August 14, 2013

If you really care about global warming, stop all unnecessary travel.

Via Instapundit, Megan McArdle asks: "Why does air travel get left out of the mix when we’re talking about reducing our carbon footprint?" She considers the class politics:
And although many car trips are hard to avoid, given 60 years of infrastructure development, a lot of the air travel is unnecessary -- and concentrated among the so-called one percent. Only about half the country takes as much as one flight a year; I’m willing to bet that virtually every U.S. citizen gets in a passenger car at least once per annum. And while most of those car trips are the business of everyday life -- getting to work, procuring food, etc. -- most of those flights are either vacations, or elite workers flitting to conferences and business meetings....

Giving up air travel and overnight delivery is much more personally costly for the public intellectuals who write about this stuff than giving up a big SUV....

If we’re going to get serious about greenhouse gasses, we need to get serious about air travel. Going to a distant conference should attract the kind of scorn among the chattering classes that is currently reserved for buying a Hummer.
I have a number of arguments against travel, so it's easy for me to adopt one more. I have thought about — but thus far resisted — gibing about global warming when the topic of travel comes up in conversation. I sometimes imagine dialogues in which someone asks me — as people so often do — if I've got travel plans for summer/winter/spring break and I claim to be doing my part in the fight against global warming, or someone goes on about their wonderful destinations and I puncture the  mood by inquiring about the morality of needless carbon emissions.

By the way, I love seeing McArdle use the word "flitting" — "elite workers flitting to conferences and business meetings." I used that word yesterday in my response to Elon Musk's "hyperloop":
I believe the truly modern technological solution is not to travel at all. Overcome the need to have the body go anywhere. That's the most efficient answer to our transportation problems. Musk's tube would supposedly get people back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Why? Pick a city. Stop this senseless flitting from one city to another.
In the comments at that post, mikee said:
A late 1970s anthology of short story Science Fiction included a story describing Althouse's ideal.

Instant video/audio/text/data communication between people and total availability of all information resources via something quite like a super duper internet led to the rich becoming isolationists in the extreme, to the point that a woman forced to travel finds herself flying over the Himalayas and sees nothing worth the effort of observing.

With great introversion comes great disassociation.
I said:
@mikee I think it's a limitation in the capacity to observe that makes people think they need to rove. If you really paid attention to your surroundings, you could be endlessly fascinated by your home town. It's similar to the value of a marriage compared to multiple sex partners.
And I say it's funny that the Himalayas came up in this context, because my favorite lines in my favorite movie — "My Dinner With Andre" — use a trip to Mount Everest to signify looking for meaning by going far afield instead of seeing it nearby:
Tell me: why do we require a trip to Mount Everest in order to be able to perceive one moment of reality? I mean...I mean: is Mount Everest more "real" than New York? I mean, isn't New York "real"? I mean, you see, I think if you could become fully aware of what existed in the cigar store next door to this restaurant, I think it would just blow your brains out! I mean... I mean, isn't there just as much "reality" to be perceived in the cigar store as there is on Mount Everest? I mean, what do you think? You see, I think that not only is there nothing more real about Mount Everest, I think there's nothing that different, in a certain way. I mean, because reality is uniform, in a way. So that if you're--if your perceptions--I mean, if your own mechanism is operating correctly, it would become irrelevant to go to Mount Everest, and sort of absurd! Because, I mean, it's just--I mean, of course, on some level, I mean, obviously it's very different from a cigar store on Seventh Avenue, but I mean...
I had just quoted that last month in a post called "What do you think the difference is between a tourist and a traveler?" where I had said "Most of our depth comes from the life we live at home, and if we were really observant we would never run out of things to perceive and contemplate at  home."

These ideas are not about fossil fuel and global warming, but about psychology and philosophy. But it is the elite class that pushes environmentalism and (hypocritically) flits all over the earth (sometimes to talk about environmentalism), and it is the elite class that ought to be delving into the psychology and philosophy of travel.

But what about you, Althouse, don't you travel? The truth is, I haven't left Madison — other than to go to a nearby state park — since last August.

79 comments:

Seeing Red said...

Her comments are interesting. It seems the author of the piece got her math wrong as to how much carbon is being emitted.

harkin said...

I read a friend's copy of Vanity Fair when I visit and it's like an homage to the hypocrisy of the environmental jet-setter. They even proudly shout out about their green issue in the same breath that they boast of mega yachts and bi-coastal living. I think the low point lately was bragging about a Parisian hotel manager who was able to locate elephant steaks for an exotic dinner (they had a zoo animal shot IIRC).

cubanbob said...

Too esoteric. Just shoot the greens thus sequester the carbon in a form more useful such as natural fertilizer. It's a win-win: Gaea is better served and when rid ourselves meddlesome, worthless hypocritical pains in the rear.

JimB said...

Re: your quotation from "Andre". ANY place is better than New York City. The soul shrivels from the press of other souls in that madly compacted space. I used to work in NYC...trained in and trained out...couldn't wait to get a job elsewhere. (Houston...blessed place....spread out and relaxed.

...and why not travel if it pleases you? New vistas to see, new people to meet, new experiences to enjoy. Even new political views to uncover... a bit more conservative than Madison, I'd bet.

So get out of your cocoon and come to Houston. Only wait until mid-October when it is not so d...n hot.

bpm4532 said...

Yes. It is the elite class that needs to think about its own behavior and ponder their need for a $30,000 handbag. Along with their need to tell other people how to live and impose solutions on others while exempting themselves.

traditionalguy said...

It is very stimulating to visit and live briefly in other cultures. Then people interact on so many levels that is only experienced in the presence of new groups. You absorb culture that way.

The internet is no substitute for that.

Hermit monks and monastery monks are not nearly as smart as they imagine they must be.

Terry said...

I'm reading Halperin's A Soldier of the Great War. The hero is a young Italian academic who studies aesthetics (beauty). As a result he is a close observer of the world, and wherever he looks, he sees beauty, not just in objects but in humanity. Beauty, to the hero, is not the appearance of particular things, it is an aspect of God, the spirit that lies behind the appearance of things.

Broomhandle said...

Incredible the number of commenters there who missed the point of McArdle's piece. The left's irony impairment is wondrous to behold.

AaronS said...

There is nothing amusing about global warming discussion. Nothing.

AaronS said...

Now deciding which travel is necessary and which is unnecessary sounds like a very amusing discussion. I vote we talk about dog travelling first.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Being flighty and fleet, they ignore their own feat prints while asking us to follow steps.

Ann Althouse said...

"It is very stimulating to visit and live briefly in other cultures."

1. Why is it important to be very stimulated?

2. When you travel are you really "in" the other culture?

3. If you are only "in" another culture "briefly" and to obtain "high stimulation," are you even experiencing that culture? Have you gone there to be there, are is the there some place in your head?

4. Is that place a good place?

"Then people interact on so many levels that is only experienced in the presence of new groups. You absorb culture that way."

1. Absorbing a culture... sounds like what aliens do.

2. Do we flatter ourselves here with this claim of interaction on many levels, like this is a heightened, lofty existence compared to life at home? Are we really so fabulously complex when we travel, or are we actually more shallow?

3. What do the natives think of the tourists? Surely not that we are a wonderful experience for them. Do they involve themselves with the tourists... other than to reap money?

"The internet is no substitute for that."

No, but living at home in your actual culture, involving yourself with people in your community is superior to efforts at getting into someone else's culture.

"Hermit monks and monastery monks are not nearly as smart as they imagine they must be."

If the point is that people imagine what they are doing is more valuable than it is, you must turn that analysis to your own activity in travel. Here you are claiming stimulation and achievement of "levels"... kind of sounds like a video game.

Terry said...

The point of my comment, anyhow, was that it is very easy to mistake the desire for beauty with the desire for novelty.

JimT said...

JimB said:
"ANY place is better than New York City."

Couldn't disagree more. We moved to northern NJ when I was twelve; spent the first two weeks living in the Commodore Hotel, on top of Grand Central Station. Rode every subway line clear to the end. Every time I got off I saw something wonderful. My first day I forgot to make sure I had money to get back before I got off. Found a quarter on the Brooklyn Bridge.

That was 65 years ago. I still feel the same way every time I return. My sister is gone now, so I don't get back as often, but her garden is still there in Riverside Park, and the city is still AMAZING!

cubanbob said...

Incredible the number of commenters there who missed the point of McArdle's piece. The left's irony impairment is wondrous to behold."

Actually, no. The irony impairment of the left is simply a part of their nature. Just another manifestation of The White Man's Burden.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Seeing Red,

The comments to McArdle's piece are indeed interesting. (I waded in there myself.) It's not nearly as clear as you think it is that she got the carbon figures wrong; there are a lot of complicating factors.

That said, I think McArdle's primary point is that flying people all over the place for conferences, meetings, &c. is ridiculously wasteful. I thought the Bali meeting on climate change was already well into Onion territory: Hey, let's fly representatives of 180 nations from all over the planet to a tropical resort so they can debate how best to reduce everyone's carbon footprint!

But it's true on a smaller scale as well. Why, in Heaven's name, does anyone in 2013 need to be in the same room with his/her colleagues for a business discussion? You'd think Skype was some pie-in-the-sky piece of future technology, right up there with time travel, from the way some people talk about the necessity for face-to-face contact in what is revoltingly called "meatspace."

And you'll notice that the "meatspace" encounters are generally in pretty places. It's always (say) Hilton Head, not (say) Newark. I'll believe this is all about work when it takes place in locales that aren't terribly conducive to play.

cubanbob said...

No, but living at home in your actual culture, involving yourself with people in your community is superior to efforts at getting into someone else's culture."

Well I suppose this could be a good argument for going retro to the middle-ages. The serfs were very in tune with their community and culture and never travelled more than a few miles from where they were born. Good times indeed.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

bpm4532,

It is the elite class that needs to think about its own behavior and ponder their need for a $30,000 handbag.

You never know; it come in useful one of these days.

AaronS said...

"living at home in your actual culture, involving yourself with people in your community is superior to efforts at getting into someone else's culture"

True. We have replaced reverence for deep knowledge with reverence for broad knowledge. A return to deep understanding of the people next door and across the street would benefit all of society. And make for more fulfilling lives. Much more than another vacation to photograph buildings from hundreds of years ago.

Shanna said...

On travel: I have seen pictures and videos of the grand canyon and they do not compare to seeing it in person. Arkansas is beautiful but California is a different kind of beautiful. As is Scotland. As is Mexico. Travel is not necessary but it is amazing.

To Megan I say, yes, they are full of it, but stop giving them ideas. If they ban something, you know it will be for us not them.

TosaGuy said...

When I travel for the military I have to prove that I cannot accomplish the mission via video conferencing.

The only thing that fly shaming and the resulting price increases would do is remove the unwashed masses from the plane, leaving a comfortable, circa-1970s flying experience to our nation's elites whose huge carbon output is actually beneficial to the earth, unlike that filthy carbon from that family of six flying to Disneyland.

MadisonMan said...

I go to three meetings a year, and they are very valuable from a scientific point of view. Could I dump going? Sure. Would I be less productive? Probably.

When people get on my case about Global Warming, and reducing carbon footprints, I ask them if they have children, and if they're lobbying India and China to stop their economic development. Those two things trump anything I might do.

Ann Althouse said...

As for NYC, I said pick a city. Those who pick New York know why and its great for them. Those who don't could just say its not my kind of town. Find your true habitat and truly live there. Don't flit. Sit.

Ann Althouse said...

This goes with my proposition: Better than nothing is a high standard.

Do nothing. Go nowhere. Think of the phase "I'm going nowhere" in a positive light: I want to be here, in my element as long as I can.

There's no place like home. No place is like home. Home is the positive nothing.

Ann Althouse said...

Another aphorism of mine:

At least do nothing.

Rocketeer said...

As a philosphical exercise - which I understand this to be - it's fine to contemplate, but I can't ignore that the genesis of this particular discussion about the desire, morality and need for travel is rooted in the notion that global warming is a) real, and even if so b) anthropogenic, and even if so c) undesireable. In that context, I must say I'm un-shameable in that I remain unconvinced of a), much less b) and c). Even disregarding "global warming", at a fundamental level I reject the notion that we have "transportation problems" that require an "answer."

And while I agree that "[m]ost of our depth comes from the life we live at home, and if we were really observant we would never run out of things to perceive and contemplate at home", I can't help but think at the same time that the seeds of its own destruction, or expansion, is contained in the notion. Where does my "home" or "community" begin, or end? Who's to define that?

Levi Starks said...

I think the mistake being made is that we think we have to actually be in a certain place in order to experience it.
At one time this may have been true, but with the advent of photography, and moving pictures it became less so. It doesn't seem so difficult to me to see how currently available technologies can be sewn together to create an almost seamless virtual reality to allow a person to "be" anywhere they choose. And I don't just mean visually. Sight, Sound, Climate, Smell, and who knows, maybe even a little touching.

cubanbob said...

True. We have replaced reverence for deep knowledge with reverence for broad knowledge. A return to deep understanding of the people next door and across the street would benefit all of society. And make for more fulfilling lives. Much more than another vacation to photograph buildings from hundreds of years ago."

I don't know about you but my deep understanding of my neighbors and the folks across the street is that they aren't all that deep. Which is the wife and I like to travel occasionally to meet and experience different not-so deep people. I suppose in fairness they could say the same about me.

Ann a lot of the NYC economy is based on people who flit there instead of sit there. Without the flit those NYC folks who sit there may have to git to Rochester where the unemployment check will git you further. Rochester in the winter-what joy!

William said...

I liked to travel when I was young. There was the feeling that out there, somewhere, was a great good place where the pretty women thought I was irresistible and there were great gobs of money just laying around. I never found such a place. I don't travel much anymore because it would be a real bummer if, this late in the game, I discovered such a place.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think the mistake being made is that we think we have to actually be in a certain place in order to experience it."

Yes, often we visit places of historical significance, but we'd have a closer link to the reality of the past by reading well written history.

And a good photographic documentary about a place (especially if history is a key factor) can be better than attempting to get to it and being crowded by other people when you get there. Can you get close enough? Can you see it without seeing and hearing other people? Do you feel that you must take photographs? Are you mostly taking photographs and thinking about looking at your photographs later? A better photographer has already taken far better photographs, and you can look at them right now.

William said...

I think as the first step towards building a more egalitarian society we should eliminate first class accommodations on the NY to LA flights.

Irene said...

People assume travel is enjoyable. I also don't like to travel.

I recently retired. Nearly every person who hears the news says something like, "Oh! Now you can travel and enjoy yourself."

What I look forward to most of all is staying at home, keeping the company of the dogs, knitting, and resting.

Ann Althouse said...

You also have to factor all the time and energy getting to and from a place and all the distraction of finding a place to stay, unpacking and packing, always needing to go to a restaurant for your next meal. You could conserve all that time an energy and only perform the most valuable activities in your home environment, with its comfortable bed and bathroom, its closets and drawers, its cupboards and refrigerators.

On a trip, you've got to do things all the time, go out all the time. At home, you could hang out reading and eating things from the refrigerator, then go out and do something only when you want, eat in a restaurant only when that seems like fun. No pressure to maximize activity the way you must when it's a trip.

On a trip, somebody may say: Why are you reading when you can read at home? Or: We need to figure out where the best restaurant is and eat there today.

Travel is something people should pay you to do, and yet you must pay to do it.

Why would you do that when you can stay home, be unpaid, but it's free?

Darrell said...

Ironically, the Antarctic ice began to disappear faster as eco-tourists rushed to sooty ships to see the ice before it disappeared. Maybe they were looking to pull a polar bear or two out of the ocean as well--if they weren't on the wrong pole of the planet to do such a thing. . .

Petunia said...

If you make more than about $34K per year, you're part of the global 1%.

If you want to travel, travel. If you don't, don't. But don't think that either choice makes you superior to someone who chooses to do the other. How arrogant.

Although I will say it's absolutely laughable to think that "seeing" someplace via the internet/a book/TV is anywhere equivalent to seeing it in real life. If you choose to learn about a place by reading about it, that's your choice, and that's fine. I choose to read about it AND visit it if I can. Doesn't make me better than you. Doesn't make me worse.

As for carbon footprints etc. What a joke. I don't have kids. I could drive a gas-guzzler and fly first class all over the world every month and STILL be greener than people who've added children to the world's population.

Henry said...

On a trip, you've got to do things all the time, go out all the time.

I think for some people that is the attraction. Not travelling means you have to live with yourself.

mishu said...

Flitting about the planet is good for the planet. Who cares about some molecule that all us mammals naturally produce and has been in much higher concentrations historically. Flitting about helped evolved our species, helped people escape tyranny, I would argue helped contribute to peace in our time. As travel has become less expensive, people have a greater understanding of each other across the planet. As a result, nations have dropped their spending of defense relative to GDP.

I like flitting to some place warm during the winter like the Caribbean because I get sick of the cold weather and don't want to wait until it gets warm again. Thanks to a lot of people like me, the people of the Caribbean have a nice economy built around that. Prior to Christopher Columbus setting foot oh Hispaniola, things were so desperate in the Caribbean people were eating each other.

If you don't want to flit that's fine. More room for the rest of us who do like to flit.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Petunia,

As for carbon footprints etc. What a joke. I don't have kids. I could drive a gas-guzzler and fly first class all over the world every month and STILL be greener than people who've added children to the world's population.

You could be greener still by committing suicide, you know. Think of all the carbon your very existence is putting into the atmosphere every day! Your mother was obviously a greedy carbon-spewer who had no thought for the planet, since she had at least one child. Why are you compounding her grievous error by remaining alive?

Tank said...

AA:

You also have to factor all the time and energy getting to and from a place and all the distraction of finding a place to stay, unpacking and packing, always needing to go to a restaurant for your next meal. You could conserve all that time an energy and only perform the most valuable activities in your home environment, with its comfortable bed and bathroom, its closets and drawers, its cupboards and refrigerators.

On a trip, you've got to do things all the time, go out all the time. At home, you could hang out reading and eating things from the refrigerator, then go out and do something only when you want, eat in a restaurant only when that seems like fun. No pressure to maximize activity the way you must when it's a trip.

On a trip, somebody may say: Why are you reading when you can read at home? Or: We need to figure out where the best restaurant is and eat there today.


LOL. This is all just personal preference of what you like to do. I enjoy the pre-planning for our vacations almost as much as the vacations. Picking and booking hotels is all done before we leave. Getting there is part of the experience; not always good, but always interesting if you have your eyes open. Sometimes the coolest things happened "on the way" there.

"Always eating out." Haha. I love eating out. It might get old after awhile, but not during a week or two vacation.

You don't have to do things all the time on vacation. We often find a beach type of place for one or two days (even when not on a "beach" vacation) to just chill out (and even read).

But mostly, the only way you can experience "walking in Paris," "visiting Notre Dame," sitting outside at a Paris café and lingering over lunch," etc is to be there.

Here's a picture of Meteora in Greece. It's NOTHING like being there. You can't even explain what it's like. You actually have to be there.

John said...

Actually, everything is worse than a hummer.

The only thing that beats a bad blowjob is a better one.

John Henry

Amexpat said...

Find your true habitat and truly live there. Don't flit. Sit.

Don't you need to travel to find your true habitat?

Travel is something people should pay you to do, and yet you must pay to do it.

Through work and private trips, I've meet thousands of Americans traveling for leisure overseas. Most of them enjoy their trips and would travel more if they had the time and money. Those that don't are usually spouses that have felt obliged to go on a trip with their partner, or first time travelers who don't like it and most likely won't travel again.


Truckee Man said...

If global warming is a crisis then its spokespersons should act like it. All the ones I know drive bigger cars farther than they need to and fly all over the place.

Bruce Hayden said...

I read this as being about gross hypocrisy by those who fly by private jets and then lecture us about sacrificing to prevent AGW. Remembered Laurie David telling women they only needed one square of TP from her private jet. Apparently ditto for Sheryl Crow. Bali was mentioned above, but also notable was Hopenhagen where some of the private jets had to be stored two countries away, because there were so many of them.

Some people have to travel, and for others, it is more problematic. I had maybe 70 flights/legs my last year with my last employer, mostly fairly short ones on SWA. At 4 in the afternoon, someone could ask to meet me the next day in LAS of PHX, and could easily be at the office there by 10, and home that evening.

But the hypocrisy is when someone flies to Paris to shop, and then lectures us on sacrificing for AGW. And it isn't just shopping in Paris - several of the airports in MT fill up every weekend with the private jets of the weekend ranchers whose day jobs are in NYC or LA. Every weekend, and then they try to lecture on sustainable farming.

Peter said...

Is there anyone who would dare suggest that Muslims not make the hajj (or find a low-carbon way to do so)?

Brian said...

There is an unfortunate tendency for folks to say, in effect "my pastimes are really living; your pastimes are a waste of time." It is by no means confined to travelers; it's just funnier when they do it, because they tend to claim as the principal benefit of travel an enhanced ability to see the world from other points of view.

Ann Althouse said...

" I enjoy the pre-planning for our vacations almost as much as the vacations. Picking and booking hotels is all done before we leave. Getting there is part of the experience; not always good, but always interesting if you have your eyes open. Sometimes the coolest things happened "on the way" there."

I think this is key to liking to travel: that you like planning... and even "pre-planning," which is, I suppose, planning to plan. I prefer living in the moment. You can do spontaneous road trips, but even then, you have to think ahead to where you are going.

""Always eating out." Haha. I love eating out. It might get old after awhile, but not during a week or two vacation."

I love eating out or in, but what I don't love is having it be that every time I'm hungry, I need to go out. I want to go out because I want to go out, not because I'm hungry, which happens too often. It can be boring, finding another restaurant, waiting for service. At home, you can choose to eat 2 meals at home and then go out in the evening. Or not.

"You don't have to do things all the time on vacation. We often find a beach type of place for one or two days (even when not on a "beach" vacation) to just chill out (and even read)."

And you can think, this would be so much better at home. Whenever I travel, I think I'd rather be home. I can still enjoy things, but then when it comes time to think about traveling again, I remember that feeling. I could spend hours getting somewhere and then wish I was come.

"But mostly, the only way you can experience "walking in Paris," "visiting Notre Dame," sitting outside at a Paris café and lingering over lunch," etc is to be there."

I've been to Paris twice, and I love seeing the great cathedrals, but the truth is reading the history of the middle ages in France would get you closer to reality. I loved walking around the city, and walking around a cool city is one of my favorite things to do, BUT I can walk around Madison... and sit outside in a Madison café and linger over any food any time here.

Being anywhere is a real experience. Being alive, being a human being on Planet Earth. It's truly amazing, down to the last scintilla, and your home is loaded with scintillas. Don't ever forget.

Original Mike said...

"why do we require a trip to Mount Everest in order to be able to perceive one moment of reality?"

Climbing Mt. Everest isn't about one moment of "reality" at the summit. It's about the challenge of reaching the summit. I don't think it's a very good analogy to the point you are making regarding travel.

Edgehopper said...

De gustibis non est disputandum. Or in the more modern phrase, "Different strokes for different folks?"

People travel for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you want to see a different culture. Sometimes you want to see unique things. Sometimes you want to go to an all-inclusive resort, relax, and be waited on, Sometimes you want to go to Disney World and be enclosed in their fantasy bubble for a week. Sometimes you want to go on a cruise and get a little of everything--relaxation, service, and entertainment. And sometimes you just want to stay home and enjoy your community. Who's to say what's better?

Original Mike said...

I have an opportunity to observe through a 60-inch diameter telescope on Mt. Wilson (California) in September. Much as I would love to do that, I don't think I'm going because air travel is such a pain in the ass. With all the effort to spend that brief period of time observing (if it's not cloudy), I think I'd rather stay home and work toward completion of my projects.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson, tongue in cheek, advises Petunia: You could be greener still by committing suicide, you know.

DON'T DO IT, PETUNIA! You personally are sequestering 2/3 of your body weight in carbon dioxide, according to my own rigorously established formula: link. If you pull the plug, all those pounds of CO2 will irreversibly return to the troposphere, only to become useful again after some plant incorporates your molecules and somebody else eats that plant.

Tibore said...

"No, but living at home in your actual culture, involving yourself with people in your community is superior to efforts at getting into someone else's culture."

Superior? I'm not sure I can agree with that. Insularity would be a reversal of how the worlds societies have evolved through the centuries. I would view that as being detrimental to future human development.

It's like your quote of the "Walled Garden" allusion from yesterday. Such societies are condemned to stagnation.

I fully agree with McArdle that there's a lot of hypocrisy in whining about Global Warming while using up resources to travel. But the negative impact of climate issues do not change the fact that mobility has been a defining trait of modern society as well as liberated, growing economies, and reversing that threatens a regression. I don't want another Dark Ages. And the loss of cultures interacting sets the conditions for exactly that.

El Pollo Raylan said...

What I enjoyed most about traveling was living abroad and working at the same time. I lived in Zurich for two years which was centrally located for excursions to Italy, France, and Germany. And Europeans have obscenely long paid vacations which they insist that you take. Now, I was more than compliant about learning the languages, which only helped. I would do it all over again and perhaps even stay. It is next to impossible to truly "fit in" in a place like Switzerland, but after a while, you realize that maybe you wouldn't want to anyway.

jr565 said...

If you REALLY care about global warming, you shouldn't e using computers to either host blogs, or to comment on blogs. What is the carbon footprint of "The Internet" what with all the servers hosting millions of websites, all run on fossil fuel.

Mcardle's point, I don't think, is to say we should have no air travel. But rather an indictment of the global warming promoters, who villify things like SUV's as if they are not similarly causing warming with their actions. They're trying to villanize heavier while not recognizing that their shit stinks too, and that arguments are a load of crap.

For example, if someone owns an SUV, but has a family of four and lives in a small house is he the worse offender than an Al Gore, who has an SUV, but has a huge mansion (requiring exhorbitantly amounts of energy) and fly around the world in jets attending global warning conventions (along with all the other big shots who similarly did the same) just to promote how we need to reduce our global footprint.

Every time I hear some global warming promoter preach about how we have to do something on an I telnet chatboard I want to reach out and punch them in the face. If you REALLY thought GW was a problem, you wouldn't be wasting time and expending energy to get your drivel up on a chatboard, you'd be railing against the Internet.

Charles said...

T.S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding" (the last of the Four Quartets)

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

raf said...

cubanbob said: Too esoteric. Just shoot the greens

Are those soylent greens, perhaps?

Alex said...

I'm with Ann. Learn to live within yourself and experience the world via the internet.

jr565 said...

Petunia wrote:
As for carbon footprints etc. What a joke. I don't have kids. I could drive a gas-guzzler and fly first class all over the world every month and STILL be greener than people who've added children to the world's population.

seriously. I live in Manhattan in a small two bedroom apartment, have no kids and no car.
if I had two SUV's I still wouldnt be as bad as Al Gore, or Leo dicaprio, in terms of the energy required to fuel my life. And yet they're the one acting like sanctimonious pricks about the environment.

Think of the amount of energy required to make, produce and distribute a movie. Traveling to and from the set, all the construction and demolition required to make a set. All the computers required to produce the special effects. All the plastic required to make DVD's. all the freight trains, planes and autos required to get DVD's into stores. Then all the people who have to use cars to drive to movie theaters. And then when its on cable, all the energy expended to be able to watch it on the big screen TV.
And in most cases, the movie sucks balls. Considering the amount of energy expenditure required to make a single Movie, Shouldn't Hollywood actors bow their heads in shame if the movie they Produce isn't an artistic masterpiece? Its bad enough that they make us pay for dreck, but they're destroying the environment in doing so, and the result is often Transformers 2, or Lone Ranger or Saw IV. Since they believe that global warming is such a threat to the world?

They're justified producing their crappy product that enriches no one but themselves, and allows them to live like kings, but they will lecture the common man on his use of SUV's.
Screw them.

traditionalguy said...

I surrender. Home is better than all of the new places put together.

But I still have vivid memories of long stays in places like Stratford, Ontario, Charleston, SC, San Francisco/Sonoma/Carmel, CA and even Walla Walla, WA.

And what about all those Wisconsin monuments erected at battlefields all over Georgia. And they walked here.

Secret: a round of golf clears the head as good as a short trip. And new golf courses are everywhere we go, while the one we have played 100 times is not all that exciting....not that exciting is important.

Ralph Hyatt said...

The professor's description of herself indicates to me that she is what was once called a homebody.

My mother-in-law is the same way. She has no interest in travel and cannot fathom why anyone wants to leave their comfortable house and subject themselves to the indignities of the road.

I think those of us who do like to travel do so because it feels adventurous. We want to be taken out of our routines and subjected to novel experiences.

anon2 said...

"Being anywhere is a real experience. Being alive, being a human being on Planet Earth. It's truly amazing, down to the last scintilla, and your home is loaded with scintillas. Don't ever forget."

What a great statement...very Berry-esque. For a moment I thought I was at the Front Porch Republic or The American Conservative.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Also, the desire to travel is not new. The premise of The Canterbury Tales is a group of strangers going on a pilgrimage together and telling each other tales to keep each other entertained.

There is no theological basis for going on pilgrimages in Christianity. People did it because they wanted to travel and see something miraculous.

I suspect our desire to travel is related to our desire, as a species, to expand our range.

Crunchy Frog said...

What drove me nuts we the credit card commercials (Chase?) with the rich couple that jets off to some exotic locale and then wants to spend the whole time laying out by the hotel pool and reading a book.

You're freaking rich. You don't have a pool? You could have one installed for the money you're spending on your two weeks in Club Med fercryinoutloud.

Crunchy Frog said...

What drove me nuts we the credit card commercials (Chase?) with the rich couple that jets off to some exotic locale and then wants to spend the whole time laying out by the hotel pool and reading a book.

You're freaking rich. You don't have a pool? You could have one installed for the money you're spending on your two weeks in Club Med fercryinoutloud.

damikesc said...

Hey, let's fly representatives of 180 nations from all over the planet to a tropical resort so they can debate how best to reduce everyone's carbon footprint!

You missed the word "else's" in that sentence there, but great point otherwise.

And I have no doubt people can figure out where the word is missing.

When airports have waiting lines for flights, then you have a joke of an issue.

I'll concur with Instapundit forever: I'll treat this like a crisis when they finally ACT like it's a crisis.

If my car is going to kill the world, how are your numerous flights and lifestyles that waste far more resources than I can hope to going to avoid doing that?

Environmentalism is racism. Keep those brown-skinned folks who'd like to develop the way we developed down by pricing everything to where they cannot achieve it.

Do I buy that this is a crisis? No. But I'm also not suckering rubes into giving me money about it.

jimbino said...

Yes, I so much loved taking refuge at home. My home, however, in both Europe and throughout South America, was a VW Van outfitted with bed, overhead rack, cooking tools and, most importantly, a library and a shortwave radio.

It was the best of both worlds: For over two years, I traveled and "camped" in the very center of great cities like Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, as well as at naturist beaches like Praia do Pinho, Isle du Levant and Cap d'Agde. When it got dark, I retreated briefly to a pub and later to my van.

Two could live then (40 and 25 years ago) on less than $1000 per month, most of the expense being gasoline.

Times have changed: gas is more expensive, as are hotels and pubs, though a person could tour Venezuela pretty well at 15 cents/gallon in a V-8 Cadillac.

There is no BBC or Voice of Amerika shortwave to be heard any longer in South America, though you can still get BBC intended for Africa, but what is that? News of Africa while you're traveling in South America!

In compensation, of course, is the fact that WiFi is available in so many places.

It's exhilarating to learn foreign languages, and in my travels I have managed to communicate well in Greek, Hebrew, German, Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Serbo-Croatian. In Munich, I even had a torrid affair in Latin with an Italian girl with whom I had, at the time, no other common language!

Yes, the difference between tourist and traveler are many: the tourist has a destination, no time, lots of money, and no interest in getting to know the locals, let alone learn their language; the traveler has no destination, reveling in the journey, lots of time, little money, and a great interest in learning the language and in communicating (even romancing) with the locals.

It should be noted, however, that while you are traveling, all of that Obamacare that continues to cost you $6000 in annual premiums back in the States will be of no use to you whatsoever in the Amazon. Ditto Medicare and Medicaid.

A traveler nowadays has a great incentive to seek citizenship in Cuenca, Ecuador and renounce his Amerikan citizenship, as so many folks have done. Those $6000 wasted on Obamacare would finance close to a year's sojourn in an apartment in Cuenca.

traditionalguy said...

The first thing a trial lawyer does is go visit the scene of the accident or crime, several times.

That is because all of the gathering of detailed written reports, witness statements and glossy photos are not that understandable until we have gone there and stood there ourselves and walked around. That is when our brains suddenly "see it." We only fool ourselves if we skip doing that.

And how many people read the Gospels all of their life, but say that it wasn't until they visited Galilee and Jerusalem that it all made perfect sense.

Mamie said...

Why, in Heaven's name, does anyone in 2013 need to be in the same room with his/her colleagues for a business discussion?

I worked on several federal contracts and saw a lot of time and money spent on conferences. Here's one dirty little secret about them: They're the place where everyone lines up the next plum job. And the job-hunt starts day one on every single job.

Kirk Parker said...

I think I'm going to disagree here.

YES, photography and videography provide interesting ways to get in touch with other places; some of these are better than being there in person. (Example: I lived in equatorial Africa for 5 years, but the only time I've ever seen a herd of elephants fight off a lion trying to grab one of the youngsters was on some BBC video.)

And YES, reading a well-written book of history gives you different information than just wandering through some historical site.

BUT... ... ... it's a mistake to call one of these better than the other; the proper term is different. Sure, we all differ in how much value we get from each type of experience, but for me I want both sides. I have read a lot of American history, and don't regret the time spent on any of it*; but actually seeing the changing of the guard at Arlington, or visiting John Paul Jones' tomb, or actually walking on the decks of the USS Constitution and HMS Victory gave me something else I couldn't possibly have gotten from the reading alone.


"Travel is something people should pay you to do, and yet you must pay to do it. "

Ah, echoes of Ishmael. ;-)


-----------------------
*Alert readers might conclude that Zinn's work was not among my reading; they will be correct.

Carl said...

McArdle used to be more interested in looking beneath the surface of canards and conventional wisdom and dissecting it a little. It's a shame she didn't here.

For example, I think there are logically only two solutions to the ecological impact of more people: (1) less people, or more precisely less total economic activity (so more people but a lot poorer each also works), or (2) more technology, i.e. generating the same economic activity far more efficiently.

We can get poorer or we can get smarter. But that's about it. There is no magic "Avatar" solution, where having pure souls and living in harmony with animals will instantiate a life of ease, where crispy bacon grows on trees year-round, mosquitos neither bite nor carry malaria, women never die in childbirth for lack of penicillin, and no Einstein or Lincoln of the tribe catches pneumonia and dies at age 16 because the Mother Tree happened to lack sufficient leaf area to defend everyone against the nasty cold front that blew through.

Those who think differently are the modern incarnation of the medieval Catholic priest, who believed saying the rosary twelve times a day could rescue you from the travails of physical existence. The crops failed because God is punishing us for our impiety. Repent! Turned out sound metallurgy, crop rotation and the Magna Carta were about 3000x more useful than purifying the soul.

Of the two realistic solutions, certainly there's a swathe of people who favor (1), because it's easy, and because they count on being among the elite of that declining society. There's nothing wrong with being the Emperor of Rome in decline; you still get all the perks and power. But to hell with them. Fighting to be the Captain of RMS Titanic as it steams out of Liverpool is too dispiriting to contemplate.

So then you have to ask: what contribution does the jetting around of the 1% make to the technological progress which is our only hope? Unfortunately the answer is quite a lot. We're not talking about the Al Gores and Davos organizers of the world. Those people are parasites under all cirx; they don't contribute by flying around, but they wouldn't contribute by staying home, either. Maybe they'd do even more harm, spending less time locked into metal tubes and less bemused by jet lag. I'd favor finding the most busybodyish and paying them to spend all their time jetting around attending conferences with each other. Call it the Golgafrinchan Ark B solution.

But when Toyota flies an elite engineering team from Japan to Tennessee to confer with the plant managers about some weird glitch on the assembly line that's costing kilo-man-hours, or when scientist A meets B at a conference to which they were drawn by mutual interest and a powerful synergistic interaction is born, or when the VP of GE gets with the VP of Boeing to hash out some deal that cuts costs at both and enriches 50,000 retirees with GE and Boeing stock in their 401(k)s -- these have enormous positive externalities.

And they cannot be done by Skype and e-mail. You need the uniquely high bandwidth of in-person communication.

So there are serious challenges to the shibboleth that the 1% should stop flying and save the planet. There's a decent chance that if the 1% (or rather some unknown 50-80% of the 1%) stopped flying, the planet would fare worse. That's sufficiently counter-intuitive, or at least swimming against the tide of majority opinion, that it would be worth a careful column of exploration.

Phaedrus said...

Can you start a post and thread on the adverse economic and environmental impact of pets? The same tree huggers that yammer on and on about the environment allow their pets to use everyone else property, public and private as a restroom for their animal. Human waste has to be treated under all kinds of regulatory requirements. Pets are allowed to deposit equivalent waste at will wherever as if they are wild animals which they aren't. And don't get me started on what it takes to feed them, the grain, meat etc. You could feed a lot of starving people using the grain that goes into pet food.

lgv said...

"1. Why is it important to be stimulated?"

Because we like it? I'm not clear on the question. Just like whether Mt. Everest is more real than NYC. I'm not sure finding reality is the why people go to Everest.

Why does Althouse travel locally? You post all those "Cafe" photos. Why paddle board? Is it to be stimulated? If so, why? Why do you feel it necessary to travel at all? For what purpose do you go out to the country side within driving distance? Is it wrong to find it preferably to do the same thing for the same reason, only farther away from home?

Back to point of carbon footprints. What no one will define for me is this great debate is whether a reduction in one's carbon footprint be in absolute or relative terms. If Al Gore uses geothermal to heat his 10,000 sq. ft. home, has he done as much for the planet as the low-income person who maintains the same low footprint lifestyle?

It is as it has always been. The elite are allowed to do things that they want to forbid all others from doing because it is for the greater good. Their carbon excess is required in order to help others reduce their footprint, hence all the private jets flying into Bali for the global warming conference.

Mark Trade said...

I opted out of both car ownership and use until I was 29. I lived in Milwaukee, where I was born and raised. I purposefully chose to live close to work, the supermarket, and other places I needed. I walked or rode my bike everywhere I needed to go. I loved exploring the city. I ran something like 70 marathons and ultra marathons through the area. Once I ran trough all 19 municipalities in milw county in one day!

No one was bugging my ass about global warming.

I made the mistake of buying a car when I was 29 because, well, I thought it'd help get me a girlfriend! All it did, though, was help me gain weight.

I since moved moved to Tucson--I drove here! Exploring, trying to live in and experience a new place. Thinking about selling my car. It would be hard to go back to that life, but I enjoyed it more. It was more rewarding. I miss the water, rivers, and Wisconsin lakes. Someday I will travel somewhere else.

I needed a taxi one day here and I asked the driver, who really needs a car? Transportation sevices should be handled by businesses mostly, when people need them. But she said, people beed cars of they have families. They can't just have their kids walk everywhere. I suppose. But I don't have kids and won't for the foreseeable future.

Anyone want my car? :)

Hunter said...

+1 for Carl's comment.

Driving Hummers, jetting to Europe, and buying fruit from Chile are all classified as environment "sins" because (a) they have a directly visisble energy component and (b) they are to some extent discretionary.

But here's the thing. The energy content of those activities is not nearly as high as imagined by those who rail against them. The cost of building and the the labor to operate a jetliner costs much more than the fuel. The fuel required to bring fruit home from the grocery store far exceeds the cost to bring it there from around the world. And those indirect costs are indirect users of energy as well. The jet pilot and stewardess use their salaries to support their own energy-rich lifestyles.

The best metric for energy usage is consumption, and the best proxy for that is dollars spent. So just as Carl said, the only way to save energy is to poorer or smarter. My vote is for smarter, but the enviros prefer poorer so long as they can be richer in relative terms.

Hunter said...

+1 for Carl's comment.

Driving Hummers, jetting to Europe, and buying fruit from Chile are all classified as environment "sins" because (a) they have a directly visisble energy component and (b) they are to some extent discretionary.

But here's the thing. The energy content of those activities is not nearly as high as imagined by those who rail against them. The cost of building and the the labor to operate a jetliner costs much more than the fuel. The fuel required to bring fruit home from the grocery store far exceeds the cost to bring it there from around the world. And those indirect costs are indirect users of energy as well. The jet pilot and stewardess use their salaries to support their own energy-rich lifestyles.

The best metric for energy usage is consumption, and the best proxy for that is dollars spent. So just as Carl said, the only way to save energy is to poorer or smarter. My vote is for smarter, but the enviros prefer poorer so long as they can be richer in relative terms.

cubanbob said...

af said...
cubanbob said: Too esoteric. Just shoot the greens

Are those soylent greens, perhaps?

8/14/13, 1:13 PM

Hmmm fried with tomato slice and Tabasco on a bun.... with a cold one sounds good to me!Good thinking!

cubanbob said...

af said...
cubanbob said: Too esoteric. Just shoot the greens

Are those soylent greens, perhaps?

8/14/13, 1:13 PM

Hmmm fried with tomato slice and Tabasco on a bun.... with a cold one sounds good to me!Good thinking!

Terry said...

Charles wrote:
T.S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding" (the last of the Four Quartets)

Eliot was only writing about exploring as being a metaphor for the experience of reality.

Henry said...

and your home is loaded with scintillas

Are those the ones that cannot blink or the ones that lose their tails? I can never remember.

Bella said...

I found this post with the following search "Doesn't anyone else think it is ironic that the Ecoevangelists are flying to Rio to become certified Climate Reality Leaders?
I called one of my several flights a year friends on air travel habits as she was criticizing the straw man "gotta have a suburban" families. She said in all seriousness, "what, do you think I should stop flying to visit my relatives?" I had to think about it but my answer is "yes", if you are going to judge someone for using a Suburban, you better by golly have a lower carbon footprint than they do. Since everyone she knows who owns a large 4 wheel drive pick up with a crew cab (much more common than suburbans around here) actually has good reasons to have them, she had to have gotten her phraseology from a righteous left blog or news letter which is careful not to actually criticize the habits of its constituency.
My recipe for saving the earth -
Move to a smaller house (instead of building a huge new "green one", 2) closer to work so you can 3)either walk, or afford to drive your old car until it drops, and 4) get your climate reality leadership certification online.