It often strikes me–and others–as I report on my travels in this blog series that I love a remarkably privileged live. It also strikes me that the air travel component is something that future generations will not be able to enjoy unless there is an unforeseen breakthrough in carbon-neutral flight. Reading Helen Simpson’s wonderful collection of short stories a few days back, called In-Flight Entertainment, I was reminded of this concern by her story Ahead of the Pack.
In it, a personal carbon emissions consultant says something rather memorable about photograph albums. Given the pace of climate change, he notes, and the first bit of this is something I have often said, the world will be looking around for scapegoats. “Children will be accusing parents, and wise parents will have disappeared all visual evidence of Dad’s gap year in South America and Mum on Ayers Rock and the whole gang over in Florida waiting in line to shake Mickey’s hand.”
Both at SustainAbility and at Volans, we have long offset our carbon emissions, in many cases doubling our offsets and asking clients to do likewise. But, as I argued when we started perhaps 9 or 10 years ago, this really has been a bit like the medieval indulgences that were meant absolve you from your sins. So then the only excuse I’m left with is that the work we do when we get to the other end is God’s work–well, good work at least. But In-Flight Entertainment has picked at an uncomfortable scab.