EDITORIAL – There’s nothing hypocritical about enviros using planes

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HERE’S SOMETHING that really bugs me about all the rhetoric around the future of the planet.

How often do we hear the climate-change deniers and pro-oil types say smugly, “Oh, sure, so-and-so flew in on a jet to give a speech about saving the environment? How much fuel did that plane burn? Talk about a hypocrite!”

On the other hand, environmentalists have a habit of saying, “We’ve got to put an end to oil production, right now, or we’re all gonna die!”

Let’s look at each of those statements. There’s nothing hypocritical about flying from A to B in an airplane. That happens to be how we travel long distances.

Does anyone seriously think the airline industry should just be grounded overnight?

If there were electric airliners, I’m sure David Suzuki would be happy about that and would be the first to use them as he goes around making speeches about the environment.

And then there are the sanctimonious enviros who insist the oil sands should be shut down right now, today. Get serious. If we could decree an immediate end to oil production, we wouldall soon be dead, because we’re dependent on it for the production and transportation of the things that keep us alive.

So the concept of a planned, rational, strategic transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources makes total sense. We need to change from oil to wind and solar and electric on a reasonable timeline.

Why is that so hard for both sides to understand?

Why can’t we stop arguing at extremes and, first, acknowledge the need for change?

Then, we’ll be able to get somewhere, instead of just butting heads.

And, by the way, there are electric airplanes being built and tested, as we speak. Some use batteries, some are solar powered. Very soon, electric cars will be the norm, and electric planes and trains aren’t far behind.

All we have to do is stop fighting long enough to do it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (6747 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – There’s nothing hypocritical about enviros using planes

  1. Tony Brumell // October 30, 2018 at 11:30 PM // Reply

    I agree with WHAT SHE SAID!!!!!!! or we all die prematurely

  2. Actually there is a whole bunch of hypocrisy in the coffee-shop type of enviros so common place these days.
    Reduce, reuse and recycle…they are in that order for a good reason…not because of the rhyme.
    Air travel could/should drop a whole bunch since most of it truly is for frivolous reasons. It is not so much about reducing the use of fossil fuel, which is in itself important, but it is about the big picture of resources depletion, of environmental impact elsewhere (that big yoga retreat in Panama used to be pristine jungle) and even people slavery in all them exotic places made affordable to the developed nations middle class on the skin of poorly paid and overworked locals.

  3. I don’t know a single environmentalist who says “We’ve got to put an end to oil production, right now, or we’re all gonna die!” What I hear commonly is “We’ve got to stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure so we don’t lock ourselves further into an unsustainable path and begin the serious work of transitioning away from oil”.

    That means approving no new pipelines and getting rid of the millions of dollars of subsidies for oil development, and it means a carbon tax or other emissions-reduction measures with teeth. Those are all reasonable measures if we are sincere in our desire to shift to safer energy sources, but even as I read them over, I can hear some folks responding, “That’s crazy!”

    You’re creating a false equivalency with your statement, Mel. The pro-oil lobby has been very effective at putting off indefinitely ANY reduction in GHGs — they have continued to rise. Here in Canada we have a series of plans which scientists and the government’s own Auditor General find woefully inadequate to reach even the unambitious goals we’ve set for ourselves.

    We’ve put off serious change so long that the situation is indeed getting ever close to the the statement you wrongly attribute to environmentalists. The time for half-hearted measures is long past. By having chosen to ignore the problem and continue the expansion of fossil fuel exploitation for so long, we have now gotten ourselves into a real pickle. You might not like the alarmist rhetoric, Mel, but the world’s scientists are now giving us 12 years to fix things. I’ll let you decide whether that’s “right now”.

    Read the IPCC public statement.

  4. Sean McGuinness // October 30, 2018 at 6:09 AM // Reply

    I consider myself to be an environmentalist, but I’m not in the habit of saying “We’ve got to put an end to oil production, right now, or we’re all gonna die!” Actually, most environmentalists I know believe in a planned transition away from fossil fuels to green energy. If we have gripe about something, it’s the lack of commitment to and deviation from these plans. Canada and BC have agreed to reaching certain carbon emissions targets. We’re not anywhere on track to meet them. Instead, we’re stuck here fighting stupid political battles while we witness the slow death of our planet. Where is the moral backbone we need from govt?

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