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