee. After reading the IPCC SR 1.5 it became impossible for me to continue coping with my cognitive dissonance regarding climate change. I had to act. I wanted the world to change. Sound the alarm, drive the change.
It’s not easy, and you quickly become a modern day Cassandra. The best way to deal with this is to be the change. Scientists do have the responsibility to lead by example and walk the talk. Every little action counts. Committing to fly less is one of the most impactful changes individuals can make on their carbon footprint and it’s thrilling to be a part of it.
I have a PhD in plant physiology and long-standing systems biology experience in the study of environmental stress responses of plants and microalgae. I have been an associate professor at UPEC (Paris, France) since 2005 and an adjunct researcher at IBENS (Paris, France) since 2016. I spent four years working at the Rockefeller University (NY, USA), as a Marie Curie fellow from 2012-2015 and as adjunct faculty from 2015-2016.
“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 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
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.
We cannot change the world, but we can change the smaller world around us.
I am interested in education and transformation, doing theatre of the oppressed, teaching, and researching.
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.
Conferences are in flashy places to attract scientists to participate and pay increasingly higher registration fees, often higher than the air fare.
This made me think that this is actually upside down, and ultimately not sustainable with more and more scientists going on these pilgrimages. We all know how to cooperate with colleagues at far away locations, and I think that we are quite efficient at that. So remotely joining a conference should be a more viable option. Also, I will only go to conferences close to Washington, DC.
Recently have been studying the effects of sub-lethal doses of pesticides on the cognitive abilities of honeybees.
I have taken one flight in the last 11 years. I decided to avoid flying as I believe the recent culture of cheap air transport is massively detrimental to the environment and I don’t want to be part of that culture. I think we all have a responsibility to make sacrifices and to boycott where we can, in order to halt the runaway growth of the “fly everywhere” culture. I am actually taking a flight this summer (to take my children abroad on a special family holiday) – this will be their first time on a plane (aged 11 and 9). After this holiday, I plan to return to minimal/no flights.
Heard Peter Kalmus speak on Vancouver Island a couple of years ago. I am switching to a carbon neutral lifestyle. Driving electric and stopping flying is part of it.
Work with disabled.
I’m taking my holidays just before or after my conferences, and using most of them to travel there, mainly by train.
The travel is also used to do my research work in math.
Many difficulties, especially to get refunded when you have so many different tickets, and such weird dates.
Since travel sometimes include holidays, I don’t really care about being refunded each time.
Some problems at ground borders, where Customs is less used to some kinds of visas/authorizations than in airports.
Also, I refused some invitations to participate in conferences, when they were far and I could not stay there longer. I’m starting to be understood by some colleagues.
I’m a researcher in computer science in a math lab.
I work on links between the theories of computing and of dynamical systems.
It’s mainly theoretical, so I can work anywhere (including train, holidays).
My research is quite influenced by interactions with many different people from different countries, including Chile (could not avoid plane, but refused many invitations there), or Finland (always got there through train/bus/boat).
When I first started to learn about the climate crisis, I took steps to reduce my carbon footprint such as becoming vegan, driving less, recycling more, and trying to buy second hand as much as possible. I had not considered stopping flying until I met my partner, who has been avoiding flying for years.
Flying has become ingrained in our society and is not promoted enough as a way to reduce emissions. I try now to raise awareness with my friends and family, but it feels like most people don’t want to accept the reality that flying is a luxury which is massively contributing to climate change. I now do not fly and also realise how much more enjoyable travel by bicycle or train is.
The issue of flying is part of how our society operates today and so we cannot simply reduce it overnight. We must address other new cultural norms, and one I feel particularly strongly about is slowing our lives down and appreciating the process of moving from one location to another. I recently went on holiday in Spain by train from the UK, and the journey became part of the holiday itself.
I am studying for an MSc in Climate Change and I am completing my dissertation on the relationship between wind power output, electricity demand and weather patterns in the United Kingdom. I will be working at ScottishPower Renewables as a wind turbine engineer from September 2019.
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.
I think that flying less is part of the global warming solution, and is important.
We’re working on a software platform to provide a “visual overview” of climate change technology to improve collaboration. As collaboration is often practised through physical conferences, we see a huge role in using our technology to expedite collaboration while avoiding the carbon footprint of conventional conference-based collaboration.
For two years I refused to fly, and only went to conferences and meetings within ground or sea transport range. Now I use Skype as much as possible, and when I have to fly I try and chunk together meetings with trains and ferries whenever I can. I do not take flights within a country at all.
Not only is it ecologically more sensible, but I suffer less from circulation problems, backaches, and anxiety.
I run a not-for-profit biobank for the model organism arabidopsis. We support research all over the world via materials and databases. We were a pioneer in open access transcriptomics from the turn of the century, and have long been advocates for open source data and FAIR principles (before they had an acronym).
I am regularly invited to present papers or keynotes at international conferences. I also have to travel for business. Lastly, my family lives in Germany. I am now declining many invites to reduce my footprint or encourage that the conference be held on-line. I was once pleased to be upgraded as an elite frequent flyer. This has changed to a feeling of achievement when my frequent flier privileges are being canceled.
This means I am away from home less, which is beneficial to my family life. As I am regarded as a leader in my company I believe/have hope that my actions may inspire others. I cannot stop flying, as this would mean no longer seeing my family. However, no longer flying with them to warm locations in winter and having reduced my business-related flying has led to a significant reduction of my family’s CO2 footprint.
I am geomorphologist by training and have worked on applied research aspects in the fields of landslides, floods and periglacial environments.
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.
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.
We drive to Europe each year, taking a ferry and traveling throughout the UK by train where possible. I have not flown since 2017, and believe that travel is worse for the environment than meat.
I have minimized flying for the last 20 years. Flying not only adds CO2 to the atmosphere, but alters the cloud cover, particularly altering the ground radiation at night.
It mostly sets a good example, little more.
Involved in independent research into sustainable energy solutions, mostly low-grade waste heat — geothermal, solar etc.
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 stopped flying long-haul more than ten years ago when I realised the effect it had on my carbon footprint. Within Europe I try to keep the number of flights I make to a handful each year, but work schedules at a consultancy with international clients don’t always permit it.
The main challenge is just being clear with clients and colleagues that I don’t fly long-haul–that it’s an absolute commitment, not a nice-to-have. (I once had an amiable conversation that said, if it’s a business requirement that I do trans-continental work, then I will have to leave the business).
People understand the environmental argument, but often the ethical environment has more impact on them: that the people who get the benefit of an accelerated lifestyle are not the same people who will lose their homes and livelihoods first as a result of
climate change impacts.
A consulting futurist based in London.
I left academia in 2005 to become a consultant working on climate change and development issues. This involves a lot of work in developing countries, and this usually means a lot of flying. It’s easy to say that the flying is justified because you’re helping developing countries that are mostly low emitters to adapt to the impacts of climate change caused mostly by rich nations. But the hypocrisy and absurdity of flying to address climate change is difficult to ignore.
Over the years, I’ve become increasingly sceptical about the good that I’m doing. A lot of projects are not sustained once funding dries up; lots of work is little more than box ticking; increasingly climate change ‘action’ is being co-opted to support unsustainable business as usual; and the organisations I work for seem unable to address the problem of flying for meetings that are often of limited value or could be held remotely.
So, enough. I may still fly if I think the work will do some good and can’t be done otherwise, but every time I’m asked to fly I will make a point of questioning it. And I will say no as often as I can.
In my day-job I undertake research related to adaptation, its implementation and evaluation. As part of my academic work as a visiting fellow at UEA, I conduct research into past adaptation as evident in archaeological and palaeo-environmental records, and worked extensively in the Sahara. My PhD was in atmospheric feedbacks affecting drought in the Sahel, and some of my postdoc work involved remote sensing and geomorphology.
As an academic with a focus on children and young people, I am conscious both of the need to take every possible action to address the climate crisis but also of the pressure within the academy to travel to international conferences. I flew three times last year but have recently pledged to fly less, and don’t intend to fly again this year.
I have initiated a conversation in my workplace about flying less.
I am a lecturer in Equality Studies with a particular interest in childhood inequality.
I still fly, but have become concerned. Modern academic life demands and rewards mobility and international networking. Both are good things by themselves, but could be achieved also with a smaller carbon footprint. I commit myself to first flying less, and to exploring pathways towards carbon-neutral academic life.
I’m a historian, mainly written about the 20th century in northeastern Europe: Finland, Germany, the interwar period, policing, fascism and the Holocaust.
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.
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.
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.
I fly less because of the environmental impact of long-haul aviation. I have had all sorts of reactions to my decision not to fly; some have been supportive, but most are either disinterested or sceptical.
I don’t know how we can shift our frequent flying culture without economic disincentives for flying. At the moment it seems to be getting cheaper and easier.
Author and Fitness Instructor based in London, U.K.
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.
Flying less is just necessary. I have not taken any plane since 2016.
I grew up in California, where virtually all of my family and friends still live. For the past 7 years I have been studying mathematics and climate science on the East Coast.
For my first few years living on the East Coast I would make two transcontinental flights (one during the winter holidays and one in August), which dominated my carbon footprint. Since beginning graduate school I have been consolidating trips back home and academic travel into a single flight per year. This past year I combined a visit to collaborators at Caltech, a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco with friends, a meeting with a collaborator in San Francisco, and a short stay with my family in San Francisco. I plan to similarly consolidate my travel next year by combining a family visit, attendance at the American Geophysical Union Conference, and a backpacking trip along the California Coast.
My PhD dissertation is about what drives currents at the bottom of the ocean, and how these currents affect Earth’s climate. I also study how skillful climate models are at making projections of future climate.
I am also founder of ClimateGamers (formerly ClimateFortnite), a project that brings climate science communication to the online gaming community.
I flew to Italy in August 2018 for a family vacation with my wife and teenage boys (what I planned would be the last big family trip before the boys soon head off to university) and, upon my return, became depressed again…for being a hypocrite…for if someone as desperately concerned about our climate crisis as I am flies, then how can we possibly hope to convince those who are oblivious or docile, those who have been propagandized into the American dream (of infinite growth on a finite planet)?
So, I plan to fly only for funerals…there’s plenty of my own country that I have not yet seen, and if I can’t get there by train or bike then a car will have to do.
I am part of a team trying to reduce the carbon footprint of Colorado State University to zero by 2050 (including 100% renewable energy by 2030).
University-funded air travel is the third largest component of our footprint (electricity & natural gas are 1 and 2). We are working on a program to reduce and offset air travel, and would love to hear ideas and language that we can share with our campus community to help in this effort.
Not a researcher – a facilities engineer/sustainability professional at a large land grant university working to reduce our footprint.
The magnitude of the necessary reduction in emissions we have to do is such that we can’t afford to fly as much as we used to do. Even though conferences might be less fun if we make them online rather than in person, we have to make that sacrifice.
Researcher in evolutionary genomics.
I haven’t flown in (I’d say) 20+ years. Cannot remember the last time I was in an airplane. My reasoning for not flying relates to comfort, not climate issues. With aging, my butt got bigger and the airline seats smaller. So I have have been taking Amtrak on my jaunts around the US. I rode Amtrak from Buffalo to Denver and back last September and will do another Amtrak trip to Oakland Ca next September.
My wife and I bought a Chevy Bolt last year and love it. Looking forward to the time I can drive it across Upstate NY between Buffalo and Albany, a distance of 290 miles. Not sure when level 3 fast charging — so necessary for long distance BEV driving — will happen in Upstate NY because most of the rest stops along the NY State Thruway are leased to oil companies (Sunoco or Exxon-Mobil). A couple of level 3 chargers are being built, but exiting the Thruway will be necessary to charge up. But the Bolt does fine for my driving around the Western part of NY State. I’m looking forward to the Tesla Model Y, driving – assistance, and a functioning fast charging network.
I wish I could say I was sensitive to climate issues in the 1990’s. Being overweight seems to have reduced my CO2 footprint. I hope my appetite did not negate any carbon savings gained from airplane avoidance.
Worked on mechanotransducing ion channels in glial cells. PhD Thesis: directly measured the membrane potential of mitochondria — it’s on the order of a few mV.
Currently doing environmental advocacy as co-chair of the Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center.
Not always easy to fly less, the academic system and administration is often not helping. Obligatory travel offices tend to prefer offering flights instead of trains (although that’s changing due to university policy) and an interesting research stay abroad is not always within train distance.
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Research[x]Design group at KU Leuven. My current research focuses on how space can contribute to activating end-users. I am also interested in how designers, clients, and other actors in healthcare can gain insight into people’s experience.
I have always avoided flying when there was an easy alternative, for example a quick and hassle-free train journey (direct train from the Netherlands to many cities in Germany, Belgium, & France). I did this partly for environmental reasons, partly because I like traveling by train much more (you can read a book, do some work, and have a better feel for the distance you travel). Recently, I realised that I was still flying quite a lot, especially after moving from the Netherlands to the UK where train travel to places in Europe for conferences and meetings is just that bit more complicated because you have to cross the Channel, which means changing trains, train companies and even stations a few times.
As I couldn’t convince myself why I was not taking the train when the journey would be a tad longer or more cumbersome, I decided I would up my efforts of finding alternatives for flying to meetings or conferences within Europe. I have since used trains, ferries and cars more often, and found out that the extra time is not a problem for me and the extra hassle isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I still fly to project fieldwork in Africa or Latin America, but also try to reduce flying to other continents only for meetings and use video-conferencing instead. I think a combined effort is needed, including personal changes, institutional changes, and (inter)national policy changes. I think sharing experiences about #flyingless is an important step.
I’m a hydrologist interested in the relationship between water, people and the environment. My research focuses on hydrological extremes (droughts and floods) and uses interdisciplinary methods to understand hydrological processes and their interaction with human activities.
To reduce the risk of climate change we have to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels. It does not make sense to wait personally for the government to force me if I already believe these changes are necessary. I quit flying for work years ago, although I experienced the benefits of meeting people face to face at international workshops.
We need more radical changes and we need examples. Practice as you preach. How can I teach about environmental ethics and individual responsibility if I do not take it seriously myself? Compensating emissions from inevitable flights is a good idea, but it should not determine your choice to fly itself. Doing something good does not cancel doing something bad.
I perform research and I teach at the crossroad of ethics, economics and the environment. Mostly working at the University of Amsterdam and one day a week at Maastricht University.
I have worked across Europe for Climate-KIC (‘knowledge innovation community’, www.climate-kic.org) for eight years, and have done over 90% of it by train. I’ve resolved not to fly at all in 2019.
Traveling to conferences by train is surprisingly fun!
I’m interested in which (neural and cognitive) processes enable humans to act sustainable or altruistic, and why they sometimes fail to act in accordance with their intentions (e.g. why they use their car even though they wanted to go by bike or public transport).
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.
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.
Ten years ago a group of academics analyzed our carbon footprint and found that we were among the worst offenders. In the last five years I have reduced my flying to zero intercontinental flights and one intracontinental per year, and I aim to reduce that by 50% again.
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 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.
At this time of history, the only possibility for a climate scientist to keep credibility is to become part of the solution, by reducing the personal carbon footprint and inspiring more people to do the same.
I’m convinced that only a bottom up approach can let us overcome our technological infancy and its fossil fuel addiction.
Flying represents the largest portion of my carbon fingerprint. Unfortunately, there is no way I can completely stop flying as my field work activities require traveling to remote areas around the world.
In addition, while I now reside in the US, my parents still live in Europe and, as they get older, I need to be ready to fly back at any time.
However, I can reduce my flights to travel to climate conferences and my vacations. I feel this is an ethical imperative for a climate scientist: today we must have skin in the game. No excuse.
My primary interest is in the geochemical study of ice cores with emphasis on paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstructions, from seasonal to orbital time scale (100,000 years). Over the years I have developed a program with a special focus on trace element geochemical cycles and their relation to past environmental changes, such as variations in climatic conditions and large-scale atmospheric transport. I have participated to 11 major field programs in Antarctica, European Alps, Peru, Papua and the Tibetan plateau.
I have not flown since 2011, and the last flights I took were taken reluctantly. I had set off from London to travel back to NZ by surface transport only, but I ended up getting stuck in Iran and having to fly over Pakistan to India.
After 2 months of seeing India and Nepal by bicycle, I again found I was unable to make any onward progress by surface transport. Well, I could have spent one month twiddling my thumbs and hoping China would open the Tibetan border, and then paid a lot of money for a guided tour of Tibet before proceeding to China. I ended up flying to Thailand to continue my journey.
In the hills of Laos my bicycle frame suffered a catastrophic failure, necessitating a return to Bangkok (by bus). With a new bike, I set off again, taking the train to Chiang Mai, then in to China. After nearly 2 months of exploring Yunnan province of China, I fell from my bike and injured a rib, and after some time it did not heal and I finally booked a flight home from Hong Kong.
I travelled to Shenzhen by jeepney, bus, and train before catching my flight back to NZ.
I have not sworn off flying entirely, but I am sure I’ve spent more than my lifetime’s carbon budget on the 8 or so long-haul flights and 4-5 short haul flights I have taken. I would have to feel there was a very good justification for me to fly now.
I try to advocate flying less or not flying at all via social media, and to people I know. I also try to encourage people to use public transport and alternative transport.
We need a profound reflection and action on how “global science” is done today. Not only for ecological but also social and epistemological reasons. I believe that knowledge and knowing has to get decentred and (re)gain relevance in particular locations.
I have not stopped flying altogether, but I am now carefully thinking about each and every flight. Is it necessary? What is it really worth it? And of course we need both – to change individual considerations, choices, and collective actions; and changes in academic cultures and expectations in how institutions operate.
I hope to see academic institutions and professional organizations soon joining this initiative and rewriting their rules of operation and codes. Thanks for starting this movement!
My work is situated in between sociology, social anthropology and science, and technology studies, and draws upon actor network theory and related material semiotic methodologies. I have investigated academic practices in the context of current policy changes, science and society relations, environmental controversies and, recently, the interfaces between biomedical and alternative therapeutic practices in the Czech Republic.
I decided to give up flying for work and leisure in 2000 on the ground that it was destructive and avoidable, and have flown just twice since – once for work and once for family reasons. I intend to avoid flying if at all possible. It restricts one’s academic career, but ask yourself how many conferences really make any difference. Can one’s example shift the culture? Not on its own; but in concert with a network of like-minded others, yes.
Senior lecturer, social science of sustainable development. Policy, politics, ethics of sustainability. Values and lifestyle change. Co-investigator, Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, University of Surrey.
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.
For my kids, I can’t not think about climate change! I’ve reduced unnecessary travel and switched to using my EV for regional travel, my bike and feet for local travel – for the health of it as well as the emissions reductions. I hope if we act globally and urgently to reduce emissions, we may preserve a future option for air travel, with innovation to significantly reduce the footprint of this mode.
I think frequent flier rewards plans spur some people to travel unnecessarily. We have a culture of rewarding thoughtless over-consumption. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging away. We need more alternatives, such as rail travel, and I hope North America may invest more in this. Europe has done a great job on expanded cycling, transit and rail networks. We need more Europe in North America!
Medical oncologist for 20+ years, with an increasing interest in health promotion as a means of tackling and reducing rising rates of chronic disease, including cancer. I’ve taken a number of Coursera courses on climate science, out of personal interest, and hope to help lead change.
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.
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.
My husband and I became aware three years ago what a detrimental impact flying has for our climate. We realised that all our efforts to limit our footprint would only mean paying lip service if we did not also tackle flying. This meant that the flight to the West Coast in the USA we had just booked would also be the last. It was strange to realise in the plane that it would be the last time.
Our friends and families were surprised that we took this step, which in their eyes was very drastic. But we also gained respect from friends and coworkers that we took this step.
The hardest part is the realisation that our holidays are a lot more expensive, as it is cheapest to fly to a holiday resort, and it also limits our choices in where to go on holiday. Furthermore, it also limits my choices to go to conferences and clients abroad as it is not always possible to get somewhere without flying.
But every time climate change is reported on, we know that we have done what is necessary to prevent detrimental climate catastrophe. And that strengthens our resolve even further.
I work as manager sustainability assurance at KPMG.
I am responsible for the assurance of non-financial or sustainability information reported by clients to assess its accuracy and completeness. I have become a specialist in integrated reporting and corporate reporting.
In our family we have made a number of changes in our life to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels — commuting by public transit or bike, eating local and mostly veggies, solar panels, electric cars, heat pumps, etc…
Flying is the main holdout in terms of still consuming large quantities of fossil fuels. I pledge to push for options at conferences to use webinars and use Zoom to conduct meetings whenever possible, and I’ll only fly to one critical conference per year.
I’m a mycorrhizal forest ecologist by training, and my current main focus is on inclusive excellence and broadening participation in STEM.
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.
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.
I committed to stop flying in Europe and am trying to reduce cross-continental flights as much as possible. Using alternative (slower) modes of transport not only reduces my C footprint, but also leads to wonderful experiences and a slower-paced life. Longest alternative to flying to date: 7 days crossing the Atlantic on a ship.
I am a geographer-ecologist interested in all things food and nature. Thinking at the global scale. Research focus on what sustainable farming systems look like.
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.
Since reading your book ‘Being the Change’ earlier this year, I made the decision not to fly. I have just made a round trip train journey between Champaign, IL and Schenectady, 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-plus, I will do this as long as I’m able. I will fly only in the case of a medical emergency.
I’m a soil scientist working on part of a team whose mission is to contribute to negative emissions through the land sector. Yet I see people in my organization constantly traveling around the world. And I feel pressured to do so myself.
I don’t think I could fully cut out air travel–it will be necessary for my job and for visiting my in-laws. But I’ve started by committing to no more than one trip per month. That might still sound like a lot, but it was an important first step for me, and is less than many of my colleagues. I’m hoping to cut down even more in the future.
I study the impact of land management on soil biodiversity and nutrient cycling. I focus most specifically on agricultural systems and their impacts on soil carbon. I also quantify the impacts of building soil carbon on the ecosystem services provided by agriculture.
I stopped flying in December last year (2018). The decision was made earlier but I had already accepted participating in a conference in London. Now I only accept invitations, etc. if I can travel by train, or even boat. It takes a little more time, so it is inconvenient for the family when I’m away.
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.
I do not fly unless an event I am covering is important enough, and can’t be covered any other way. I find other journalists closer to the event to cover it, or in the case of the Paris UN climate summit, I covered it by phone, email, and video conferencing.
Terri Hansen is an Indigenous journalist (Winnebago Tribe) who has covered climate breakdown and climate justice for over a decade. Her focus is tribal nations in the US and global Indigenous peoples, as well as stories giving youth with climate anxiety a voice.
As a climate science educator and learning designer working across state, national, and international scales, I have found it challenging to reduce flying. However, I am working towards less travel overall, am working more virtually (virtual happy hours for networking are a real thing), and am improving awareness about this issue across all contexts within which I work.
My research is working to understand how we hold justice central in our efforts to work towards climate mitigation, resilience, and adaptation. Many historically marginalized communities are engaged in innovative activities around climate justice; however, their connections to existing structures of power is fragmented.
We all need each other going forward; working toward this is difficult but necessary.
I enjoy conferences but the hassle, expense, and carbon footprint involved should not be expectations for our advancement as scientists. My current goal is 4 flights or fewer annually.
I’m a marine biologist focused on larval transport using molecular methods to infer patterns and processes that generate population diversity.
I am an elected member of the Tisbury Planning Board, and an appointed member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Although I know that only through collective actions can we confront the climate crisis, we also have the power as individual consumers to divest from fossil fuels through our daily practices.
Both of these individual and collective actions can have a significant impact on our future outlooks as we confront the changes upon us, and re-imagine how society should organize itself. Incredible opportunities exist for humanity if we seize upon this transformative moment; we can bring the world greater equality and a habitable future, or we can watch it all burn up.
Researching policies around municipal energy generation on a small scale.
I am unwilling to fly when each additional ton of emitted carbon threatens another human life. I do very occasionally fly long-haul to see close family living overseas and then take the opportunity to combine this with research collaboration / conference attendance.
My research career has been in material science but I now work on atmospheric science and climate change, with a first paper in this new field currently under review.
We are cooking the planet, and flying is emblematic of the many excesses that have brought us to this point. I can no longer be complicit.
I am a freelance science reporter, writing news and features for magazines and scientific journals.
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.
If scientists can’t be bothered to reduce their carbon footprints, why should anyone bother?
The failure of the scientific community to address global warming is inexcusable. Scientific societies could reduce the carbon footprints of their annual meetings by having meetings every other year, with local meetings in the off years. All conferences should be evaluated for carbon footprint, with the goal of eliminating conferences in exotic locations that maximize emissions. The NIH should reform their review process by having smaller study sections that meet remotely.
Now is the time to start, not when much of Florida has been destroyed and we have millions of climate refugees with no place to go.
My lab studies control of cell growth and size.
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.
From now on I’ll try to fly as little as possible.
Bioinformatician, involved in next generation sequencing of patients with rare genetic diseases or cancer.
German Language and Literature, B.A.
International Relations, M.A.
Philosophy, M.A., Ph.D.
In June I will make my last flight, booked before I had a climate change awakening about air travel. I look forward to the creative challenge of finding other ways to travel, especially by train. I hope that more people will join.
I’m not a scientist! I have just worked at a lot of cafes, restaurants, preschools, etc. Now I am a church receptionist.
I made the commitment to stop flying just this week and today I take my last flight of 2019 (it was already booked before I made this commitment, sadly!). Although nothing is as effective as just not flying, I have donated to a tree-planting association to help “balance out” this last flight.
Since I dislike flying and airports anyway I have often chosen to take trains or coaches when traveling in Europe, and find these a convenient and cost-effective alternative. However, I am aware all these forms of transport are polluting so I am trying to reduce the long-distance journeys I take anyway.
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.
Flying less requires discipline and will-power, to resist tourism advertising and peer pressure. I still fly only to visit my immediate family. Flying less at least means not having to go through security, sit in uncomfortable seats, and otherwise be compromised for hours. I am trying to reduce my emissions in many other aspects of life, but it’s clear that won’t be sufficient. We need to change the very way society operates, switching to different technologies.
Former environmental consultant on hazardous materials in private industry and on many issues in the public sector. Award-winning contributor to about a dozen of Canada’s initial sustainable development strategies. Put into retirement by a right-wing government that was uninterested in knowing about the impacts of climate change and pollution on human health.
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.
The EPFL School of Life Sciences is piloting a project that encourages scientists to travel less by supporting them with the means of remote conferencing and SV (School of Life Sciences) recommended Travel Guidelines & Best Practices that they can adhere to as they wish, or are able to.
The idea is that we want people to change their behavior voluntarily. We will have a major ‘Kick-Off / Information Day” for the whole school on 04 June 2019 and evaluate the travel patterns of the school once a year.
Project Manager, Travel Less Without Loss — School of Life Sciences
I greatly reduced flying in the last years, and although it’s sometimes hard it is also very rewarding. I imagine a plane having monster truck wheels far down there, crushing animals and people in its way. It seems easier for the brain to understand than the destruction coming through greenhouse gases.
I found this page because I searched for a group of people who not only understand my choice, but are backing it up.
I believe that when a group of people put non-flying (or flying just 1000 km or so a year) high in priority, it might be easier to change. And it may lead to policy changes for making flights more expensive, which is precisely what we need in the longer term.
I study Urban Planning, and I am very interested in how we can plan for a greener future!
I fly only when absolutely necessary. It is “luxury” I can mostly live without.
Criminalist, traceologist, crime reconstructionist, forensic scientist, concerned human.
Employed by the City of New York Office of Chief Medical Examiner for over 16 years, and by The Pennsylvania State University for 13 years.
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.
During my recent post-doctoral years in atmospheric science I have flown an inordinate amount for conferences, seeking to connect with researchers in my field and increase awareness of my work. This has led to travel which has felt extravagant, flying sometimes thousands of miles for just a few days, also seeking to minimize the time away from my wife and children.
In addition to the extravagance, flying also induces a certain sense of disconnect. I would sometimes board a plane on one continent and in one climate and hours later abruptly emerge from that sealed environment into a completely different world, where the weather could be very different and people might speak a whole other language. Reading Peter’s book made me realize that this feeling of disconnect from the world of which we are a part is inextricably intertwined with climate change. Solve one problem and you begin to solve the other.
So I decided to try it out by taking a train to a recent Earth science conference in Washington DC. It wasn’t a long trip, only a handful of hours, so the sacrifice in this case wasn’t large. But the pleasantness of parking next to the station, boarding the train with no security, riding in a roomy train seat, watching the country pass by up close, and walking to my hotel from the DC train station convinced me to try more “slow travel”. I don’t think I can commit to not flying at all, but I think I can fly a lot less. If the ground trip can be done in a day, for instance, then it seems worthwhile to try.
Nadir studies the physics of clouds, radiation, and climate at Princeton University and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Before turning to climate science he studied mathematical physics for many years, during which he authored the textbook “An Introduction to Tensors and Group Theory for Physicists”.
While I flew quite a bit during my bachelor / master studies, I haven’t flown since starting my PhD, neither for private nor academic reasons. I guess, as long as we haven’t found a good technological solution for this, everyone who’s serious about his or her own carbon footprint has no other choice than to drastically reduce their own flights.
Increasing the price of flights significantly (carbon tax?) could be an interesting option, while at the same time improving (and subsidizing?) public transportation by trains and buses.
I’m a PhD student at the university of Tübingen in southern Germany. I investigate how we can use microalgea for the sustainable production of biodegradable plastics.
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.
In 1992 I heard about climate change from my biology teacher in upper secondary school for the first time, and that greenhouse gases are not filterable. I felt I had to do something myself, so that as little CO2 as possible gets into the atmosphere.
My grandmother had just bequeathed me a car, which I traded in for a small electric car. Since then I only travel long distances by train (with only one flight exception). In 2012, finally, we produced one of the first (almost) carbon neutral films: I want to run.
Master’s degree in audiovisual media; film company Filmband founder; instructor for screenwriting and film directing; honorary environmental delegate
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.
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?
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.
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.
I’ve been a ‘green’ since the late 1980’s. I did an environmental degree in the 90’s and started taking my carbon footprint very seriously then. In 2008 I won the Oxfam Carbon Footprint Competition with the lowest in the UK, out of about 100 entrants.
I stopped flying in 1997 as it didn’t fit with an ethical green lifestyle. I encourage others to do so, and challenge the idea that flying makes you happy or is necessary for a fulfilled life.
Although I work as a wacky kids entertainer, ‘Professor Fiddlesticks’, I also use my qualification and life experience to teach people about climate change, low carbon living, composting, Arctic methane, green funerals and related subjects. I do talks at Skeptics groups, Humanists, U3A and other events. I’ve done a TEDx talk too, and have written as a columnist in a magazine.
Hear me speak here: https://youtu.be/7l7wkAI3Io8
Studying the adverse consequences of climate change as part of my work, I cannot NOT want to do everything possible to limit my CO2 emissions. I am vegan, live frugally and have never owned a car, but still this is peanuts compared to a transatlantic flight. I decided a few years ago to only fly within Europe for one conference/meeting a year, and to go visit my family since I am currently an expat (the plan is to repatriate in the coming years).
It became obvious that this was the right decision after the birth of my daughter, as neither me nor my child wished to be apart for long periods of time. I am very happy to fly less; it makes my life simpler, but I think many colleagues do not understand my choice and/or think I am slacking off. I try to join meetings via videoconference as much as possible, but the quality is not always optimal.
I know other scientists suffer from the burden of having to travel a lot, sometimes for family reasons as well, so I wish more would join this movement. I am sure the quality of videoconferencing would improve with demand, like everything else.
I am a climatologist working on the impacts of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods, and their link with atmospheric circulation.
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.
J’ai lancé en octobre la médiateur de l’urgence climatique en faisant le constat que l’avion est le mode de déplacement le plus émetteur de gaz à effet de serre et que, symboliquement il est utile de commencer à changer sur ce point de manière radicale.
Votre site est exactement ce dont on a besoin. Perhaps translate it in a lot of other languages? French and so on?
Robotisation des haveuses CERCHAR (devenu INERIS)
Responsable informatique automatique HOECHST
Innovation et transfert de technologies Université du Havre
Chercheur sur la théorie de la médiation (indépendant)
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.
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.
It’s a luxury thing, most things can be done by other means of communication.
Biological modeling and artificial creativity.
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.
As an established scientist in my field, I get many invitations to travel nationally and internationally. I have put myself on a “travel diet” in recent years to reduce my personal carbon footprint.
Tropical rivers and floodplains
You can’t analyse sources of greenhouse gas emissions and then simply take off!
Agricultural scientist, with a focus on sustainability of livestock production systems. I mainly work on sustainability aspects of supply chains for food of animal origin.
I no longer fly. I never flew very much but I took a ‘no fly’ vow last autumn when I joined Extinction Rebellion. The first time I was asked whether I’d be attending a Congress abroad, necessitating flight, the liberation in simply saying ‘I no longer fly’ was quite delightful.
If I should decide to travel long distance, I now have the pleasure of slowly acclimatising myself to the environment. I am no longer subjected to being treated like a potential threat to my world via customs, etc. Life becomes slower, decision-making easier.
Short podcast including rhyme drawing on the non-human example of the queen ant removing her capacity to fly for the sake of her children.
The heart of my creative work is founded on the Biocentric Principle ‘all life is sacred’. This precludes supporting continued fossil fuel use.
I gave up flying several years ago. First I gave up private flying, but then I realized that I cannot justify my work-related flying either, even if I work in an area that from a short-sighted perspective could justify flying (protecting humans and the environment from toxic chemicals).
I have participated in many stupid one day meetings at airports. It is obvious that we cannot continue like this. But it will continue as long as people go. I do not want to be part of this problem anymore, so I stopped flying and will instead be part of the crowd that enable change.
I have a PhD in ecotoxicology and have been working for the Swedish Chemicals Agency for more than ten years. Now I have partly moved back to the academy to participate in a research project on chemicals regulation and circular economy at the Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry at Stockholm University.
I gave up flying in 2003 – a horrific wildfire year in British Columbia – and since then have gradually reduced my carbon footprint by traveling mostly by foot and growing an ever greater portion of my food. As a baby boomer, I do what I can to offset the profligate lifestyles adopted by others in my generation. Not much, but something.
Trevor Goward is a leading Canadian lichenologist with expertise in lichen taxonomy, ecology and biogeography. He has published 100+ peer-reviewed papers, three books and 100+ popular publications. He served on the COSEWIC lichen subcommittee from 1995 through 2011 and has been curator of lichens at the University of British Columbia since 1988.
I have flown quite a lot in my life, primarily in my twenties and early thirties when I traveled a lot and spent time living in Australia and Thailand. I now have two young children and I keep coming back to the idea that one day they will ask me what I did to try to avert catastrophic climate change, so one thing I have decided to do is to stop flying.
I feel totally happy with this decision, and have committed not to stop traveling but to take my time, and to see my travels not just about the destinations but also about the journeys.
I have tried to reduce my flying since 2000. I easily managed to stop flying for private purposes. However, although I took the train to conferences and meetings whenever possible, I still felt obliged to fly roughly once a year to international meetings.
This year, I have decided that I will not fly at all. I have had my first project meeting on Skype with all others being present at the meeting location. A bit awkward, and I may not have understood everything in as much detail as the others.
However, I feel much more at ease with my own conscience now. I have also become more vocal about my choice not to fly as a scientist, which I hope will inspire others.
I research about the design and use of IT for children.
We have a small clinic which uses VO2 peak (peak oxygen uptake) as part of a health assessment. We are fortunate in having a wildlife corridor with a pond, wildflower meadow & a small beautiful oak/ash woodland. It’s a “rural jewel in an urban setting.”
I haven’t flown since retiring from the NHS (National Health Service) in 2008 as a Consultant Physician.
Retired Consultant Physician remaining passionate about health
During my career I have flown from New Zealand to Europe and the USA at least 50 times. It’s time I stopped burning so much carbon.
However, I still encourage young scientists to travel so they can establish contacts and collaborations. But they don’t need to travel as often as I did.
I work on undertaking how white blood cells called neutrophils use chlorine bleach to kill bacteria.
I am starting to realize that my ecological footprint is terrible, mainly because of the field trips and collaborations I have because of my study models: temperate fruit trees. I am now trying to minimize my flight time, even if it is not easy (e.g. when you have to fly to China, how you can make it except by plan or spending hours by train …? Or you try to optimize your venue by staying much longer? Or you come by flight to the capital and then only use trains? I still have to figure out how to answer these questions!).
This is also a question of time that can be spent in traveling. Depending on your personal and professional situations, is it that easy to move for days before and after a meeting ? Can we imagine that some meetings can be done by Visio? Tons of questions I still have to answer!
-Evolutionary genomics of domestication in fruit trees
-Ecological genomics of host-pathogen interactions
In my scientific work and workshops on environmental psychology, I meet many environmental activists. From my first workshop on, I noticed the effect of being authentically pro-environmental and having authentic contact with participants. This made me realize how much other people inspire me who act according to their values (especially in my close surroundings).
Flying less may be one of the hardest steps to take for an environmentally just world because it partially opposes our global worldview and the urge to explore the world and meet people from all around. However, as it is one of the big points of pro-environmental behavior, I cannot authentically advocate environmental protection and at the same time disregard it in such a dramatic manner. My last flight was in 2014. Alternative environmentally-friendly concepts of conferences and cooperation across the world will only arise if we have to become creative.
I’m currently doing my PhD on psychological empowerment of environmental volunteers and others. Specifically, I take a look at predictors and effects of collective, participatory and self-efficacy and their role in spillover effects between various behavior types. Alongside, I try to highlight the importance of psychological findings for environmental practice in workshops on environmental psychology.
Update, May 2019:
The University has created a new initiative, of which it says: “We have decided to build a ClimateCV that transparently shows how much we travelled to go to conferences, meetings and such, and how we travelled there. We hope that this may stimulate discussion in our community about the necessity and unquestioned academic tourism that many of us pursue.”
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.
Traveling less is important, bike or walk to work, eliminate redundant trips, making efficient travel a priority. Every action may have ethical implications; showing care for the earth, care for people and the future is our responsibility.
Executive director for Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute. Automation specialist with a background in Electromechanical engineering.
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.
As an oncologist and cancer researcher I have a feeling that my work is very important. But, I’ve realised that climate change is a more important issue than my work. So I’ve accepted the challenge of working in academia while staying on the ground.
Physician-researcher. Focus on cancer of the endocrine glands.
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 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.
After deciding to not to fly for tourist purposes any more as a family, it is time to take the next step: reducing my university footprint. After flying to conferences and research projects in South Africa this print cannot be diminished. Stopping it from growing is what it is.
In our faculty of social sciences the consciousness on climate change is there, but no matter how reflexive we claim to be, taking the consequences is seldom part of the reflexivity. My motivation to join your initiative is to start working on this. My university is to write a new 5-year plan; it is my ambition to try and get a section on academic transport in it. I myself just started to use a velomobile to drive from home to work regularly, instead of taking the train.
Starting to discuss traveling with students is another contribution I try to make in the course that I teach to Master’s students: Sensemaking in Organization.
So far my research has been on cultural change in South African Higher Education, but my research will shift towards Religion, Ecology & Organization in the Netherlands. I work and teach in the Social and Organizational Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
A couple years ago, a carbon footprint calculator clearly showed my flight CO2 footprint heavily outweighing all the other actions in my life, by more than a factor of 10. As an academic and STEM communicator, I began declining invitations to give talks abroad, many of which were paid and fully travel-funded. Instead I refer colleagues who live closer, or I offer to teleconference in. I also try to understand the impact of online presence — I am considered an “influencer” in the field of AI, and I think this is because videos and online articles have a much broader reach than in-person talks.
By traveling less, I have more time to concentrate on my research and students, and feel healthier and less tired. That said, I still flew a few times last year — these were mainly shorter domestic hops rather than transatlantic flights, and for opportunities to make connections in a new community.
Angelica Lim is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Simon Fraser University and has worked in robotics for over 10 years in Canada, France and Japan. As director of the SFU Rosie Lab, her current research focuses on building robots with social intelligence and empathy, particularly using emotional and multimodal learning paradigms. Before that, she spent 4 years at SoftBank Robotics, where she led the emotion team for Pepper the humanoid robot.
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 never flew much in the first place but I support this.
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.
I have experienced many meetings and conferences that were entirely pointless or that could easily be reduced to email or Skype. I think doing responsible and ethical science requires rethinking many of our taken-for-granted practices — including the practice of traveling.
I do research on public management and social innovation and have a background in sociology. I’m affiliated with VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway, and Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland.
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.
We have to live by the science we make. Science is clear — CO2 emissions must go down and everything one can do matters. In Europe, it is possible to go everywhere by train, and on the train one can actually get some work done!
Researcher in nuclear physics and environmental radioactivity.
I run international study tours for undergraduate students, and have become increasingly conscious of the hypocrisy in learning about international development and community challenges, especially those due to climate change, while so egregiously contributing to climate change through extensive flights and indirect connections.
I commit to flying less, and promoting carbon neutral conferences.
Dr Scott Daniel is a STEM education and international development specialist. A former high school mathematics and science teacher, he recently completed his PhD, and is now working as a Research Fellow in Engineering Education. He has worked in 10 countries on 5 continents, and as a consultant and facilitator with UNESCO, Australian Volunteers for International Development, Engineers without Borders Australia (EWB), Unbound, World Vision, the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. He is a Director of EWB Australia, Vice-President of the Bendigo Discovery Science & Technology Centre, and a member of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education Executive Committee and the Australian Science Communicators Victorian Steering Committee. He has also had a regular radio segment as “Dr Scott” on ABC Gippsland, and now on ABC Central Victoria, answering listeners’ questions about science.
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.
During the last seventeen years, while chairing the Environmental Studies Program and the Anthropology Department, I asked colleagues to present my podium papers in conferences or sent video clips instead. It works well, it’s doable, it broadens the opportunities for your participation if you can’t make it to that important conference for some reason, and it helps reduce the personal carbon footprint.
It also offers some departmental and university budget savings that can support other important, unforeseen tasks.
My research focuses on the saga of the human condition on planet Earth, through archaeological anthropology and skeletal studies; socio-cultural developmental and organizational capacities; and human ecology since the terminal Pleistocene (Epipalaeolithic period) through the duration of the Holocene epochs.
A few months after I sold my car in 2012 in favor of getting around by bicycle, a young man asked me why, since having one less driver made little difference in the amount of pollution. I thought for a minute, then said, “Imagine you were a senator in ancient Rome when the others were conspiring against Caesar. If you loved Caesar and didn’t want to kill him, when they drew their daggers to stab him, would you stab him too? You couldn’t save him by holding back, and if you didn’t join in, your life could become more difficult afterwards.” That’s how I was with my car and the atmosphere, I know my not driving makes no real difference, but I just don’t want to participate in the destruction.
And the fact is, my life has not become more difficult. I love using my own muscles to power my transportation, and I’m healthier and stronger for it. And then I noticed the financial freedom from leaving behind car insurance, maintenance, and gasoline. I laugh when I get a flat tire and pay a local shop $20 to install a new tube, a little more than I used to pay for a car wash.
I remember a time in Africa, riding with a colleague in his car, passing people walking alongside the highway hauling baskets, wagons, or mules. I wondered what they thought of us flying past them. Were they jealous, or angry at us? I sometimes think about them now when I ride my bike. I don’t feel jealous of or angry at the drivers whizzing past me. I more tend to feel sorry for them, trapped in their steel boxes, usually alone, disconnected from nature and other people. I feel free and alive.
On that day back in 2012, the thought occurred to me, “Now that I’ve sold my car, I wonder if I’ll ever fly again.” And amazingly, I haven’t. I’ve crisscrossed the US and Canada several times since then, learning the schedules and foibles of Amtrak and Greyhound, and enjoying the better legroom, greater walk-around freedom, and more colorful community of passengers than on planes.
One thing that concerns me is that I made these changes after a lifetime of driving and flying adventures covering four continents. It was easy for me to leave that behind after collecting a treasure trove of petroleum-fueled experiences and memories. How can I ask young people today to move into their adult lives saddled with slow and inconvenient transportation options? If someone has an answer, I hope they’ll make a viral video about it.
I’m so grateful to Peter Kalmus for this website. I get angry when I watch climate scientists at their fancy conferences at the four corners of the world, knowing they, except for Kevin Anderson, got there on jets. What hypocrites! Where are the Skype presentations by scientists staying home to model the behavior needed to save the planet? I’m now glad to see dozens of scientists making changes in their personal and professional lives in accord with the dire warnings emerging from their work. It’s a crying shame there aren’t many, many more.
Marshall Burns is a physicist and technology entrepreneur who pioneered in the development of personal computers in the 1980s and 3D printers in the ’90s. His career forte is the analysis and interpretation of complex data, which he learned to do in his PhD research on quantum chaos. In 2007, Burns’ focus shifted from technology to human issues, leading him to work on social justice from African neocolonialism to American sex laws.
I only fly when it is absolutely necessary nowadays; if there is a train or boat alternative I will use that. I think it is really important that we skip the unnecessary flights. If you want to travel for leisure, explore your neighboring countries instead of going to the other side of the world. Accept the seasons where you live; you can’t have summer all year around.
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 haven’t flown since 1983. Don’t miss it at all. Will never fly again. Marooned on Taiwan forever now.
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.
Flight-free since 2004. Some reasons here: http://www.ghgonline.org/flyingaea.pdf
I specialise in GHG fluxes and mitigation in the food and land use sector.
I gave up flying 2 years ago. My family of origin lives in Virginia, and I live in Oregon, so this means I have to plan a longer time away to get there by train. I am in a privileged enough position financially to be able to do this once or twice a year, so while it is less convenient, it is do-able for me.
I gave up flying after reading an article about the huge carbon contribution that comes from the airline industry. I feel that every day we must compromise our values and the chances of a livable future for our descendants. Each person can make a difference in altering some of our life choices, and simultaneously make efforts to change the entire destructive system.
I practice striving for restoring the relationship of humans with the Earth through natural farming and Social and Environmental Justice promotion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 am a licensed civil engineer. I found out about the climate crisis in 2007 from an American Institute of Architects webinar training at work. I became aware that I wanted to avoid flying due to the large carbon emissions. I flew in 2007 to meet my sisters mid-continent, then we did the rest of the trip by car together. I flew to see family that lives far from us about 3 years ago.
Last year we drove to a family reunion that we would normally have flown to, taking two grandkids with us and dropping by Yellowstone on the way – both the 2007 and 2018 road trips were very memorable. I’m trying to drive less at work by using Skype when practical, and working from home when I can. I don’t really miss the vacation flights, but it is difficult to avoid flying to family events or when invited by friends to join them.
Although it can feel socially awkward, I feel that explaining to others why I am avoiding flying can help normalize it for climate reasons, especially if am not the only person in their circle of friends who is saying this. That will happen soon, if not already, as awareness grows. Thanks for setting up this website.
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.
My ‘no-fly’ moment came when I decided that I should be living according to the scientific arguments that I accept to be valid.
What I don’t miss: duty free nihilism, passing all my hard disks and laptop through security, the smell of airplane interiors, all that plastic for a small tasteless snack and bad coffee, days that started before dawn and ended after midnight so that I could get there and back in a day.
What’s hard: my elderly parents and sister live in Australia.
What’s surprisingly easy: work meetings via multiparty teleconferences (e.g. Zoom/StarLeaf/Hangouts), telling colleagues “I’m sorry but I don’t fly anymore”, more time with my family and in my garden, getting there on-time by train (SNCF has never let me down, touch wood).
What drives me crazy: scientists who argue that we shouldn’t be trying to change our institutional practices because ‘nothing should stop excellent science’, astrophysicists who think that there are urgent cosmological problems, holiday junkets thinly veiled as science conferences.
Astronomer working on observations of cold gas and star formation in nearby galaxies.
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 last flight I took was in May 2018, so not even a year ago. Before, I was not fully aware of the consequences of aviation – I believe most people are not, and they need to be educated! Not flying and traveling, for instance, from Germany to Spain implies lots of money & time, which is a pain. Yet, it’s all worth it! We need better & cheaper trains systems & more expensive flights!
Renewable energy, mobility, energy storage & Internet of Things (IoT).
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”.
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.
I probably will never fly again. I’ve traveled a lot, and am terrified of flying so it’s easier for me. However as a privileged mother of three who could afford swanky holidays regularly, I still hope that by making this decision it will encourage others to do the same, or at least to fly less.
I have set up a travel policy in my research group with rules-of-thumb with respect to long distance flying, thereby trying to find a compromise between the environmental cost of traveling and the benefits of scientific meetings.
See website, hyperlink above.
I managed to divide by 3 my work flying footprint (losing my frequent flyer privileges in the process – yeah!) without affecting my research. Many alternatives exist!
I am a climate scientist working on climate variability and change using mostly large computer models. I was a lead author for IPCC AR5.
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 recognize my responsibility as citizen and scientist to reduce as much as possible my carbon footprint. That goes for me by adopting a plant-based diet, going to work by bike, buy food with the least amount of packaging, and take the train instead of the plane as much as possible for conferences/holidays.
I am a plant scientist; I assess the link between natural epigenetic variation and adaptation of natural population of the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana.
I hate flying for the fear factor…fear of giving money to human rights abusing oil companies, fear of an unlivable climate, fear of catching illnesses from the weird air, fear of screaming babies, ear damage and DVT, fear of falling from the sky…
I love train and boat travel for the watching the world change around me as I move across the land and sea…
Late 1990’s political analysis of the Global Environment Facility’s functioning with the Science Policy Research Unit and University of Hull. Documentary film maker with Friends of the Earth International, Tax Justice Network etc. Associate Participatory Video facilitator with Insightshare, focused on enabling university researchers to use participatory video in environment-related fieldwork.
Travelling by train across Europe is slower than flying, but far more civilised: it provides a space to read and think, very different from the frenetic experience of air travel.
Railways need to invest now, so that they will have the capacity to take more passengers as flying declines.
I study population genetics, modelling how populations adapt and diverge under the influence of natural selection. Evolutionary biology gives a sobering perspective on the transience and fragility of humanity.
For many reasons I’ve not flown since 2003; I don’t drive, either. I’ve developed active personal vehicle FELA and registered startup to deliver it for the mass market. Technically, it can replace cars for city trips and cut GHG emissions by 20% worldwide. With ICT, it’s needless to fly — any info, every personal talk is just a click or tap away.
BTW, passive hypermobility is noticeably stupifying.
I’m an R&D engineer, PhD.
Computer modelling shows FELA has 10Wh/km cruising at 50km/h v. 150Wh/km of Tesla. being 50x lighter, FELA is ~60x more sustainable than Tesla (in life cycle analysis). The data is reliable as each of 4000 velomobiles on the road is a working prototype of FELA in terms of energy efficiency.
For long-distance travel I take trains or drive where possible. In addition to some beautiful vistas, trains offer the advantages of lengthy conversation and uninterrupted solo activity.
Active in Chicago 350.org and writing for organizations involved with sustainability. Mostly vegetarian since 1989. Mostly vegan since 2018.
I cut my driver’s license into little pieces and sent my car to the wreckers. Reason? Children.
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.
Not that easy not to fly in this job, but I mainly travel within Europe by train or cars. I only fly for long trips (> 5,000 km) and max once a year. Clearly, the cost of kerosene is too low compared to any other mean because you don’t save that much time with all the formalities and custom check.
This year I’ve seen more and more remote conferences and sample-shipping that are efficient alternatives.
I am a plant ecophysiologist working on the effect of freezing temperature on plants. I enjoy sampling using skis or hiking shoes.
I hope by us choosing never to fly we may influence others to do the same, or at least reduce the amount they fly.
Four years in and no regrets….
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.