While writing this post I had originally thought of the title “Digital nomads vs the Environment”. But as a friend pointed out, why not instead go for “Digital nomads for the environment”? Good point. Here is my first post in my investigation for an environmentally friendly digital nomad lifestyle.
Let me be clear from the get-go. Even though I have great admiration for the digital nomad lifestyle, and I have huge respect for the people that have the courage and skills to live this way (I’m developing my skillset to become one myself), the fact is that your contribution to world pollution might increase quite drastically if you go nomad. Suddenly having the freedom to earn money wherever you are must be quite a rush, and understandably enough, digital nomads often use this freedom to travel everywhere and fly quite frequently.
This is a huge problem since we’re already facing the massive threat of global warming. Storms all over the world are getting more frequent and more extreme. Water levels are rising. Refugees no longer just run from violence, poverty and war, now they also run from life threatening climate. And by taking plane trips very often (or at all really), you are adding to the problem. You are making things worse. I know it sucks. But let’s be honest about it. When you buy plane tickets, you economically support an industry that’s increasing the speed of global warming.
It really doesn’t matter much if you use your coffee cups twice and pick up your garbage, if you’re flying across continents every other month. One round trip air ticket from London to Thailand is the equivalent of driving a car for 1,5 years! And many digital nomads take flights like these many times every year.
So should we stop flying altogether? Environmentally speaking – yes. No doubt about it. Especially if it’s just for our own vain pleasure. We can’t say for sure what the future is going to look like. But most climate scientists agree that it’s bad. Really bad. Our very foundation for life here on earth is under threat. If you want to learn more about the subject I highly recommend Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. It will scare the living shit out of you.
So what are the alternatives?
Simply put- fly less. Way less. Take the train instead. Share a car. Stay in places longer. Travel slower. Is it realistic though? It depends on how you see it. Picture a woman who has been smoking heavily for decades. She get’s told by the doctor that’s she’s going to die if she doesn’t stop smoking. Do you think she’ll be able to do it? You bet she will! When people start realizing how damaging and dangerous it is for our environment to fly, I think people will view flying less like a very doable option.
A point I often hear when discussing this with other people is that the plane will leave anyway. Really? Do you think if enough people stop buying plane tickets the plane will leave anyway? No way. Money talks. If the airlines are getting less money, there will be less air travel. You don’t have to wait for any politicians. You can make a difference now. By flying less.