AGW Alarmists should not fly first class

If one takes the position that AGW is real and that “we”–mankind–should do “something” about it, one has accepted a premise of responsibility to a greater good. Having accepted that premise constrains one to either acting according to the premise of responsibility or else acting hypocritically.

I hold that no AGW alarmist who is also of the opinion that there is some sort of larger responsibility to change our individual and collective behaviour can be consistent to their construct without substantial–indeed, near-draconian–changes in their personal lifestyle.

As the perp for the thread comparing Mr Gore’s Nobel for AGW alarmism to conferring a Nobel for Domestic Safety upon a wife-beater who establishes domestic abuse shelters, I admit to coming to this debate with a bias.

However I am curious about what defenses AGW alarmists might mount for a specific proof case of hypocrisy: flying first class if it is your sincere belief that AGW is a serious problem and we should do something about it. As always with any (dare I say it?) Religion or Great Cause, the devil is in the details of behaviour in determining what we truly Believe.

I’m not interested in covering Mr Gore’s behaviour in particular–I’ve mocked that elsewhere. I’m interested in a defense of this particular case example, since as a frequent flyer I see no benefit to first class other than a fairly trivial addition to my personal comfort and convenience, and since it comes at a cost of contributing to global warming.

I’m confused. How does a first class passenger have a larger carbon footprint than the mooks back in steerage? The extra energy to heat the hot towels?

Unless you’re willing to argue that the airlines are going to trash the first class section and put more dense seating up front, you could equally well argue that first class passengers are doing a public service by filling (expensive) seats that would otherwise be vacant and wasted. So they’re actually taking one for the team.

First of all, I think I’ve figured out that the “GW” part of “AGW” is global warming, but it would be helpful if at some point you made it crystal clear what your acronyms stand for.

Second - for extreme long distances, and overseas travel would qualify, flight is arguably more efficient that some other modes of transport, particularly if the aircraft is filled to capacity. So it’s not just a matter of “flight=bad” but that you have to look at the particulars of any one flight to determine if it is the least damaging mode of transport for the purpose.

No one should listen to silly moralizers.

Nobody is arguing that flight is bad. Issue is first class flight. Because of the extra large seats and extra leg room, first class flight means that the aircraft can not be filled to capacity. So it seems that you agree.

Of course Gore’s standard defence is that he offets his huge fossil fuel usage by investing in other schemes. IOW despite declaring that this is a moral problem, he believes he can buy his way out of any dilemma. As for those who aren’t well connected multi-millionaires, they just have to suffer fro their sins. Your analogy to a wife beater setting u a shelter seems very apt. Despite the fact that anyone beating anyone is immoral, he believes that if he helps out 10 other beaten wife, that offsets the immorality of his personal actions.

A= Anthropogenic

Is air travel even a significant contributor to CO2?

And besides; there presently isn’t any good alternative to petrochemical burning engines for long range flight. As opposed to power plants and cars, which do have such alternatives. So it’s not really a good example; point out a person outspoken on AGW who drives a gas guzzler and you’d have a better point. Although the only point you’d have is that some people are self indulgent hypocrites, which isn’t exactly news. And it doesn’t work at all as an argument against the existence of AGW, which I suspect is the actual motivation of the OP. Rather like the people who bash Darwin and Dawkins in an attempt to discredit evolution.

Right, and if first class flight were gotten rid of, airline travel would probably be more energy efficient. But the question comes up then as to what degree an individual can accomplish meaningful change through his personal actions. If I, Al Gore, choose to fly coach instead of first class, the first class seats will still be on the airplane, and still be preventing the plane to be filled from capacity. In fact, since it’s more likely for the coach seats to be filled on a plane than the first class seats, my sitting in coach rather than first class means that it’s possible that someone who can’t afford a first class seat won’t be able to take the flight, while first class seats remain empty.

The difference between your analogy and reality is that while you can’t unbeat a wife, you can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Der Trihs, for your benefit will repeat: Nobody is arguing that flight is bad. Issue is first class flight. Because of the extra large seats and extra leg room, first class flight means that the aircraft can not be filled to capacity. So it seems that you agree.

Al Gore is a hypocrite. Hence, his adherence to the global warming proposition is suspect. We may therefore be assured that global warming is not really an issue, since its most famous public proponent has moral failings. Got it. Thanks.

Not until you can show that it makes a significant difference.

Ahh right. And since the TV has already been stolen I may as well buy it from that crackhead, because me not buying it won’t return it to the owner.

Morality doesn’t work that way, does it?

When you declare something to be a moral issue, as Mr. Gore so loudly does, you can’t make these sorts of rationalistions, because morality isn’t rational. Either financially supporting needless contribiutions to CO2 levels is immoral, as Gore clams, or it is not. Trying to rationalise that the TV set has already been stolen or that somebody else would buy the ticket is just that: rationalisation.

Are you saying that you don’t believe that we could fit more passengers on a plane without first class?

That I am aware of, there is no suggestion on the table to change anything to do with the aeronautic industry in regards to global warming. Nor is there any suggestion on the table, in fact, for individuals to change their day-to-day life at all. Anything else would be stupid. Moving the economy towards nuclear energy, upgrading the power grid to be more efficient, etc. these things have nothing to do with the individual and how he goes about his day. Intimating anything else isn’t even dishonest, it’s just plain off stupid. Why the heck would anyone think that a guy saying that we’d do better with nuclear energy is a hypocrite if he doesn’t plant trees on the weekend? What do these things have to do with one another?

Maybe you should clear up what you are actually advocating?

To fit more people into first class, you either need to convert the existing plane or get a plane that has no first class seats to begin with. Either of those processes certainly would use energy to be accomplished, so it seems you would need to show that the energy usage of replacing the first class section would still be a net gain compared to leaving them as first class. Building a whole new plane certainly doesn’t seem reasonable or a net savings.

How much energy contributing to AGW would be saved by converting first class seating to economy, if any, and over what time period?

I certainly agree that new planes already slated to be produced would be more efficient without a first class section, but converting existing planes may not actually be worth it. It also is possible that net efficiency would be better with some amount of first class seating because that prevents rich people from buying their own planes, or that no first class seats anywhere would make it harder to fill the planes completely. Extremely unlikely, but consumer behavior can be odd.

Finally, as others have already pointed out, even if there is an advantage to eliminating first class, it’s not going to be anywhere near the top of any list regarding cost versus reward in reducing AGW.

I’m saying that if it won’t make a significant difference then it doesn’t matter. And therefore even if it’s “wrong”, it’s only an insignificant wrong. Really; if the CO2 omissions of aircraft are such a problem, then the moral position to take would be opposing any kind of unnecessary flight at all; not making a tiny, basically symbolic change that will make no real difference.

In other words; the complaint seems to be that Gore isn’t making enough of a spectacle of himself with hollow symbolic gestures of pseudo-self deprivation. That instead he should avoid first class just for the symbolism of doing so; no doubt making speeches about how noble and self sacrificing he is being, while still using CO2 spewing aircraft. Would that make the OP happier?

Doctors shouldn’t smoke, either.


Are you seriously saying that you are completely unaware of Gore’s suggestions on how individuals should change their day-to-day life?

How about a guy saying that individuals should calculate the CO2 impact of their air travel and reduce it by taking individual action, including such trivialities as changing their personal diet, then going on to always fly first class and live in house that uses 20 times more energy than the national average.

Would that be hypocritical?

Gore himself obviously thinks the CO2 emissions of aricraft is significant air travel, else why would he include air travel in his calculator?

And I agree, Gore should be avoiding all unnecessary flight.

And what is your standard of “significant”? Gore obviously thinks that air travel is significant. Isn’t that alone sufficient evidence of hypocricy?

If I can demonstrate that Gore’s recreational and first class air travel produce more CO2 than the choice of light bulb of an average American (which Gore does think is significant and not a hollow gesture) will you admit that he is a hypocrite?