Photo pulled from this compelling article in Science Magazine:

The accelerating cascade of news about the frightening, exponential rate of global heating due to human-caused green house gase emissions (GHG’s) — and “feedback loop” systems of GHG’s released from the arctic tundra, seas and elsewhere due to rapid planetary melting of snow and ice has many of us considering our carbon footprints with a bit more gravity than before.

Greta Thunberg, our role model purist and a personal Shero, chose to take a carbon-free sail boat from Europe to New York to speak before the United Nations and generally, does not fly. In Germany and Europe, flights have been down by as much as 12 percent due to “flight shame” or flygskam.

Flying and resultant “traveling” emit roughly eight percent of our overall GHG’s and yet there is also some argument to be made that flight emissions contribute to the “global dimming effect.” So while we are heating the atmosphere through flying, by adding to the blanket of heating molocules in our atmosphere, we are also creating a short-lived layer of sun ray reflection that is keeping our planet a bit cooler overall.

What a mess!

IMHO, a gradual yet consistent decrease in flying is in order and there are so many considerations. Who gets to fly, and who does not, and for what reasons? Here’s my list, ranked in order of who should get to fly most to … well, the least. Take it with a grain of salt, and a dry martini or a potent blunt. We need all the help we can get these days.

Who Gets To Fly

  1. Rock stars. Because we will always need rock and roll.*
  2. Russell Brand. Who seems like a rock star. For trying to help, for using his privilege to help, even if it seems, sometimes, a bit messy. Also, because I’ve always had a crush on him.
  3. Environmental and climate activists, indigenous activists, scientists and those working on Earth-friendly, regenerative mitigation and adaptation solutions. Because they are the most important people on Earth right now, with the most important jobs on Earth. Put them in First Class, for God’s sake. And please stop harassing them for flying. They have been doing far more good work on this issue, probably, than you or I.
  4. Me. Just kidding. I’m cutting back on flying. I purchase carbon offsets to mitigate my GHG release. However, my understanding is that all these really do, more or less, is assuage my own guilt. Maybe they plant a few trees. Well, I’ll take it.
  5. People traveling for the sake of births and/or weddings and/or illnesses and/or deaths in their families or beloved friend circles. People traveling to be with family (birth-family or chosen), in general. We truly need each other now. Family strength is essential.
  6. Spiritual and wellness teachers and practitioners. We also need them now more than ever (and I do not list these because I am one. Not totally, anyway).
  7. People who have never flown before and deserve to see the globe as many of us have already done. Especially before it goes up in flames (or underwater).
  8. Important and uncompromised government officials as well as global organizational leaders working very, very hard on mitigating the climate crisis with a sober understanding of what the actual level of crisis is now (really fucking bad) and a committment to saving as much of life on Earth as possible by whatever means necessary. This will be a very, very low number of people, anyway. Negligible. Probably should not even list.

People Who Should Not Fly At This Time

  1. People with private jets and planes who can take a regular flight like everybody else. Welcome to our world. It’s not so bad. We still get peanuts.
  2. Businesspeople who can do business over the phone or via a web-based conferencing system, preferably sourcing energy from renewables.
  3. Any of us who can relatively easily take a bus, train or other form of transportation that would get us there a bit more slowly, but get us there nonetheless. I include myself.
  4. Donald Trump, the Trump family. Just because. … Containment is good. Also, while I’m at it, Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Roger Stone (once out of prison), Paul Manafort (ditto), Steve Bannon, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Mnuchin, Stephen Miller, most members of the current US cabinet, Scott Pruitt (current dismantler of the US EPA), Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al Assad, Jair Bolsonaro, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, Kim Jong Un, the royal Saudi family … unless they are flying to attend their own criminal hearings or trials, as necessitated by law. I may be missing some ne’r-do-wells here. Probably, like, a few hundred thousand, worldwide. … Maybe more? God help us.
  5. Any person or individual who continues seek profit off the demise of Earth’s ecosystems, and who is risking life on Earth because they are unable to consider the bigger picture, the interconnectedness of life and their own capacity to “let go” and relinquish for the greater good. These folks should be in the opposite of “Fast Track” at the aiport. They should be in an airport security line that cycles them back out the front door of the terminal.
  6. Fossil fuel industry executives. Particularly ExxonMobile executives — and particularly those who engaged in coverup and denial of fossil fuel-caused global heating — who should actually be standing trial as I write for Crimes Against Humanity and Global Ecocide. Shame!
  7. Heartless Institute program directors, managers and executives. No words.
  8. Anyone who can stop. Anyone who can reduce. You know who you are and I do, once again, include my very own self.

*This, of course, is a joke. Kind of. I’d like to give a pass to musicians and artists and dancers and all of those who elevate us emotionally and spiritually at this time. On other hand, groups like Cold Play and Massive Attack are already working on sorting out how to tour with less nor no emissions … Bloody good on them!

Informative resource:

More on carbon offsets:


Author, coach, teacher & former investigative journalist: San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Inc. Magazine, Metro SJ, Recipient of 3 CNPA First Place awards.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store