Through series of happenstance events that started with a tweet from my Dutch friend Elmine, I’ve been accepted as one of 81 participants from around the world to participate in round number two of the European Blogging Competition (insert joke about “typing really really fast” here).
The competition involves a three month commitment to blog about climate change on the Think About It website. And, somewhat ironically, it kicks off with all 81 participants flying into Copenhagen for a two-day launch event (insert wry ironic comment about flying across the ocean to blog about climate change).
The allure of getting to hang out with an international crew of 81 bloggers, combined with the usual allures of Copenhagen, my favourite city, were enough to get me over my misgivings about competition (blogging — competitively!?) and to try to rationalize the whole “causing climate change to blog about climate change” travel thing. In this regard the words of Edward Hasbrouck proved some comfort:
But I haven’t stopped flying. I continue to believe that long-haul travel, even by air, can in particular cases have a net positive effect on the world, mainly through the secondary effects of the permanent changes it can bring about in our worldview, which result in changes in how we go on with our lives.
It’s at least something to hang my hat on.
That said, it did seem absurd to fly to Copenhagen from Canada for two days, so I’ve arranged to extend my trip to 10 days, at my own expense, to at least spread the travel over a longer period of time.
My next travel grapple is related to SHiFT, the Lisbon conference being organized by my Portuguese friends in mid-October. I’ve been planning to go to SHiFT every year it’s been held, and it’s never worked out (last year we happened to hold Zap Your PRAM on the same weekend, which had the additional downside of keeping Zap a Portuguese-free event).
I was inspired to think more deeply about the implications of going to SHiFT by my friend Henriette, who’s launched the shift09 DIY transportation crusade around her own plans to skip flying and take a 41-hour train trip from Copenhagen to Lisbon.
In the end, there’s just no practical way of getting across the Atlantic ocean that doesn’t involve flying.
I looked into the possibility of taking the October 9th sailing of the Queen Mary 2. I’d have to get myself to New York City, and then from Southampton to Lisbon on the other end, it would cost me about $1,200 each way, and I’d have to be prepared to spend 12 days at sea in total. All that and it’s not clear that cruising is any less harmful, climate-change wise, than flying.
There’s the possibility of hitching a ride on a freighter cruise, which would be a little cheaper and perhaps someone more environmentally friendly given the lesser degree of opulence. But that seems to involve even more time at sea — up to two weeks in either direction — and I simply don’t have that amount of time to spend away from my family and away from work.
Then there’s the more obvious solution: combine the September trip to Copenhagen with the October trip to Lisbon, and join Henriette on her 41 hour journey of hope. I’ve considered it, believe me. But that would involve missing Oliver’s 9th birthday, skipping out on the Access 2009 conference that I’m both helping to organize and am scheduled to speak at, and, in the end, being away from home for more than a month.
Of course the most obvious solution is just not to go to SHiFT at all, and as much as the prospect saddens me, I’m considering that too.
If I do decide to go on a planet-destroying two-trips-to-Europe-in-a-month I will, if nothing else, have a lot to write about during my three month rumination about climate change.