Over the last two months, I have made a drastic and dramatic decision. No, Glen and I are not adopting a human child; our cats, Wally & Emma, are more than we can handle at the moment. And, no, I am not coming out more, although there is always room for more coming out.
For those who do not know, I am a performance artist and queer Bible scholar who travels throughout North America presenting at universities, seminaries, conferences, theaters, and churches. I live in Central Pennsylvania, a gay Quaker in Amish Mennonite Country, and I communte to California and Tennessee and a bunch of other places to do my work. And within that context, I have made a drastic and dramatic decicion.
I have decided that for the next five years or more I will not travel by plane within North America. No more flights from Pennsylvania to San Francisco or Vancouver or Memphis or Mexico City for business or pleasure. Other than in the case of an emergency, I have officially grounded myself.
Why? Short answer: It’s because of Climate Change and the excessive individual role flying has in pumping CO2 and other Greenhouse forming gases into the atmosphere. I have already flown much more than the average earthling. My individual contribution to the climate change compared with most people is off the charts, even with over ten years of being a vegan and seven years living without a car. For me, I cannot ethically fly any longer.
I recognize that this choice in and of itself will not drastically change the world at large. Nations, lawmakers, institutions, and businesses will have the largest impact in addressing the current global climate crisis. I have little to no power over what they choose, but I exercise vast amounts of agency over my own choices.
And with a choice like this, well, the world becomes a different place for me. In fact, it opens up opportunities previous unknown to me. (More about that in a future post.)
Notice I stated I will no longer fly within North America. I said nothing about flights to Europe or the UK or South Africa. The grief at the thought of possibly never seeing some of the dearest people I know, people who happen to live in Sweden, Malta, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, South Africa, Spain, and Norway, seizes up my heart and brings a tight sob immediately to my throat. I do not know about that yet. I understand that longer flights oddly have less impact than multiple shorter ones (something to do with disproportionate amount of fuel needed in take off and landing.) I know that I could also look into purchasing carbon off-sets to help balance out the carbon I expend. Today I do not have to make those decisions.
Instead today I am looking into train schedules for trips to Greensboro, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque, and I’m planning a bus ride to Nashville. The choice to ground myself limits me, and it opens doors.
I welcome your comments.