The right to drive, the right to fly

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

no-fly1Many people seriously believe it to be their (human) right to drive a car or to fly and while they insist upon this “right” they, invariably, deny the very right to life to those now or soon affected by climate change though they may never have driven a car or flown in an airplane.

Neither driving nor flying are a (human) right and no one should believe that they are and that they are entitled to drive or fly. Considering that in the not so distant future cheap oil, or even oil per se, may be history and alternatives either are worse for the Planet by way of pollution or simply not available I certainly would not bank on this “right” to drive or fly.

It is more than high time that everyone woke up to this fact and rather than stamping their feet like little children in a tantrum demanding their (human) right to drive and fly thought about and found some real alternatives. They do exist. That is alternatives to driving and flying, that is.

First and foremost there are your feet and then there is the humble bicycle.

In most developed countries, bar maybe one or two that are geared almost exclusively towards the car, we have good public transport in the form of buses, trams, and trains, both underground and overground.

Unfortunately even in the UK many local bus services, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, have been axed in favor of the car. This has to be reversed and we also need to have many of the train routes back that Beeching destroyed. The latter, however, will only happen if and when the railroads in Britain are taken back into public ownership.

In most countries of Europe the railroads are still state-owned and -operated and thus are cheaper than those in the UK and, amazingly, cleaner and more reliable.

As far as bicycle infrastructure is concerned Britain is lagging far behind most countries of the European mainland such as the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland, all of which, more or less, have a countrywide bicycle route network and as far as the Netherlands and Denmark are concerned, cycling – the non-sports variety – is a passion and the way it functions in those two countries is all but amazing.

Driving and flying are not (human) rights; they are privileges and this is something that we must get into our heads. And no, no, don't stamp your feet, it makes no difference. It is and remains the truth and a fact.

Even if you can afford it to own and drive a car and to fly to this and that destination for vacation or shopping or business it still is but a privilege and not a right. Period!

Flying is the greatest contributor to pollution and emissions and driving a car is not far down the list. Flying is the worst simply because the pollution stays in the upper atmosphere where it has effects on climate and weather in ways that ground generated pollution does not.

You only have to look at the contrails of the airplanes at certain altitudes and under certain conditions and the way that they spread out over the sky – contrail cirrus clouds they are referred to by meteorologists – and cause a hazy cloud cover. Those are the soot particles and others that are covered by ice, basically, and where they are they basically remain, only afterwards invisible to the eye.

So, every time that you fly you are part of the problem and not part of the solution and your flying and driving – which you claim as a right, a human right, almost – restricts the right to life of others. Think about it.

© 2014