Air travel is really quite astounding. In the wee hours of the morning of Friday, I hopped on a plane bound for Vancouver and arrived at my destination before the start of the business day. Some people have jitters about flying but not I. Get on ((No hop ons, though)) and, after zipping through the air in a flying Pringles can, step into an new airport that is at once familiar and foreign.
Though I grew to find air travel itself blasé when I was younger, take-offs were still thrilling as they signified the start of an adventure. Lately, dread has overshadowed optimism. Beginning the moment the plane picks up speed, ready to take flight, I count the seconds the plane spends accelerating and accelerating until… *whoop*… there is naught but air twixt plane and ground. Many gallons of fossil fuels were burned. Used. There is no undo button. In seconds, we have devoured a large portion of that black crack which Nature herself has taken millions of years to concoct.
Within moments, even cities as big as New Yorks are rendered as miniatures. That is, when the cities are not shrouded in fog. Instead of admiring from above that which man has wrought, I think about how much damage we have just done to the environment. I say “we”, trying to avoid admitting responsibility but I know who is to blame.
By the time the fasten-seat-belts signs turn off several minutes into the flight, we have covered more ground than I can walk in a day — all without breaking a sweat. We have also used far more energy than I would have in the process. Given how much more quickly and easily machines can consume resources than an unaided person, is it any wonder that we would need several Earths to support our addiction to consumption? Meanwhile, I just stare down through the cloud cover. Below is just one Earth.
Four hours later, my Pringles can has landed. In that time, I have made as much of an impact on the environment as I would in a typical year due using land-based transportation. Did I mention that air travel is really quite astounding?