‘Flight shaming and train bragging’

 

A chara, – Brian Boyd is right to draw attention to the impact of the cement and concrete industry on CO2 emissions, amounting to 8 per cent of global emissions; however, the figure does not fully capture the full environmental impact of the industry (“Enough of the flight shaming and train bragging”, Opinion & Analysis, August 23rd).

Construction sand, now depleted entirely in Vietnam, will be exhausted globally within 50 years; demand for raw materials will inevitably lead to conflict.

Concrete structures are precious, their value not being appreciated by our planning authorities, especially Dublin City Council, which has allowed the demolition of more than forty office buildings in recent years, to be replaced by – concrete office buildings. As development plans are the preserve of our elected representatives, responsibility, and the power to change, rests squarely with them.

Your columnist has seriously understated the climate impact of air travel: the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that aviation’s total climate impact is two-to-four times greater than its CO2 emissions, that is, amounting to 4 per cent to 8 per cent of global emissions, making it of the same order as the concrete industry.

Short-haul flights are proportionately more damaging than long-haul, producing 250 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometre, versus 110 for long-haul. Journeys less than 500km can be completed by train in much the same time, often less, than a plane: Eurostar London to Paris is substantially quicker, and emits a tenth the amount of carbon. Even Dublin to London by ferry and train is only slightly longer than a flight and, at €53, represents the great travel bargain in these islands. – Yours, etc,

PAUL ARNOLD, FRIAI

Conservation Architect,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – I read Brian Boyd’s whine on flight-shaming and train-bragging just now, from my smug and self-righteous seat on the Holyhead to London Euston train.

I’m thinking that my sail-and-rail journey will take longer than flying Dublin to Stansted but that I will save on the hours spent shuffling in interminable airport queues. I am also thinking that my journey has been easy and comfortable and that I bring with me my large suitcase jammed with bottles of liquid, full-size toiletries and unnecessary items which I have packed for the sheer joy of it. I thumb my nose at the tyranny of airlines.

What is there not to brag about? – Yours, etc,

DANIELLE BYRNE,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Brian Boyd harps on about the sanctimonious flight-avoiders on social media, as if this weakens the anti-aviation case.

Air travel “offers life-enhancing experiences”. Yes, with drastically diminishing returns. Even the second trip is less exciting. Soon the dose must be increased, to more distant destinations, in a spiral of futile consumerism. Flights are often a substitute for authentic life experience, personal growth and learning. Empty-headed types craving their next byte of entertainment are the frequent flyers. As globalisation makes everywhere just like everywhere else, we need “undiscovered” places – that Vietnam beach won’t do for Instagram anymore.

Your columnist concedes that restricting flying is a “reasonable and simple ask”, then facetiously suggests we refuse unless “climate-change professionals’” also stop. Will 99 per cent of them stopping do? Nope, the sneerers imply that utter moral perfection is needed before anyone need do anything. And the forests burn, the atmosphere heats, the oceans die.

So yes, shame the royal wasters, their fellow-travellers and apologists. – Yours, etc,

VICTOR HABERLIN,

Stratford,

London.