Stop Flying

We’re stumbling towards environmental catastophe. One way we can help prevent this catastophe is to appreciate the harm flying does and to commit to flying as little as possible.

In a recent post, Sandy Millin gives a list of some of the things she does to try to reduce her impact on the environment. They include some good suggestions, but they ignore the issue of flying. “I’m very aware that I fly far too much” she says, but she says nothing more about it. It’s an issue that surely needs addressing.

I suggest that

  1. Teacher trainer / developers make every effort to avoid flying. Video-conferencing is the obvious alternative. It means changing the way the courses are delivered, but it can be done.
  2. Conference organisers stop flying in plenary speakers to grandstand their events. Again, video-conferencing is the obvious answer.
  3. More local, smaller conferences should replace the huge, international events. Yes, there’s a downside, but this is an emergency.

So I urge everybody to make a commitment not to fly to any conference ever again, and to boycott any local teacher development event where some ‘expert’ is flown in from thousands of miles away to lead the event.

A commitment to reduce flying to a minimum in the ELT world would have enormous, beneficial results. Not only would it help the environment, it would also help to stimulate local initiative, and to promote local organisations and local talent.

There are tremendous opportunities as well as uncomfortable costs involved in taking drastic action to reverse the effects of climate change now. As an anarchist, I think we’d gain enormously from scaling down, focusing on our local community, organising more widely through networks, deconstructing the state. Wooops! That last bit will maybe put people off, but this is, of course, a question of politics, and I’m happy to discuss the politics involved.

We’re on the cupse. We either ignore the threat, or we act. Action involves lots of things, including all the things that Sandy Millin lists. But right at the top of the list is to change the way we think about flying.


3 thoughts on “Stop Flying

  1. Thanks for linking to my post and for writing this response. I have already started to try to reduce my reliance on flying. For example, I’m waiting for train tickets to come out on October 15th to book my trains back to the UK for Christmas. I’ll also be going to a conference in November by either train or bus and I got to my CELTA in Strasbourg in 2018 entirely by train as well. I’ll also be presenting a seminar via Skype in November for a colleague in Morocco who will return the favour a few months later. Unfortunately my plan to only take three flights all summer was frustratingly scuppered by my health, meaning I had to add four flights to get the treatment that I needed 😦 and still be able to fulfil the commitments I had made in the UK and Israel months before.
    I’m also aiming to get things started in our local area in terms of promoting local talent and more, but it’s a long slow process!
    I completely agree that this is something that needs to be done, and I wish everybody luck who’s trying to do it!

  2. Hi Sandy,

    Very sorry not to have acknowledged your comment earlier. Thanks for your reply, which speaks for itself.

    I’ve just come back from a trip to the UK which involved a return flight; I looked into travelling by train and it was just too slow and complicated, but I suppose I could / should have made the effort.

    The important thing is to be aware of the problem, to do what we can to reduce our carbon footprints, and to push for changes in the conference circuit, and the “Fly in an expert” mentality in PD.

    I hope you’re now fit and well.

  3. Just thought I’d add an update – I’m trying very hard to use the train/bus for my journeys whenever possible next year. I do already have 3 flights booked, but it could have been up to 10 for the same journeys. It’s more planning and travelling time, but it’s not that much more expensive, and I’m really looking forward to all of the journeys so far. The first one starts at 11am next Saturday, so we’ll see if I’m still saying that once I’ve completed it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s