“Published” in the New York Times

June 4, 2019 by Joshua
in Awareness, Nature

Sorry for the click-bait title. I commented on an article in the Times and it got included in Readers Picks. Hence the quotes in my title.

The article was “If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?“, subtitled: “In the age of global warming, traveling — by plane, boat or car — is a fraught choice. And yet the world beckons.”

You can read the article. From my view, it’s an alcoholic struggling to justify stopping drinking, trying to square all the reasons he agrees with but he just wants another drink.

With one big difference: the alcoholic drinking only hurts himself. Flying heats and pollutes the planet we all share.

Some of the other responses looked beyond the personal thrill of flying to the consequences to everyone else, but most stayed in the mindset from before we knew we were heating the planet and devalued those consequences.


My response:

I don’t understand how people separate their actions from front-page environmental news. How they can see pictures of, say, New Delhi air and not connect that they are polluting thousands of times more than the average person there. I’m surprised at how easily they can dismiss consequences they don’t see.

I wrote to a friend who planned to avoid flying for a year, but is considering abandoning the goal to go to India: North America is a stunningly beautiful, diverse land with equally beautiful and diverse people. No one could possibly sample it all in a lifetime. For whatever India offers, there’s just as much unknown a train ride away. Before I sail to Europe, it looks like I’ll sail to Mexico, Puerto Rico, or places near Florida, and probably at almost no cost, using Findacrew.net, where I’ve met friendly people offering spaces on their boats, though I haven’t taken them up yet.

If I always think of what I’m missing, I’ll never be satisfied. If I enjoy what I have, I’ll always feel joy. I just wrote that, but the words feel consistent with those of Buddha. I would rather live by his words than to see specifically where he lived if it meant violating the words. He lived on Earth. I can see where he lived everywhere I go.

I’m in my fourth year since choosing not to fly. I wish I had changed earlier, but I feared the challenges to work and family. Some observations from year 1: https://www.inc.com/joshua-spodek/365-days-without-flying.html

Last I checked, the comment had a few reader upvotes. Maybe it will become a NYT picks.

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