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    • These are really great questions so after I read them yesterday I wanted to spend some time thinking about them before answering.

      I think the answer is that it's no more unethical to take an international flight for a vacation than it is to simply exist as a typical modern human.

      If you skip the international vacation due to ethical concerns, then those same ethical concerns obligate you to avoid using any product shipped via air freight. Some of the food you eat may have been shipped internationally by air. The clothes you wear and the smartphone in your pocket almost certainly were, as was the laptop on your desk. Maybe even the desk itself.

      As @jpop points out above, there are more effective ways for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. But I think what we really need are large, systemic changes. We need to make it easy for everyone to reduce their carbon impact. We need better alternatives.

      When there's a better alternative to a carbon-heavy activity or resource, people adopt it quickly. For instance, as electric cars become more affordable and more capable, more people are happy to get rid of their gas cars. When people learn that there's a great farmer's market nearby, they're excited to buy locally produced food. As technology improves and costs fall, people are eager to have solar panels installed on their homes.

      We don't yet have a good low-carbon alternative for international travel, but with enough effort and investment in other areas we can make changes that will offset the impact of the things we can't change yet.

    • A few years ago on a film trip to Iceland, I watched the Vatnajökull glacier recede a few feet in a week. It had a really powerful effect on me. I have been able to correlate climate change to the destruction of beautiful landscapes with my own eyes through my international travels, and that is what motivated me to go from wanting to protect our planet to actually taking steps in the flight to protect it. So traveling overseas might be one of the best ways to emit carbon if you can do something with it, like for me it was volunteering for the Sierra club and joining lobby's, like for SB100.

      📷: This is where we witnessed the Vatnajökull glacier recede.

    • Oh wow. When were you there?

      Here's a photo I took of Vatnajökull in September of 2015 from the end of the trail that starts near the Skaftafell campground. Not sure if we're looking at the same part of the glacier as your photo though.

    • Oh wow, the locations of where we took our photos were about 10 miles apart. I took that photo here:

      We stayed in a farmers basement for 6 nights that was pretty close to the Skaftafell campground. I took this photo very close to where you were 👇

    • Great photo! That's very close to where we were. Here's where my photo was taken:

      I even took an aurora photo from the Skaftafell campground while we were there! 😄

    • First off, I appreciate that we can have civilized discussions on Cake where we can learn from each other, even if we ultimately have different viewpoints

      I would agree with you that we need to be more deliberate in our decision to order shit from Amazon if overseas shipment is required.

      If your kid needs anti-carsick glasses shipped from China so that your daughter can ride in the car without puking, that’s meeting a need.

      If your insulin prescription refill is going to be shipped from Indonesia, that’s meeting a need.

      On the other hand, if you’re ordering bling for your Tesla from China, I wouldn’t call that a need, or even a want that can’t be done without.

      So I’d agree that we should be asking such questions, instead of blindly following the no straws movement and having little to no impact on combatting climate change.

      That’s my two cents, anyway.

    • This is something that I've actually thought about a lot, but hadn't ever thought to discuss on here. I travel internationally a fair amount, but recently have been feeling somewhat guilty about it for the reasons mentioned in the original post. I think this is good for putting it in perspective--I can do a lot more good by using my working life to help contribute towards lessening climate change then I can by not traveling internationally.

      I feel a lot of the same guilt when I ride my motorcycle, which is one of my favorite things to do, and this really helps me feel better about that as well. Riding a vehicle that gets 45 miles a gallon is probably not having a particularly significant impact on the world as a whole.

      On the other hand, I feel like this kind of thinking is part of why people don't vote, and I don't really agree with it in that situation, so I'm not sure why I agree with it here. If everyone thinks that changing what they're doing isn't going to change the world in any way, where's the incentive to move towards cleaner technology?

    • If everyone thinks that changing what they're doing isn't going to change the world in any way, where's the incentive to move towards cleaner technology?

      This is why I think one of the best ways to bring about meaningful change is to support the creation of better alternatives. Not just alternatives, but better ones, so that people would be silly not to change once they're able to.

      I love driving. I used to feel guilty about it. Last year I was finally able to buy an electric car that I like more than any gas car. Now I still get to do what I love, and I can feel less guilty knowing that my car (at least when I charge it at home) is powered by electricity that primarily comes from clean sources like hydro and wind. Maybe someday you'll be able to trade your gas motorcycle for an electric one you like even more.

      I also love meat. I'm not thrilled about the environmental impact of eating it, but I'd hate to give it up. So I'm really excited about the advances being made in synthetic and plant-derived meat substitutes. I'd love to be able to switch to something that tastes like meat but is better for the environment.

      Obviously it's valuable when people choose to drive less or fly less or consume fewer animal products, because every little bit helps. But I think most people are like me: we're not crusaders. We'd like to change, but not at too significant a cost to our own happiness.

      I'm not really proud of it, but it's the truth. 🤷‍♂️