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.