Emma Palmer

Psychotherapist/Ecopsychologist - formerly Bristol University
formerly Bristol University
Emma Palmer

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.