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
- 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.
- Conference organisers stop flying in plenary speakers to grandstand their events. Again, video-conferencing is the obvious answer.
- 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.