August 14, 2013

MEGAN MCARDLE:

Why does air travel get left out of the mix when we’re talking about reducing our carbon footprint? . . .

The question answers itself, doesn’t it? Giving up air travel and overnight delivery is much more personally costly for the public intellectuals who write about this stuff than giving up a big SUV. If you live in one of the five or six major cities that contain virtually everyone who writes about climate change, having a small car (or no car), is a pretty easy adjustment to imagine. On the other hand, try to imagine giving up far-flung vacations, conferences, etc. — especially since travel to interesting locales is one of the hidden perks of not-very-well remunerated positions at universities, public policy groups, nongovernmental organizations, and yes, news organizations.

If we’re going to get serious about greenhouse gasses, we need to get serious about air travel. Going to a distant conference should attract the kind of scorn among the chattering classes that is currently reserved for buying a Hummer.

Fat chance. The inhabitants of Conferenceville are too important to make sacrifices.

UPDATE: A hedge-fund reader emails: “Who owns private-jet rental giant NetJets? America’s favorite crony capitalist, of course. You know, the guy who just cashed out of his Washington Post stake. Warren Buffett.”

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