Is It Immoral to Travel?

That is the deep question asked by the New York Times:

The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.

Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.

To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times.

Because travel emits CO2! Of course, the Times makes a lot of money by advertising and promoting elite international travel, and even organizes its own (expensive) international junkets. Ann Althouse and her commenters have fun at the Times’s expense. Ann writes:

What’s morally bewildering? If you believe what the consensus of climate scientists and the proponents of the Green New Deal are telling us, you should never travel. Everything else is morally wrong. If you are bewildered, you’re just bewildered about whether you — as opposed to those other people — want to center your life on morality.

Newman confronts the reader with a number: your ride on a 2,500-mile flight releases enough carbon emissions to melt 32 square feet of Arctic summer sea ice cover. His own little family vacation, he figures, melted 90 square feet of Arctic ice.

When I did that calculation, I pictured myself standing on a pickup-truck-sized sheet of ice as it broke apart and plunged me into frigid waters. A polar bear glared hungrily at me.

This is idiotic. Any relevant measure of ice melting must be in cubic feet, and polar bear populations are booming. More:

Newman quotes a professor — a philosophy professor, relying on climatology reports — “The average American causes through his/her greenhouse gas emissions the serious suffering and/or deaths of two future people.” If you can, visualize those “future people” glaring at you. (You won’t see the NYT article that invites you to think about abortion with a visualization of “future people” with faces that reflect what you are inflicting upon them. The glaring polar bear face is about as intense as the visualizations get.)

The commenters enjoy calling out the hypocrisy of hand-wringing liberals who pretend to believe in the global warming “crisis,” but can’t bring themselves to do without jet travel. Let alone endorse nuclear energy, or advocate bombing the hundreds of coal-fired power plants now under construction in China and India, which would be mandatory if you actually believed that CO2-induced global warming threatens the Earth. The Times article includes discussion of carbon “offsets,” one of the dumber scams of modern times. Only a liberal could take “offsets” seriously. Which is the background of this comment:

The wife and I recently returned to the US from five years living in Spain. During our stay there, we visited 24 countries and over 125 cities/towns/villages and took two cruises. We had a blast and we’re going to do it all again in a few years. We travel with a clear conscience because we always offset our travel by privately funding abortions in sub-Saharan Africa. That type of offset does double duty because it allows us to prevent 500 or so people from exhaling forever and saves the landscape from deforestation caused by poor people looking for cooking fuel. Which reminds me, we usually plant a couple of trees, too, just in case one of the a intended abortees slipped under the radar. This summer we’re trying an entirely new offset scheme. We’re going polar bear hunting in Alaska in the hope our efforts will prevent the bears we harvest from starving and also leave more habitat for the bears that we might have missed. We also count as part of our offset the travel that Althouse didn’t take during the year, so we’ve got that going for us too. Which is nice.

You can never ridicule the New York Times enough.

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