(12i) Flying - a necessary evil when one wants to meet other cultures

We all know climate is changing (although many don't want to acknowledge) and thus recently there was a discussion on the Flemish radio (as in other media) about the environmental cost of tourism. Indeed, planes burn fuel and thus pollute (quite heavily). Still, I think tourism should continue as it brings people together and provides jobs while I think it is less polluting than other industries.

Low flying plane.
That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done differently. Short distances can be done by trains or buses that are less polluting while long distances can be made by plane. Indeed, planes (similarly as buses and trains) transport many people at ones and thus may be less polluting per persona than we assume (unless it is a private plane that only transports a few people). I think that is on condition airlines stop flying short-distances because start and finish are always the most polluting moments while the in-between are much cleaner and thus the further apart the cities the better. And why airlines want to fly short distances in competition with trains that are more convenient as they travel from city centre to city centre and are often cheaper I don't know. Flying short distances, I think reduces airlines their profits. Also, when airlines are smaller companies but specialists in certain destinations, planes may be fuller, resulting in higher profits per plane.

Apart from buses, trains and planes, another possibility are boats, although they can be too slow to reach our destination in time before we have to return to work, unless people want to make a boat trip. And as I recently experienced, making a cruise on a river can be very relaxing.

Everyone on the boat is enjoying the landscape.
Tourism is something most people do only ones, twice or maybe three times a year and thus their carbon footprint is quite modest while when they travel they meet people from other cultures and thus may become less judgemental towards people who dress and eat differently, resulting in a nicer world (on condition they are open to the other cultures and don't only criticises them).
Discovering the world from the window of a plane.
And of course, in general there is also much beauty closer to home so that people don't always need to travel to foreign destinies to see something exciting. How many people know their own town or region, let alone the neighbouring cities and nature? Far away can be fun to completely forget work and every day life, but close-by can also be beautiful, certainly during shorter breaks.

I am less in favour of too many business trips. Some people travel very often for work, even when meetings can be held over the internet (although than governments or other companies may listen to what people are telling and thus this should be very severely regulated). And if the numbers of business people travelling go down, the numbers of flights will also decline significantly and as a consequence air pollution. And as some people travel a lot for work, frustration because they always have to fly will decrease because people can be more at home with their family.

This doesn't mean people can't travel for business any more, as here too human contacts can be very important. When people travel to a congress, it is not only to hear what people say (indeed, one day they will be able to read the results in articles or communicate them via email), but mostly to meet people for networking. But as congresses are only a few times a year or often even less, people will travel less for work and pollution will go down. When employees fly less, that also probably means more profits for companies. And when one can only travel ones in a while, people will more appreciate their trip.

Meetings between divisions of companies or between different companies don't always have to happen in person as video conferencing can be quite efficient. Indeed, it is now even possible that people from all over the world join the meeting and follow the same presentation that is presented at one place. It also saves time and thus money because people don't have to travel. Nevertheless, if companies are nearby, people can still travel to each other for meetings, using less polluting trains while sometimes people far away meet in person to increase social bounding. And thus for those only interested in making profits, travelling more efficiently will save money.

Public transport can be used for short distances while for very short distances people can walk or cycle. In doing so, I think pollution will go down much more than stopping tourists from flying. It will also result in less traffic and thus safer cities with cleaner air and thus less unhealthy cities while there can be more social contacts (of course, people in public transport can still determine whether they want to sit next to someone or prefer to maintain a distance and stand).

In conclusion, tourism should remain important and people should continue travelling but in a sensible way by bicycle, train or bus when travailing over shorter distances, by plane if they travel over longer distances while energy-friendly cars can be used if families travel together. But business people may travel less by planes and even trains because it is less efficient, exhausting and costly. By not travelling to the other side of the world for a shorter or longer meeting, people can spend more time with their families and friends while they will feel less tired. This doesn't mean they can't travel at all for work because also employees and employers sometimes need to meet each other for personal contact. Maybe trains can bring people to a place somewhere in between so both can travel and enjoy the trip? And when people travel less, they don't mind meeting someone somewhere as it is a break from normal work while people who travel too much for work stop having relaxed contacts with others as they become frustrated they have to travel again, resulting in meetings that are as short as possible without visiting the region together and thus in the end, personal contacts are reduced to short impersonal business meetings that could have been replaced with long distance video conferences while being allowed to travel ones in a blue moon will make people grateful they can travel and thus improve their performances.


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