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Credit Card Air Miles and Global Warming
October 16, 2022
by William P. Meyers

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CO2, Air Miles, and Credit Cards

If you want to add significantly to you personal planetary impact footprint, all you need to do is fly. One of the reasons people in nations like the United States, on average, produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than people in poorer nations is that we fly so much more. On average. In fact a small percentage of the American people do most of the flying, burn most of the jet fuel, produce most of the CO2, and produce most of that kind of contribution to global warming. And secondarily to drought, flooding, famine, and various forms of ecological collapse.

A rational, science led government would have banned almost all flying starting in 1990, but no. It is the ruling class that enjoys flying the most, and they have had no inclination to cut back on their own privileges. Admittedly in 1990, while global warming had been measured and confirmed by scientists, most of the effects were still in the future. We are in that future. In 2022 we are seeing ice caps melt, sea levels rise, practically global droughts causing famines, and thousands of people drowned in floods, but still only minimal action. I am not saying that a few wind turbans and solar cells have not been installed. I believe the Inflation Reduction Act will have some future impact on CO2 emission. But in this emergency, instead of slamming on the brakes, our government is trying to choose a different music play list.

As I write here in Seattle, on the border with Shoreline, it is 82° F. The record high for this day of October, for Shoreline, is 69°. 13 degrees above the prior record. Sure, not killer heat, but why is our government not alarmed? And if alarmed, why are jets flying out of SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma airport) and other airports?

I began noticing some time ago that even many of my progressive, environmentalist friends were flying quite a bit. Upon inquiry, I learned that many of them had credit cards that give them airline miles whenever they spend money. They even pay their rent and utilities with credit cards in order to get air miles. Now I understand the origin of air miles as a reward for frequent flyers. Air miles were effectively a volume discount. That changed when the credit card companies, banks, and airlines started giving flights as a bonus for spending, including excessive spending. It expanded both the number of people flying and the number of miles they flew. I understand my friends want to see Europe and Bali and even Cuta, but credit card air miles expanded fossil fuel use, CO2 emissions, global warming, drought and famine.

While we are waiting to shut down the airports, convert as much energy production to renewables, and die of starvation of heat exhaustion, would it be too much to ask the government to make it illegal to give air miles for credit card use? Is not that an environmental regulation that would quickly reduce emissions without hurting anyone, except the profits of the airline corporations?

Please pass this idea on, if you like it. If you belong to an environmental group, see if they will lobby Congress to make air miles for credit card use illegal. If you have an air miles credit card, trade it in for a cash back card and use the cash for something less destructive.

If you don't know the basics of air travel effects, read Global Movement Wants You to Be Ashamed to Fly. One handy calculator showing what a jerk you are for flying is Carbon Emissions Calculator.

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Copyright 2022 William P. Meyers. All rights reserved.