Michael Winkler

Board Chair, Redwood Coast Energy Authority - Humboldt County, CA - USA
Humboldt County, CA - USA

I largely stopped flying in 2002 in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and with my knowledge of the very great climate change impact of air travel. I only fly to attend close family funerals and family medical emergencies.

I fairly frequently travel to various energy and environmental conferences on the U.S. West Coast, always by bus and train. Almost everyone else flies, and I find this ironic. People who fly tell me that they admire me for not flying, but don’t intend to stop or cut back on flying themselves.

I find it frustrating that there seems to almost no anti-flying movement in the USA. Three out of my four fellow City Council members fly from the USA to Europe every two years or so for personal vacations. All consider themselves dedicated environmentalists.

Often, people who are vegetarian or vegan tell me that their diet makes more difference than if they stopped or cut back on flying. My sister, who also considers herself an environmentalist and who is a vegetarian, flies internationally and throughout the USA in Business Class multiple times per year.

Sometimes people I know buy carbon offsets and think that excuses their flying. Locally, I know only two people who don’t fly for environmental reasons.

It is a challenge to spur a change in other people’s behavior without simply coming across as judgmental and self-righteous.

I have degrees in physics and environmental engineering, focusing on renewable energy. I am a partner in a firm that does energy analysis and testing for large, zero net energy, low income housing projects. I am the Board Chair of the Humboldt County, California energy agency which controls the electricity supply for the county.