Cheap travel

PUBLISHED: 12:45 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

SIR, - I am writing in response to the debate concerning Luton and other airports' attempts to expand. I would like to address two key aspects of the problem which some previous correspondents have neglected - namely the demand for aircraft travel and the

SIR, - I am writing in response to the debate concerning Luton and other airports' attempts to expand. I would like to address two key aspects of the problem which some previous correspondents have neglected - namely the demand for aircraft travel and the environmental consequences of meeting this demand. My starting point is climate change. The Government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, is on record as saying that climate change is more serious than terrorism and that in the European heat wave of 2003, which caused 30,000 deaths, 50 per cent of them were unnecessary and directly attributable to climate change. The World Health Organisation believes 160,000 people already die a year because of climate change. This is about as serious as serious gets, and the situation is projected to get worse. Climate change is caused, inter alia, by carbon dioxide and Defra figures show that between 1990 and 2003, carbon dioxide emissions from travel-related activities increased by 50 per cent, and that a growing proportion of this was from aircraft. So climate change kills people, and the principal cause of climate change (CO2) is increasing. Expanding airports and tackling climate change is the equivalent of putting Osama Bin Laden on the Civil List and claiming to be serious in the fight against terrorism. In a rational world it just wouldn't happen. So why is it happening? Simple. People want to fly for cheap and a populist Government doesn't want to thwart the will of the people. For the first time people don't think twice about two or even more holidays a year, winter and city breaks, Disney World in America and the obligatory summer holiday on one of Europe's beaches. And the more affluent of us can visit our second homes. And do these people consider for one moment the impact their lifestyles are having on the world's climate and its people? I suggest that the vast majority don't, or they conveniently turn a blind eye. Hannah Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil". I would not ascribe Arendt's phrase to the people who fly thrice yearly with easyJet and Ryanair, but not thinking - caring less - about the consequences of their lifestyles is certainly wicked and for the most part cheap flights cater for the banal. Obviously airport expansion is only part of a wider problem and I am not saying people should not fly at all. However if climate change kills people - then clearly there should be fewer flights not more. To fly, not to fly or indeed how to fly is a moral question. The fight against Luton's expansion must address the demand for cheap air travel and the people who create this demand need to recognise the inherent wickedness of regularly booking cheap flights and what this says about themselves. SIMON LEADBEATER, Crabtree Lane, Harpenden.

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