Depending on your politics, you either do or you don’t regard The New York Times as the nation’s leading newspaper.
But after that paper’s recent examination of the relation between travel and climate change, you must surely regard it as the nation’s boldest newspaper.
The Times’ startling discussion (which you can read here) results from the belief held by almost all prestigious scientists that the operation of airplanes all over the globe is an important cause of carbon (CO2) emissions and therefore of climate change.
So the editor of the Times’ travel section has asked: Can we continue to promote international travel by airplanes?
The Times’ somewhat hesitant response to that question: Yes, there is a relationship between international travel by air and climate change.
The scientists have found that when a passenger flies between New York and Los Angeles, the passenger’s share of the carbon emissions caused by that flight will cause the shrinkage of 32 square feet of the Arctic’s summer ice cap.
The Times’ response to this ethical conundrum?
Henceforth, according to the Times’ travel editor, whenever the Times assigns a travel reporter to fly to various locations, the Times will contribute a relative sum of money for purchase of the carbon offsets created by a growing number of non-profit organizations.
Apparently, several such companies have now emerged to create carbon offsets, normally consisting of the planting of trees.
According to some scientists, if a trillion new trees were planted in South America, the resulting filter would put an end to climate change.
The Times asked the readers of its travel section to comment on the Times’ solution to the airplane/emissions problem—and hundreds have thus far responded.
Many of them have written critically, accusing the Times of hypocrisy and suggesting that they change the name of the travel section to the “Don’t Travel Section.”
Their argument is that the purchase of carbon offsets by individuals will affect only a tiny and insignificant portion of the climate change problem.
Others have either applauded the Times’ action, or suggested other solutions to the problem: switching to domestic travel by train, hiking to nearby travel sites, riding bicycles to vacation locations, or reducing the number of instances per year in which Americans will travel internationally by airplane.
How would readers of this column respond?
Register your opinion regarding this pressing matter on our Facebook group for travel fans, Frommer’s Roamers Travel Chat, or via our Twitter account, @Frommers.