Far-flung families and flying

Big discussion over in the DA group about flying; privilege. Inevitably a few people in these circles still feel that they must fly across oceans to go see their faraway family members. This is an example of a huge dilemma that our fossil-fueled society has enabled. In the olden days it would not have been an option. If you moved far away from family you knew you might never see them again. Only about 5% of the world’s population has ever set foot on a plane.

This is just a huge topic that often comes out in the world of voluntary Degrowth, Deep Adaptation and so on.

I responded to somebody who asked me if I had given up my car, and who said that frequent flying by the rich is the big problem.

Thanks for explaining what you meant. I don’t necessarily agree, I do think things need to change, but I get what you’re saying.

And of course I understand your wanting to see your brother. Probably if I were in your shoes I would constantly be asking him to please move near the rest of the family.

And I also do understand what it’s like to be that one family member who lives far from their family. I really love the place where I live, love my community here — even though I miss my family. As the person who chose to make their life in a different place, I have to make a lot of extra effort to maintain our relationships.

I do agree w you re. frequent flying. And fancy travel & other extreme consumerism by the very rich.

But in my country, the USA, the “middle class” is jetsetty and consumerist on a robber-baron level. Especially my fellow white Boomers. And since our numbers are very large (both middle-class and Boomers), every choice we make has an even greater impact collectively.

Since I am a citizen of the USA, I consider it my job to try to help reset the norms in my country, since my country is consuming 25% of the world’s resources with 5% of the world’s population.

i don’t have a car. I find automobile ownership an unacceptable burden for myself and for the planet. But I do understand that it can be very very difficult for people to get around without private cars in today’s perversely designed world.

I get around mainly by foot and bicycle. No it’s not always easy, but I enjoy it plus I feel like it’s important to try and set an example. (My occupation is sustainability educator, self-employed.) And I am an activist pushing for a better public transportation and more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets.

I do all the stuff you mentioned and I’m constantly finding ways to do more. It’s actually enjoyable and life-enriching. And since joining this group and similar groups, at least I know I have plenty of company.


Excerpts from a couple other comments on this DA post that resonated with me:

“Most people I know are poor and have never even driven a car. I’m surrounded by activists from marginalized communities, they also make up most people in the world actually. It’s almost like these people you mention should be called aliens or something. Most people don’t fly, I think 3 percent of the world population can afford to fly.”


“Yep, for those who fly, stopping is often the biggest thing they can do.

“Another big one is to earn less income.

“Because environmental damage can’t be decoupled from GDP, the more money a person earns the greater the damage. Even if it is spent on ‘good’ stuff like home insulation, we have no control over how that money is spent after it leaves our hands and gets spent multiple times again.

“For those struggling to pay for the basics, the biggest action they can do is learn about Degrowth and spread the message.”