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Flygskam & Tagskryt August 7, 2019

Posted by nrhatch in Less IS More, Sustainable Living, Travel & Leisure.

Spurred by global warming, more and more travelers are spurning plane travel to ride the rails.  The savings in carbon emissions is considerable:

This is the season of flygskam, or “flight shame.” You don’t have to be Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who recently announced plans to sail to New York in August, to recognize that a growing number of Europeans eager to reduce their carbon footprint are opting to limit air travel in favor of more environmentally-friendly means of transportation.

Significant enough that even airlines are taking note, flygskam–and its counterpart tagskryt, or train-bragging—is encouraging both European governments and private rail companies to consider investing in the return of long-distance night trains. But the revival of a form of transport that has long seemed consigned to the pages of Agatha Christie novels poses significant obstacles of its own.

Flygskam as a concept started in Sweden and is now taking off in the states:

The idea that acting responsibly entails flying less is even spreading to the United States. A jet propulsion scientist at NASA started No Fly Climate Sci in 2017 as a platform for earth scientists who wanted to make public commitments to reducing their carbon footprints. Kim Cobb was one of the scientists to sign up.

A few years ago, [Cobb’s] research into the large-scale destruction of reefs prompted the professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech University to examine her own carbon footprint a few years ago. “I was gobsmacked at how large a portion—85%—was locked in from flying, mostly for professional meetings and conferences, and, some for field research. As a scientist, I couldn’t unsee those numbers.”

In 2018, Cobb managed to cut her flight miles by 75%, going from an average of 125,000-plus a year, to 25,000 or 30,000.

To read more:

In Europe, the Movement to Give Up Air Travel Is Taking Off. Could the U.S. Be Next?

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. mybeautfulthings - August 7, 2019

We are thinking that this next flight to America in September will be our last but that is so very hard when my kid sister lives in Hawaii and my kid brother in Atlanta. My older brother lives in Munich and we have a son and family in Barcelona…….
We are doing all we can to offset this, have planted 10 trees in our quite small garden but it is very worrying.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Instead of not visiting family, make sure to counter-balance each flight you take with a nice long leisurely visit.

What I mean is that flying somewhere for a short weekend getaway is rather pointless. But if you fly over and stay for two weeks than the per diem carbon emissions is much less!

mybeautfulthings - August 7, 2019

Thank you for that. I am fighting the guilt but we will be in USA for 18 days this time. D is coming over to Seattle to meet us at her son’s place so we are seeing lots of family and doing as you suggest. 🙂

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

Enjoy your visit to the max!!!

2. Rivergirl - August 7, 2019

I’ve always loved rail travel… but sadly admit flying is quicker and more convenient.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

I don’t think people need to STOP flying. What does need to stop is the senseless bouncing around from point A to point B for a quick weekend jaunt to here and to there due to FOMO.

We are NOT ping pong balls after all.

And people need to learn how to spend 5 minutes at a time alone in a room by themselves without feeling the need to GO, GO, GO or DO, DO, DO.

Just BE . . . Aah!

Rivergirl - August 7, 2019

I’m a bit of a weirdo that way, if I don’t get enough alone time? I tend to twitch.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Me too! My recipe for happiness ~> Lots of alone time with just a sprinkling of people, please.

3. Ally Bean - August 7, 2019

I’m happy to report that I’m spurning plane travel. Not because I want to save the planet [which I do], but because the airlines tick me off every time I fly. Therefore, inadvertently, I’m helping the planet thrive– and my blood pressure remain stable. Win, win, I’d say.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Other than speed and convenience, flying is an unpleasant way to travel. All those people crammed in a metal tube, breathing the same air. And missed connections. Travel Delays. Lost Luggage. Plus, the TSA regulations are annoying. And, most likely, pointless.

I’ll stick to terra firma too!

4. Jill Weatherholt - August 7, 2019

I haven’t flown in over 14 years and I don’t miss it one bit.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

I’ve flown twice since 9/11/2001. I don’t miss it either. Especially since I prefer NOT to pack light.

I enjoyed the auto train from Florida to DC. Pack the car, leave everything but an overnight bag in the car, and ride the rails!

Jill Weatherholt - August 7, 2019

I don’t know how to pack light! 🙂 My experience with the auto train wasn’t as pleasant. I was traveling alone and was chased around the train all night by a drunken old man. LOL

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

I am NOT laughing “at you” . . . I am laughing with you. 😛 And at the image your comment elicited ~ I’m picturing Tim Conway in hot pursuit.

That might make for a very funny short story. As long as the damsel in distress WINS the day!

5. Tippy Gnu - August 7, 2019

Believe me, I hate flying about as much as I hate visiting the doctor. If my wife enjoyed long car rides as much as I do, I’d make all our vacations road trips. It’s pretty amazing though, that so much of the overall carbon footprint is from airline travel. Dang those Wright brothers.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Flying is for the birds!

joyroses13 - August 7, 2019

Brad hates flying too, for it kills his ears! I actually like flying but after riding the train, I will gladly take that over flying and long road trips are fun! As long as one stops at the rest stops when needed! 🙂

Tippy Gnu - August 7, 2019

The very last sentence in your comment is what kills long road trips. Why can’t women grow bigger bladders?

joyroses13 - August 7, 2019

“Very funny!” When you think of a way to grow a bigger bladder let me know!

Tippy Gnu - August 8, 2019

Alright. I’ll put my thinker to work right now. Ummmmmm. I’ll get back to you.

joyroses13 - August 8, 2019

Don’t fry your “thinker” by thinking too hard! 😀

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

Having a “bathroom on board” is the way to go! Roadtrips in our camper van were great! Drinks in the mini fridge. And a way to dispose of said drinks in the on board lavatory. 😀

joyroses13 - August 8, 2019

Ahh, yes! The perfect solution!! 🙂

nrhatch - August 8, 2019


6. Kate Crimmins - August 7, 2019

Air travel is as exciting as a colonoscopy.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Funny you should say that . . . I got my Cologuard results yesterday and am cleared for take off for another 3 years. Yay!

Kate Crimmins - August 7, 2019

Not so funny story. Had a bad experience last colonoscopy. My long-time colorectal doc was a little too old. Anyhow I’ve been getting notices to come back for another one (he’s retired but still…). I called to ask about Cologuard and was told that “they were in the colonoscopy business” and rarely use it. I’ll ask my primary care doc to “prescribe” it for me. Seriously? Colonoscopy business? What’s up with that?

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

My primary care doctor had a kit on my doorstep one week after my appointment with him.

If you get a positive result, you still need a colonoscopy. But if you are “low risk” and get a negative result, you can breathe easy for a few years. Huzzah!

7. colonialist - August 7, 2019

The trouble in South Africa is that the rail infrastructure has been allowed to go to the dogs. That means that haulage is done by trucks and passengers use cars or fly.

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

We’ve got similar issues here. We need to put money into more sustainable transportation options . . . but it’s a slow go.

8. L. Marie - August 7, 2019

I’d love to the take the train somewhere! Sounds fun!

nrhatch - August 7, 2019

Maybe you can take a train trip soon. Choo Choo!

9. Debra - August 7, 2019

This was fascinating! I do love train travel and have enjoyed quite a bit of it within the state and a couple of times across country. It isn’t all that practical at times, but it’s very enjoyable. I’d love to do more! 🙂

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

There are some rail journeys that are calling my name ~ the Canadian Rockies, the Coast of California, etc. But getting to the terminus of either would probably involve flying. 😛

10. Val Boyko - August 8, 2019

I hear you Nancy and agree that we should all reduce our carbon footprint. Its so much easier to get around Europe without flying. The US is so big and doesn’t have the infastructure. Unless there’s dollars to be made, it won’t fly. 😉

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

As noted in the article, the problem isn’t flying . . . it’s carbon emissions. So the airlines just need to start using sustainable fuel and we’ll be all set!

IATA hopes to [reduce emissions by 50%] through the development of sustainable fuels, and new technologies like electric planes, rather than by reducing the number of flights. “The enemy isn’t travel,” says Goater. “The enemy is carbon.”

Val Boyko - August 8, 2019

Thank you for this❣️

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

Here’s to friendlier & greener skies!

11. Behind the Story - August 8, 2019

I’ve been feeling bad about this. But it’s also hard for me. Two of my daughters and their families live on the other side of the country. The trips we take are combinations travel and family gatherings. I’ve already cut back on simple trips to visit them.

Years ago when we weren’t thinking about our carbon footprint, we allowed our children to study wherever they wanted, no matter how far away, never realizing they’d end up meeting and marrying someone from another part of the country. People chose jobs with no thought of the distance. They could always hop a plane. It was an extravagant way of thinking, and we need to change.

nrhatch - August 8, 2019

Good luck finding the right balance for you, Nicki.

And when you fly . . . stick around and enjoy the destination and your family for a week or so, as I know you do.

12. gaetgu - August 9, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2009 found that commercial aviation is accounts for approximately 5% of U.S. gross domestic product and also contributes to $1.3 trillion in annual economic activity as well as helps generate and support 10 million jobs annually. The aircraft industry contributes to the economy through many different avenues, including manufacturing and the airline industry. (Wikipedia) We use airplanes for EVERYTHING!!! In a Search And Rescue (SAR) missions, CAP (Civil Air Patrol) planes help find people in the middle of nowhere (105 in fiscal 2019)! The next one may not be the most popular topic, but they saved HUNDREDS of soldier’s lives in Afghanistan and Iraq! If we ban planes, people in Alaska will die! (I am not saying that this will actually happen, there will probably be a revolution of the GA community against the American Government in about two days). Shipping times will double. In CAP we occasionally do blood transports, taking bags of blood and plasma to disaster sites, such as Hurricane Harvey. And did you think about gliders? They have to have a tow plane to take them up any considerable distance. A winch takes them up about 1000 feet, an auto-launch about the same, maybe 500 feet more. But with tow planes, you can go up as much as you are willing to pay the pilot, which makes for a MUCH more amazing experience. (I know, i’ve tried) Back to the military. We have C-130Js, which can carry 21 tons of cargo and land on very short undeveloped strips or parachute it from the back of the plane. Also, are you REALLY willing to give up the air force in exchange for the *laugh* SPACE FORCE??? *laugh laugh*. Anyway I think banning airplanes is a S T U P I D idea!

nrhatch - August 9, 2019

Banning airplanes is a stupid idea . . . but no one here has suggested banning airplanes.

What some of us are advocating is cutting back on carbon emissions by flying less, especially for frivolous reasons. And, I’d like to see the commercial airline industry and the military, etc., using sustainable fuel. As stated in the article:

IATA hopes to [reduce emissions by 50%] through the development of sustainable fuels, and new technologies like electric planes, rather than by reducing the number of flights. “The enemy isn’t travel,” says Goater. “The enemy is carbon.”

Spectre99 - August 9, 2019

I agree. I am sorry if I misunderstood. I am just a pilot-in-training and I know that airplanes are one of the most fuel-efficient forms of travel. If you really want to stop a form of transport, it should be the train. Not necessarily ALL of them, just the fuel-guzzling ones. the electric ones used for passengers and the more fuel-efficient ones are totally fine. In answer to the “Stop flying around from point A to B to C,” It really helps keep the air from getting too congested, though I do see your point. Thank you very much!

nrhatch - August 9, 2019

My pleasure. Thanks for commenting back. And good luck completing your training!

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