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Ways to Cut Back on Air Travel and Carbon Dioxide Emissions
December 11, 2022
by William P. Meyers

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Ending all Flying now is best but . . .

In Washington State, we should Close SeaTac Now. That is the rational response to a world that has already heated up too much, where even if all carbon dioxide emissions stopped immediately, global warming would continue for decades. Flying people around is among the most wasteful generators of CO2, especially since much flying is done for tourism, high-carbon burn entertainment for the elite. International flights are far more harmful than domestic flights because of the amount of fuel burned. Every airport in the world should be closed except for those serving rare communities that are otherwise inaccessible. But since we are not likely to get legislation to Close SeaTac Now in the next few weeks, or convince elitists to voluntarily stop flying, or shut SeaTac down with massive civil disobedience, here are some half-ass measures to cut back on carbon emissions in the meantime:

1. Taxes. When the established legal system is asked to stop a bad behavior, if an act is not outlawed, it is taxed. Given that flying is mainly done by elites, yet all the world's people suffer harms, taxing flying (more heavily than is current) could produce income that is used to help those most effected, like nations affected by rising sea levels and famine. I would propose beginning with a $100 per domestic (North American) flight tax and a $1,000 tax per flight overseas. The main impact of such a tax increase would be on frequent fliers, particularly those who vacation in Europe or Asia.

2. Rationing. Sometimes taxing something does not cut into its use much, as we have seen with alcohol and tobacco taxes. Rationing could be a good alternative for lowering air travel. Give everyone 1,000 miles per year. They could save up their rations for a few years to fly to Europe, or they could fly to someplace close. Since many people do not fly at all, or fly very infrequently, a trading system could be established. Those who want more could bid on the rations of those who do not fly. A working class kid could possibly help pay for college by simply not flying and selling their rations, for instance.

3. No air mile credit cards. This is truly low flying fruit. Why, when we know flying is so harmful, are credit card companies allowed to give air miles for spending money on credit? It is the very definition of insanity. Contact you political representatives and let them know you want this sick practice to stop, to be totally prohibited by law.

4. Shaming. People should be ashamed, but instead I hear friends who pretend to be progressives and environmentalists boasting of their vacations to Paris or Rome or places even further away and more exotic. If we can't shame our own, how can we shame the general public. I see shaming as a temporary measure, not likely to effect America's narcissistic cultural elite much. The bloody Louvre or some quaint French meal is more important to them than global warming.

5. Lawsuits. Why can't the people of low-lying areas, the people of famine, and others harmed by global warming sue the airlines, the aircraft manufacturers, and the passengers as a class for the harms caused? I wish the species that are going extinct could sue too. I would like to sue for the emotional harm done to me, throughout my life, by knowing the world is being destroyed. Bob Ferguson, where are you when we really need you?

6. Demonstrations. Some people like to organize demonstrations, and some people like to go, and sometimes they get media coverage, or at least social media coverage. How about a Close SeaTac Now demonstration? Not that it does anything itself, but maybe it will encourage people to choose something more effective on this list.

7. Interference. Really, if the people of Seattle area were sane, we could all turn out on the first convenient day and occupy the building and runways and Close SeaTac Down. In the meantime, smaller demonstrations or marches or civil disobedience or direct action might prevent a few flights from leaving and build towards the goal of stopping global warming.

9. Boycotts. This is not much different than shaming, but the psychology is more effective. By calling for a boycott of an airport, an airline, or the entire concept of flying, we ask for a commitment from individuals. Boycotts are legal and might appeal to a segment of the activist population that does not want to risk civil disobedience and is not optimistic about legislation, but would like to persuade people to stop flying.

I wish everyone who cares about the environment would choose the same strategy, but in my (now long) lifetime I have never seen that happen. So let each individual and group do what it does best. At the very least, if you belong to a progressive or environmental group, get them to issue a statement urging members and the public to Just Stop Flying, as part of the Just Stop Oil campaign.

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