Cheap flight madness!In a century from now people will reflect and realise that the cheap flights we now enjoy were economic madness. The newspapers have been raving recently about the favourable exchange rate and the delights of Christmas shopping in New York thereby ignoring the warnings about global warming and air travel. It’s still the fastest growing mode of transport, with the Government predicting the annual number of passengers using British airports will double to 400 million in 14 years. We know this is unsustainable, but we can’t resist cashing in on cheap flights. Perhaps we should look to Tony Blair for guidance. He atoned for the sin of flying to Florida for his winter break by paying £89.82 into a carbon offset scheme. He is in good company. Paying an offset firm to fund the cutting of carbon dioxide elsewhere – by planting trees, for example – has become an increasingly popular way for jet-setters to relieve their environmental guilt. Huge numbers of Britons have offset one or more flights last year despite recent research suggesting that planting trees in northern climes may trap heat and thereby increase global warming.

However, the idea that we can plant our way out of climate change is stupid. Consider the huge number of trees required to offset the UK’s carbon emissions, any beneficial impact on the climate would take decades to materialise. Other offsetting schemes, such as buying energy-efficient light bulbs and stoves for the developing world, may be better. But when considering this logically you realise that there is an underlying problem with the concept itself – rather than seeking ingenious ways to offset pollution, we should be trying to produce less of it in the first place!

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It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.

Quayle, Dan

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