Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow is the author of Personal Stereo, a cultural history of the Walkman. (August 2019)

NYR DAILY

Flight Shame: The Climate Hazards of Air Travel

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg arriving to New York City after a fifteen-day journey crossing the Atlantic aboard the Malizia II, a zero-carbon yacht, August 28, 2019

It’s hard to know exactly when the idea of flight abstinence was born, but one important milestone cited by non-flyers was the British writer George Monbiot’s 2007 book Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning. After reviewing the literature, Monbiot concluded that there was, alas, “The growth in aviation and the need to address climate change cannot be reconciled.” Most airplanes would need to be grounded, he wrote, which he realized was “not a popular message.” But while our personal travel habits can play a role in shifting the culture, more systemic and institutional changes will obviously be needed if we are to have any hope of curbing emissions from aviation.