Last Friday, meteorologist Eric Holthaus posted an article to Quartz explaining the newly released IPCC climate report. The gist of the article, as encapsulated by its headline (“The world’s best scientists agree: On our current path, global warming is irreversible—and getting worse”) was far from optimistic.
But then Holthaus, who until recently covered weather for the Wall Street Journal, did something surprising. He turned to Twitter to declare that, on the heels of the report, he was going to take drastic action to reduce his own carbon footprint:
"I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I've never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC" followed by "I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I'm committing right now to stop flying. It's not worth the climate."
Speaking over the phone with Salon from his home in Viroqua, Wis., where he’s grounded himself, Holthaus described the emotional moment at San Francisco International Airport when he realized that his current lifestyle was no longer sustainable — or conscionable.
What changed, Holthaus said, was the report’s acknowledgment that high-tech geoengineering solutions weren’t going to have an impact on climate change. Two things he had seen as potential answers to the climate problem — either launching a massive solar shade into orbit to block 5 percent of the sun’s rays, or installing fake plastic trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere — were both dismissed out of hand. All 195 countries that approved the report agree with scientists that the time and scope needed for such measures wasn’t feasible. On the phone with his wife, Holthaus despaired: “That was our chance, and it’s gone.”
What the IPCC report did find could be effective, said Holthaus, are drastic and immediate cuts to CO2 emissions. On first glance, Holthaus was already doing a lot. He recycles and doesn’t own a car. He’s also a vegetarian. But despite doing “pretty much [what] everyone’s always told me to do,” when he plugged his lifestyle into a carbon footprint calculator, he found that his CO2 emissions were still double that of the average American. Doing almost everything else “right” wasn’t enough to make up for the approximately 75,000 miles he flies annually.
“As an average person that follows this issue and write about it a lot for his job,” explained Holthaus, ”if I don’t do something that the IPCC recommends, why would anyone else?” Using University of California, Berkeley’s, carbon calculator, he estimates that he’ll be responsible for 33.5 fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Holthaus acknowledges the massive cultural change it would take to ground carbon-emitting flights — even Al Gore, he points out, owns a private jet. But Skype, he contends, can often do the same work as face-to-face business meetings, if you can sacrifice the post-meeting schmooze over cocktails. His own lifestyle permits a move toward Internet meet-ups, and while he probably won’t be going overseas again, he says Amtrak can get him most places he wants or needs to go.
Despite what comes off as a huge gesture, he maintains that his decision to stop flying isn’t that drastic. For lifestyle changes like vegetarianism to have a sizable impact, he said, requires constant reaffirmation: You have to deny yourself that steak every day. But plenty of people don’t fly all that often to begin with. If more would cut down on just one long-distance flight per year, he maintains, that would also have a major impact.
This article has been re-posted from www.salon.com and was written by Lindsay Abrams.
Plane Stupid are supporting UK Uncut's protest on October 5th against the governments dangerous plans to cut legal aid further, to the detriment of many vulnerable people and protest groups.
Here is their call out:
The government is about to launch its biggest attack yet on our rights, freedoms, and equality. They want to completely block access to justice for all but the rich, and they want to do it by the end of the year. Such an historic attack on people’s rights cannot, should not and will not go unchallenged. On 5th October, join UK Uncut as we take mass civil disobedience to show that we won’t take this assault on our equality before the law.
The government have forced through devastating cuts in every area from education to housing, welfare to healthcare, and now they want to stop us challenging their unfair and unnecessary decisions, and to stop us from resisting injustice.
If these proposals go through they will stop people from disputing unfair evictions from their homes. They will stop babies from having their interests represented in family disputes. And they will stop the families of people killed in custody or detention from fighting for the truth.
This isn’t a cut that we’re talking about. The changes to legal aid won’t save even one penny, in fact they will cost money by causing havoc to the legal system. They are not motivated by a need to save money – these are ideological changes aimed at ruining justice for poor people and handing more contract cash to G4S and Serco.
So join the UK uncut collective in blocking roads outside of courts around the country. In an act of direct action, we will stand against these dangerous changes that will destroy democracy and ordinary people’s lives. We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works, and that we need to use it to save justice.
We already have the support of DPAC, Defend the Right to protest, Women Against Rape, Plane Stupid, Kent Refugee Help and BARAC UK. But we need your help to make this huge. Get a group together, meet and come up with some ideas for your own act of creative civil disobedience. Start planning, find your nearest court, list your action on the action section of our website and get in touch if we can help.
Blocking roads has an important and effective history in direct action in the UK, and given the government has ignored petitions and protests, civil disobedience is needed to defend our rights against this attack. By blocking roads outside of courts, we will be symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice. If you’re angry that the government is blocking justice for the poorest and most vulnerable, join us on the 5th. Tell all your friends, family and colleagues. Shout about it, tweet it, facebook it.
Thank you for all the amazing support, networking and requests for further action trainings - the spirit of Climate9 lives on in all the incredible actions and movements spiralling out there on the streets to change the future for the better once and for all!
Over the past 5 weeks we brought you campaigning Video (1) 'Introduction to the Climate9 and (2) 'Fighting the Law', (3) 'Building A Campaign That Works!', (4) 'Organising the Press' and today's 'Mobilising Support'. If you want to know how to mobilise a diverse range of environmental, social, racial, gender and economic justice movements for climate action then please watch.
It was always going to be a match made in heaven as on the weekend activists from Plane Stupid met for the first time with campaigners from Plane Stupid Germany at the first ever International Airport Residents Conference held in Munich.
The stories were similar. Munich Airport wants a third runway but are being met with fierce resistance. Like Sipson in West London, Attaching, the location of the conference just outside Munich, is facing the demolition of people's homes and community to make way for another runway.
250 people who attended the conference, mostly locals, heard stories about the impacts of aviation on people's everyday lives. The stories from all over Europe were different, but each time there were many similarities. The noise impacts are always horrific, air pollution rates are out of control and the most worrying reality of all this planned airport expansion is that we're surely left with no chance of preventing the worst affects of climate change.
However, resistance is rife. From Nantes to London, Munich, Berlin, Leipzig, Austria, Brussels and in Frankfurt where over 1500 people are occupying the airports terminal every Monday, ordinary people are fighting back all over Europe.
The campaign in Munich in particular has a great chance of success and John Stewart's (Chair of Airport Watch & HACAN) talk at the conference on 'how the Heathrow campaign was won' offered much inspiration.
Last year, in an almost copycat protest to when Plane Stupid members famously got on top of the roof of Parliament, activists from Plane Stupid Germany organised a banner drop at their Town Hall. And as we have in Sipson, activists have now built great relationships with the community around the airport who are faced with losing there homes. At a recent region wide referendum, the votes counted showed that most people now oppose a third runway at Munich, a result that the Plane Stupid Germany activists can take much responsibility for.
The second day of the conference was a campaigning session where we made a presentation on the history, justification and previous examples of direct action taken by ourselves. The German activists and residents were left inspired, and although the majority of them are a lot older than we are – to our amusement we must add, if the government don't scrap the third runway plans soon - I wouldn't be surprised if we see a member of Plane Stupid Germany on the newspaper front pages super-glued to a politician in the near future.
This weeks video is the third in the series. Following on from Vlog1 'Introduction to the Climate9 and Vlog2 'Fighting the Law' we have 'Building A Campaign That Works!' - which focuses on the initial steps in the campaign to take climate criminals to the courtroom.
You also get to meet lots of the parents in this episode which offers an interesting insight into the activists family life. We will be releasing the last two of the five part series on the next two following Wednesdays - next week stay tuned for 'Organising the Press' which will be aimed at all of the media heads out there.
If you have any requests, interview / article ideas or would like to donate a few pennies for the film production costs please email press[at]planestupid.com