What if all that flying is good for the planet?

Without tourism, it's easy to imagine the Serengeti turned into cattle ranches

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A growing movement known as "flight shame" and popularised by well-meaning climate activists is gaining momentum around the world. Its premise: Flying is bad for the climate, so if you care about life on earth, don't fly. The movement, which began in Scandinavia, has ballooned into protests to disrupt flights at London's Heathrow Airport and social media campaigns outing celebrities and others for planning long-haul trips.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many climate-conscious people may be wondering: Is my planned vacation for the other side of the world ethically indefensible? But let's try another question: If we really did all stop flying, would that save the planet? The counterintuitive answer is that it might actually do the opposite.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2019, with the headline What if all that flying is good for the planet?. Subscribe