In climate policy and advocacy circles, many of us worry that the focus on personal-behavior choices like air travel can be a distraction from the profound system changes required to address the climate crisis [“My problem with flying and airplane emissions,” June 11, Opinion]. It was, after all, the fossil-fuel industry that popularized the personal “carbon footprint,” in a craven effort to deflect responsibility.
But personal choices send signals about our commitment to collective change. Most of us accept the science of climate disruption, but unnecessary air travel with no regard for climate consequences suggests a certain detachment — a denial of agency and responsibility. It deflates social commitment.
Feeling guilty about your lifestyle doesn’t help much. You can save your recriminations for the fossil-fuel tycoons who block the policy changes we need so we can live more sustainably. But changing our lifestyles to advance climate solutions signals resolve and builds power. It connects who we are as individuals to what we must do together as a society.
Especially for folks in the Northwest, flying is also a distraction from our amazing place; there’s plenty to do here in the “Great Nearby”!
KC Golden, Seattle