The unintended consequences of air travel

After a hot sunny week in Vietnam, and after a 50 years of long-distance business and holiday travel during my adult life, I have come to the conclusion that most of us would be better off limiting our travel distances by plane to 3 hours max.

The rest could be done in boats and trains, but not in polluting cars or motorbikes – video conferencing should be implemented much more than present use.

Likewise, public transport needs to see massive investment in all of the world’s major cities, while all big gas-guzzling scooters, motor bikes, cars and polluting lorries should be banned.

The reason for these conclusions is simple – it would help towards to saving the world from the coming disaster of climate change. We have probably already passed the turning point of no return at the rate we are travelling.

In Vietnam, you can see the same senseless real estate development of hotels and tourist traps that we have seen in Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Thailand, China, etc…

At home, we are destroying Finland’s own precious and vulnerable Lapland landscape by cheering on the rush of millions of Asians to visit Lapland in Finnair’s planes.

Finnair’s strategy to maximize profits is simply not sustainable. Just look how fragile Lapland is with the current mining boom there – mass tourism is just as bad and unsustainable. If you do not believe this, just visit Rovaniemi to see what concrete and greed can do…

Most of these far-flung tourist places, like many huge cities, do not have sewage works – raw waste is just pumped into the rivers and seas polluting the environment. Plastics and this raw waste fill the seas, kill the fish and other marine life. The swelling numbers of tourists trundle to and from the five continents in our airlines that pollute the skies, just like our overcrowded cities where fossil fuel fumes and waste water pollute the air and ground.

Ground water is being depleted by wasteful processes to feed cotton fields, agriculture, steel and concrete plants. Coal and lignite are being mined because it is the cheapest source of energy for cars, lorries, ships, aircraft. More fossil fuels are used for plastics, Nike shoes, tyres and food packaging. When we dispose of them it takes a thousand years to degrade. They even enter our bodies in the food chain, the consequences of which we know little, but do not expect good news.

Trump, and his like, are fools because they just ignore the warnings from scientists. It does not matter if Trump and company are simpletons or deliberately choose to ignore the warnings because they get richer by selling more pollution. Doing nothing is no answer.

This last trip to Vietnam was at best interesting, but the reality was that it just did not feel right. The hotels are made as identical copies of impersonal rooms that you can see in any other Western country. Their Asian thing is just a veneer and bears no relationship to the country’s own culture or social fabric. We are being served up fakeness… We are just exposing ourselves to a big hoax while polluting this planet very effectively… and we only have one planet where we are all crammed together. There is no escape when the atmosphere starts to kill us, even though Hollywood is graciously promising us salvation.

We really do need to have a debate about long distance air travel. Just because taxpayers have a big share in Finnair should prevent such a discussion – quite the opposite!

Photo: FinnishNews

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