I've stopped flying. There. It's said. You might want to avoid me at parties if you're planning to talk about, say, your next trip to Bali. Or maybe you have an academic conference on the other side of the world? Avoid me. Conversation-stopper or not, I will tell you that I believe the climate scientists; I'm terrified for my grandchildren's future and have stopped flying.
Actually, I'm joining the majority — 95 per cent of humans never fly. My father didn't fly until his 40s. One generation later, we think it's a natural human right. Five per cent of us are disproportionately harming the planet's ability to support the rest. Rather than stuffy airports, give me trains, ferries, random smiles and serendipitous conversations with total strangers. Slow travel, like slow food, is the new me.
But my decision not to fly is just symbolic. It's not going to fix the world. Only by working collectively will we build the power to conserve a liveable world for our grandchildren and it's urgent. It's up to us. This is the new meaning of conservation.
Last month the arctic polar vortex swept Chicago while across the world a year's rainfall drenched Townsville in a week, and bushfires scorched 1000-year-old trees in Tasmania. Did you see the pictures of dead fish belly-up in the Darling River? It's the creatures that get me the most.
Back home, how will millions of black and white cows manage without shade during our hottest summer on record? Today I'm thinking of friends in Nelson as fire rages out of control near their home. Surely we're all waking up to the urgent reality of climate change?
No. The oil and gas industry and their lobby group PEPANZ (Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand) are still clinging to an industry that's killing us. They're trying to get the Government to reverse its ban on new oil and gas permits, using New Zealand workers to front TV ads. Never mind that the Government will make sure these workers have jobs in the fair transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy.
There are way more jobs in clean energy. Todd, OMV and PEPANZ should be working with the Government away from more oil and gas. It's their only moral choice in 2019.
But instead Todd, OMV and the others push a fairytale; that we can continue our Kiwi lifestyles as some of the biggest polluters on the planet and that somehow, magically, it will all be okay for the next generation. Their lust for profit is destroying our kids' chance of a liveable Earth.
Sound extreme? Read the science. Read last year's IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report that says we have 12 years to halve our global emissions from burning coal, oil, gas, from the way we farm our animals and from, well, pretty much everything we do.
We have to change everything. That's why I've stopped flying.
PS: Aviation contributes to around 2.5 per cent of worldwide emissions. Planes dump their climate-changing greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere, having more of a warming effect than at ground level. Flying less is one of the biggest things we can do as individuals to help conserve the climate.
Rosemary Penwarden is a Whanganui-born-and-raised grandmother now living near Dunedin.