Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

  • smecca
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  • It is said that you are what you think about every day; if that's the case, then I am a toilet!
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Re: Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

Kai, You have raised questions that I'm sure many of us have asked ourselves; I always question myself about conference travel. As Elisabeth mentions, it is always nice to reconnect with our colleagues in the profession face to face; yet so much of our professional travel purposes can be accomplished with e-meetings. I have been training GSAP Microflush toilet makers in several countries over the past year and a half. Most of that has been done via extended skype conversations with shared screens;it as followed by exchanges of photos at stages of the first few toilets the newly trained makers fabricate. Is it as effective as travel and face to face training and field work? No. Yet it does work and it avoids the energy and $ expense of air travel as well as time. We are economizing further by developing training videos and using these followed by shorter skype sessions. When we put our minds to the options for frequent air travel, we can find satisfactory ways to lessen our footprint on the globe.

Stephen Mecca, Ph.D.
Department Engineering-Physics-Systems
Providence College
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Department of Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Science
University of Ghana

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  • Hector
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Re: Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

Since the topic is relates to carbon emissions, should we also question where project funding comes from? BMGF funding has investments in fossil fuels:
Where does one draw the line?

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To Bill and Melinda Gates, founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Jeremy Farrar and Sir William Castell, director and chair of the Wellcome Trust:

Your organisations have made a huge contribution to human progress and equality by supporting scientific research and development projects. Yet your investments in fossil fuels are putting this progress at great risk, by undermining your long term ambitions.

Climate change poses a real threat to all of us, and it is morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal. Many philanthropic organisations are divesting their endowments from fossil fuels. We ask you to do the same: to commit now to divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and to immediately freeze any new investments in those companies.

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  • KaiMikkel
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Re: Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

Hector - You've pinpointed what, for me at least, is most at issue. The problem is that we're NOT talking about any of it (as evidenced by the scant replies here). In large part, we're not drawing any of the lines that you refer to. We're not addressing the contradictions. Instead, we're going along largely just doing the same things. And positive change is never an outcome of a system that doesn't address its core contradictions and problems. Case in point, its not international development types that are behind the actions aimed at the BMGF (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Its the Guardian newspaper (!).

To many of us feel like "What can I do?" when in reality its by each of us aligning our practices with our beliefs (and putting our money where our mouth is) that the possibility for change lies. Here's an alarming statistic: what we're doing isn't working and in fact its making things (far) worse. So, therefore, its time that we try something different.

The amazing thing is that we (particularly those us with disposable incomes and privilege; in other words, "consumers") are all change-makers - we just need to perceive and wield the power that our habits hold. For example, airplanes fly (and pollute) only because we keep buying their tickets. Water pollution persists only because we keep flushing toilets; because we keep buying toxic products; because we keep driving cars; because we keep buying foods sold to us by the agro-industrial complex, and so on. Industry is clearly the problem yet most of us are intrinsically culpable because we keep believing their advertising and buying into their hype.

So, indeed, where do we draw the line?

Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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  • Hector
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Re: Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

Well, I guess this is a good opportunity and venue for those funded by the BMGF to put their mouth where there money is and take a stance on the matter.
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  • Kobbyus
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Re: Air travel to conferences, site visits, etc.

At a recently held Nexus Conference in Dresden, Germany the issue of climate change was paramount. Population growth and urbanisation with their attendant impact on climate were some of the key themes for discussion at various sessions that had several papers delivered.
During a discussion on the sideline of the conference, a participant's comment was just similar to this question raised by Kai - that we continue to lament over climate variability forgetting that we (climate advocators)hop from one conference to the other aboard aeroplanes oblivious of our carbon footprints. Not long after, in a chat with another person, he indicated that the Dresden conference was his 3rd successive conference relative to climate change.
Is this an irony of the climate war being pursued? Kai's question is timely because I also began thinking about this after the conference. A food for thought!
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