What has carbon gas emissions got to do with making friends? Nothing if you ask me. But for Gunnar Garfors they are certainly related. In a far reaching attempt to justify his excessive flying, he has come up with this idea/claim that when you fly to travel and meet people, you get to make friends with them, that means no wars or at least less wars, thus less carbon emission from warfare.
He has an excellent point, but mixed with ridiculous assertions, so I need to dissect t/his thesis.
In his piece “How travel can contribute to the green change” Garfors writes:
“If we travel differently and use our trips to exchange knowledge and establish friendships with people who live where we go, then travel can be a part of the green change as opposed to a part of the problem. Increased mutual understanding, more friendships and more trade across borders and cultures can and will reduce risk for conflict and war. Which in turn will result in reduced military budgets, fewer military operations across the world and therefore a big decrease in both fear and the perceived need to maintain big forces with their significant emissions.”
I was just so bewildered to read such a ridiculous claim! “Increased mutual understanding, more friendships and more trade across borders and cultures can and will reduce risk for conflict and war.” ???? This guy really thinks travel, especially his way of travel, going to a place for a day or two will increase mutual understanding and friendship so as to reduce conflict and war??? He really must be very very naive. Conflict and war are not caused because of un-understanding; even when they are, you cannot form friendships just like that. It takes a lot of effort and time to really connect and have a bond between people.
This is only sharing a moment, making a contact. Sure, even that is something. Sure, it is nice to have that feeling that you have touched the life of someone. Even for a fleeting moment... But that's where the magic is. The fleeting moment. Just wait until you live in close contact for some time with all those people you claim to have formed "friendships" when travelling! We see how long it takes you to get into a conflict of interest and fall apart. The fleeting moment gives you an illusion, an illusion of "friendship".
Relationships are not easy. Even among family, even best friends. People who are so in love with each other fall out so quickly. In a world where even mothers have difficulty in loving their children, this kind of “friendship” discourse is being a starry-eyed romantic to say the least. So much zero understanding.... after all these travels! I am amazed.
War is caused by politicians, by big, global corporations out for hunting and suppressing other people to make a profit for themselves!
Actually I know... It's not that he doesn't know, it's only that he is trying too hard to defend himself. He is not aware how childish he comes off.
“Which in turn will result in reduced military budgets...”
????? Even bigger question marks are necessary here.
This guy is trying so hard to clean himself and his conscience; there must be too many people attacking him for his carbon print. I understand why he doesn't allow comments on his website. I understand his need to defend himself, but come on...
Yet, I must give him credit. Because then, he makes a very very good point!
“But first; How much do wars and military activity pollute? I ask the question since the world’s defense and military organizations have achieved an exception from emission statistics. And that is by no means because they do not pollute. They have however managed to convince the world that their emissions are military secrets, and that they therefore must be kept secret, and not given any attention.”
This is the big problem. The bigger problems are hidden from our eyesight and hearing. We pretend to not know. We do the three monkeys. We did not see, we did not hear, we do not speak. These things do not happen (!)
“A reduction of 14 percent in defense activities will reduce the world’s carbon footprint with as much as the entire global aviation industry currently emits. But let me be realistic. There is currently big resistance to any reduction in military operations. NATO, with its de facto leader USA, would rather see that NATO members increase spending and buy more arms, something which will undoubtedly result in “enemies” following suit, and we have another vicious circle. Increased military spending comes with an exceptionally high cost to the climate, which will eliminate any emission decreases the world population manages to achieve through eating less meat, building in wood instead of in cement and steel and knitting our own clothes from wool instead of buying polyester. To maintain current military spending is in other words probably the most positive climate measure we can dream about in the short term.”
I am so happy that he is putting this in the front. This is a very important point. War is the thing people should be pounding on when talking about climate change, not our individual impacts. Talk about the big players. And believe me, for all his flights, Gunnar is not a big player in the field of carbon emissions.
“To maintain current military spending is in other words probably the most positive climate measure we can dream about in the short term.”
Well... we should NOT be maintaining, we should be striving towards eliminating this spending.
“While more travel between cultures can potentially reduce the need for armed forces.”
This is, once again, too much forced. “More travel between cultures” is not going to reduce the need for armed forces. Less greed, more pressure on politicians will. “Cultures” do not really have anything personal against each other. People are people. Greeks and Turks are neighbors and friends. Just like Indians and Pakistanis. Sure, there is enmity due to past history and conflict of interest, but it's the politicians who fuel the fears and hatreds. Without that, things would stay at the personal level and could not escalate. Politicians need to fuel fears and hatreds because that's how they stay in power. Otherwise, who needs them? Otherwise, how can states manipulate the public and rob their money? The money robbed from the public gets into the pockets of the politicians and keeps them in power. That's what the real fight is about. That and the grabbing resources by global corporations.
“Peace and stability are way too important subjects to leave for politicians and business people alone.”
Yes! So True. However, that's the status-quo of our world. Come and break the inertia. If you can!
“We need more “normal” people to contribute too, in the shape of open-minded tourists that seek unusual destinations.”
Again... Exaggerating what travel can do. Merits of travel. Just because he travels, he feels the need to.
On the other hand, there is certainly truth to that. We need more “normal” people, we need more open-minded people. They don't necessarily need to travel but travel to unusual destinations is generally a sign of curiosity and willingness to make one's self vulnerable, not fearing the different. Of course, I'm not talking about this every country chasers.
In his article “No, Flying Doesn’t Have the Worst Carbon Footprint” Gunnar writes: “Given my extensive travelling it may not surprise you that I am often accused of having the world’s biggest climate footprint.”
Yeps, just as I had thought. He is constantly being accused.
Understandable. That people accuse. Understandable. That he tries to defend himself. Looking for ways to defend himself.
“I got so much abuse over my flying that I eventually looked into figures.”
Ehh... I bet he did.
Then he lists all the other culprits, pointing fingers at cars and building houses with bricks and steel... Then comes the laughing out loud part!
“And let me not even get into the yearly climate footprint of having a kid, per parent (alright then, it translates into over 500 average flights).”
Seriously??? Are we going to stop having kids because of yearly climate print?? And how did he get this figure of 500 average flights??
“It might in other words make more sense to ditch the dog or to crash the car if your goal is to reduce emissions substantially, compared to avoiding a few flights here and there.”
Ahh, good thing he doesn't mention/conclude it might be more sensible to not have kids! Even though the way he reasons hints that.
In his other article “Comments From a Climate Culprit”, Garfors writes:
“But let me also touch upon something way more sexy: Reproduction. To raise a child in the western world causes an enormous carbon footprint, according to a 2017 study published in Environmental Research Letters. Having one child less will save each of the two parents as much as 58.6 tons of CO2 per year for the rest of their lives. That equals between 163 and 532 flights per year (depending on which of the four figures I use). And no, I am not suggesting that people should stop having children, far less that parents have their offspring murdered. It is just worthwhile being aware that having a kid contributes substantially to CO2 emissions, and that that knowledge may mean that more prospective parents want to persue another option. There are unfortunately a lot of unwanted children in the world, one possibility is to consider adoption and/or to become foster parents.”
I agree with his suggestion of considering adoption and/or fostering. This IVF treatments and the extraordinary amount of money spent on this industry is another symptom of our egocentric lives, wanting someone from “our blood”, this need of propagating one's genes... I wish people were more considerate of other beings living on the same planet as them. I wish money was not fuelled into such places but elsewhere.
“I am often confronted by journalists with my carbon footprint 'which must be huge as much as I fly.' With a job in public service broadcaster Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) I have a rather normal paycheck. Almost everything that I make is used for jetfuel, which leaves little money to spend on other ways of polluting the planet.”
Stop it Gunnar. Don't defend yourself. There is nothing to defend. Even if you had other ways of polluting the planet, your impact is seriously inconsiderable. Its our overall effect we should be considering. It's our lifestyles we should be questioning, not only yours. It's not you only, it's all of us who are responsible.
Making friends should be exercised on the upper levels. If politicians can manage to behave themselves, rein in their egos, then we might have a chance. We need to change this definition of Us and Them into Us + Them We are all in the same boat after all. If the boat sinks, we all sink.
Yeah, some later than others, but at the bottom of the sea we will all find ourselves. Not like Aylan, but washed ashore like these kids even.