Travel and climate change: conflicting truths

The Hamilton Pool Preserve in Texas. Photo by Dave Wilson.

I’ve been doing more reading about both travel and its impact on climate change. I don’t know how to reconcile what’s ultimately necessary for our survival with what’s good, and beautiful, and connects us.

I don’t have any scintillating synthesis. I just have quotes and pictures. And a wish that there were an easy answer.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Saint Augustine

“Just one return flight from London to New York produces a greater carbon footprint than a whole year’s personal allowance needed to keep the climate safe.”
— ETA, Air Travel’s Impact on Climate Change

“While we may not want to admit it, Americans lead fairly sheltered lives, and as a result, generally have a poor understanding of what is really happening in the rest of the world. ‘I think it’s really hard to fully comprehend what your own country has, both the good and the bad, without getting outside of your comfort zone on a deeper, more meaningful level,’ says Meet, Plan, Go! Austin co-host Keith Hajovsky. “Taking a gap year or a career break is a great way to accomplish this.”

Likewise, San Diego host Elaine Masters believes that there would be far less intolerance, violence, prejudice, and hatred in the world if more people got to experience the ways in which other people live in it. ‘There is really no better education available, in my opinion, than seeing the world,’ says Masters.”
— Katie Aune, Why a Gap Year Should Come to America

Lison, Portugal. Photo by Filipa Chatillon.

“And, no doubt, many of us have adopted new habits—trying to use public transportation, buying local foodsrejecting bottled water. But the “savings” from such practices are wiped out by a habit that many of us not only refuse to kick, but also increasingly embrace: flying, the single most ecologically costly act of individual consumption.”
— Joseph Nevins, Kicking the Habit: Air Travel in the Time of Climate Change

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Are fatshionistas pioneering a deep economy of fashion?

I’ve been doing more thinking about the ethics of fa(t)shion, while also re-reading one of my favorite books: Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben.

In it, McKibben argues that our growth-focused global economic system 1.) creates extreme inequality, 2.) is environmentally unsustainable, and 3.) fails to make people happier, because so many people are isolated, stressed out, and lacking community support.

He proposes switching to smaller-scale, community-based systems, and gives examples from all around the world: from the organic farming system that developed in Cuba after the fall of the USSR, to a cooperatively-owned clothing store in Wyoming, to a city bus system in Brazil.

It’s a brilliant, fascinating, hopeful read.

And it got me thinking: are we fatshionistas on the forefront of a new deep economy of clothing?

Lacking more traditional options, we’ve developed community-based means of shopping: from pop-up shops to clothing swaps to rummage events like Boston’s Big Thrifty and New York’s Big Fat Flea.

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