A return flight to Europe and back will travel over 25,000 kilometres and emit over 5,000 kilograms of greenhouse gases. So let's fly only when necessary and offset the emissions we have to have.
The truism "Getting there is half the fun" became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines.' (Henry J. Tillman). We now have another reason to take the slow road and engage in the ancient arts of exploration and conversation. By slowing down and saving up your air-time you can significantly reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
Try and avoid air travel where possible - it's the least efficient transport mode. If you do travel by air, 'own' your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and be prepared to offset (reabsorb) as much atmospheric CO2 as is possible.
How to do it now!
Train, bus, boat before flying
If you are travelling try and stay earth-bound as much as possible: use trains, buses and boats. Catch the Tran-Siberian enroute to Europe and you'll travel more efficiently - and see Russia as well.
Offset your air travel's carbon emissions
A quick, effective and popular way to address the many tonnes of greenhouse gases we emit is to pay someone to offset this by planting enough trees to absorb our emitted CO2. Most airlines now offer this service when you buy your ticket (online). Alternatively, the following organisations have calculators by which you can calculate and purchase 'carbon credits' by which to offset your air travel emissions.
GreenFleet - non-profit - approximately $12.50 per tonne of CO2 offset.
Carbon Neutral - non-profit - approximately $20 per tonne of CO2 offset.
A more effective and permanent (yet more expensive) way to offset your emissions is through investments in renewable power generation, which trades your fossil fuel use against reduced fossil fuel use elsewhere.
ClimateFriendly - company - approximately $25 per tonne of CO2 offset.
Why is this action important?
Reducing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere is critical if we are to address climate change and the environmental havoc it is causing. Offsetting your emissions via reduced air travel and carbon neutralising can lead to both a carbon and cost neutral solution. It also helps us understand the way nature absorbs our waste and our role in facilitating this cycle.
Why do this action?
89 m2 land saved p.a.
586 litres saved p.a.
109 kg CO2 saved p.a.
$284 saved p.a.
Through funding activities that absorb our emissions, we are starting to address the long-term environmental damage that is being caused by the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere. Although this is a short-term solution (we would require several planets full of trees to offset the CO2 being released by everyone), it is a positive first step.
Air travel emissions are responsible for an increasing proportion of our air pollution and the respiratory ailments it causes (asthma, fatigue, chest infections, etc.). It also causes noise pollution and warps our perspective: we end up placing a higher value on those places furthest from us while the places near us are overlooked.