by Amy Jones
Wednesday, 16
June 2021
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07:00

Covid-19 rules should not be used to tackle climate change

Certain scientists are using pandemic changes to pursue other agendas
by Amy Jones
Climate change protesters in Australia

Susan Michie’s recent interview with Freddie Sayers was illuminating, focusing on (among other things) face masks, test, trace and isolate, and pandemic responses around the world.

What was perhaps most interesting, however, was the discussion around borders. When asked about whether there could be a long term shift towards tighter travel restrictions, Michie did not give an equivocal answer: “What I do hope is that… there is more of a global way of looking at travel….Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to global warming”.

Clearly, for some, this crisis represents a way to further other agendas. Climate change is an ongoing concern, and it is apparent that some would like to capitalise on the disruption caused by the pandemic to encourage fundamental changes to the way we travel. Michie is not the only scientist to voice these beliefs; in an article submitted to the BMJ, Deenan Pillay, a member of the so-called Independent SAGE committee, argued:

We should reduce the amount of air travel not only because of Covid-19 but also because of the detrimental impact that this has on our climate….The aviation industry’s current enthusiasm to resume international air travel and overseas holidays, and to expand airports needs to be checked. It flies in the face of the twin needs to control international virus transmission and tackle the climate emergency and environmental degradation.
- Deenan Pillay

This mission creep on curtailing our freedoms is concerning. While the general public may sign up to short term restrictions for the pandemic’s sake, long term “population-wide behavioural changes” (as Michie terms it) are another thing altogether. This is a bait-and-switch that will not only result in the decimation of the travel industry, but threatens to return going abroad to the preserve of the rich. There’s no question that climate change represents a real and significant threat to humanity, but using Covid to leverage such sweeping changes is disingenuous and underhanded.

Any discussion on changes to travel in order combat climate change must take place openly on its own merits, while also accounting for what we will be sacrificing. We live in a global society, and travel is fundamental component of that. Families, friends, and careers now span borders — to restrict that would have significant consequences to our way of life. Considering the huge impact, it is unnerving to see people attempt to use Covid restrictions as a Trojan horse to bring in such massive changes.

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Ailsa Roddie
Ailsa Roddie
1 year ago

Climate change is probably my number one worry about the future, but I still agree with Amy on this.

If we look at who contributes what to carbon emissions via air travel, we see that most carbon emissions are caused by a small group of frequent fliers, not families getting one holiday a year if they are lucky.

So, I’d like to know what the proposals are to stop the very richest from consuming our collective carbon budget with reckless abandon. This seems quite far outside of Michie’s field of expertise so her opinion carries the weight of any random on the street.

Meanwhile the rest of us need a holiday and I’d like to see my overseas family who I’ve literally not seen in years.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ailsa Roddie
Ailsa Roddie
Ailsa Roddie
1 year ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

I’m wondering if I got downvoted by a Michie fan, a climate change denier, a radical environmentalist, a wealthy frequent flier or someone else. It’s hard to guess really!

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

well I just cancelled that by an upvote! I’m all for limiting air travel but for everyone. I too would like to see my family in GB again….

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

All of Europe falls into your category of “the very richest” so those one holiday a year families can forget about it. No joy for them in your green dystopia.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

Frequent fliers fly more often. But ordinary families in much greater numbers.

Blamng carbon emissions only on the former is far from the whole truth.

Besides, despite our exempting plane fuel from tax, airlines barely break-even on the ordinary people in Economy (“pig class” as it’s brutally called in the trade), Airlines only make a profit – enabling foreign travel to happen at all – on their Business and First Class travellers.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago

Another “conspiracy” theory proven true by the way …
It was never about our health it is just about control …
And by the way I have yet to see the first study that really shows that the drastic reduction on flights that we have experienced over tha last year has had any meaningful effect on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere or even the global temperature.
If we didn’t see an effect last year, putting restrictions on flying will be just a waste of time and money, as I doubt we can fly even less than during that last 15 months.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fran Martinez
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

There will be a study which confirms that it’s worse than we thought but can all be fixed if we start NOW funnelling more public money into windfarms and bicycle paths.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago

It can’t be fixed. Both we and our society are kaput.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Air quality improved during the lockdowns.

And carbon emissions were reduced.

Claiming otherwise is to reject science itself.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

It’s reasonable to assume that CO2 emissions from travel were reduced. Air quality hasn’t discernibly changed where I live. No science required.

Peter LR
Peter LR
1 year ago

Yes, it’s hard to imagine that someone as well-off as Prof Richie will never fly again. And why not reduce the Internet which produces as much CO2 as the aviation industry?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Why not do both?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter LR

There was that Oscar winning lovie who not too long ago was berated for flying first class too and from New York to lecture us on climate change.
I am sick and tired of being lectured about how I need to change and make sacrifices by wealth individuals who leave a bigger carbon footprint in one year than I will leave in my lifetime.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions:

  1. No first class or business travel
  2. No private jet charters
  3. No more than 3 television channels on for no more than 12 hours a day
  4. No professional sport
  5. 90% reduction in new film, TV and music production
  6. Ban all music festivals
  7. Ban on internet enabled phones for personal use
  8. Ban on all social media and streaming services
Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago

Private airlines only make money from first class and business travel. To ban them is to ban foreign travel as a whole.

Why should air travel take presence over TV, sport, music, mobiles, Twitter – which are much more freeing?

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Twitter is more freeing ?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

They really have got to you.
Also, what I was thinking was that the internet is predicted to consume 20% of the worlds electricity production by 2025.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
1 year ago

Mission Creep is an excellent term for what seems to be going on. The pet scientists have been given all the power while actual world famous medical and other scientists are being shut down. Conspiracy theories seem to be becoming more and more credible!

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Yeah – witness your comments.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

It would be nice if these scientists would argue for better housing and efficient social care where people get the help to take their lives and health in their own hands (Hillary Cottam, Radical): together with a climate and earth friendly agriculture (which will also improve the health of people) this will reduce the use of medicine vastly which will be a real help to the climate and pollution issues of this planet: far far far more than air-travel.
But of course the SAGE scientist appear to live in a little bubble when there are no social issues, no sick people, only covid, and where food comes from supermarkets…
Media scientists: OPEN YOUR EYES AND MINDS PLEASE…. history will look on you like we are still in the middle ages (yes we have more technology, but that is it)

Laura Ortu
Laura Ortu
1 year ago

That resonated so much with me. Using the pandemic to “cure” an issue important issues following the rule of “2 birds with one stone”, I completely reject it! it is such an approximate thinking and a very generalised one, it really lacks understanding (especially by academics!) on how the world we live in is complex and diverse. The interview with Freddie Sayers she also refers to travellers only to the academic world and whilst watching I was screaming behind my screen. How about travel to meet your family, reunite with loved ones, work, economic migration… actual real need even taking a break from the environment you live in! Her tone referring to academics was such an elitist one that made me cringe! THey should provide facts about scientific data and not “opinion” on what people should or shouldn’t t do or why. She and her folks really live on a completely different planet!

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Ortu
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago

“There’s no question that climate change represents a real and significant threat to humanity”

There is such a question actually. You may have heard at some point that there are people who don’t believe that the science behind this belief is robust, or that it’s even ideologically motivated. But those people are just crazy conspiracy theorists, right? I mean, everyone knows scientists are never willing to mislead people about a crisis …

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
11 months ago

Is there a more evil woman in the country than la Michie?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

‘Families, friends, and careers now span borders — to restrict that would have significant consequences to our way of life’ – well, yes. *Not* restricting it is already having drastic and irreparable consequences to our way of life, tho they may not yet be quite so apparent as the jolliness of a foreign holiday, a ‘gap year’ or a conference in Bologna…Becoming more aware, during the pandemic, of alternatives to our current planet-wasting ways is a Good Thing, not a sinister, clandestine Guv’mint plot.

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago

Andrew no one is stopping you from living a eco, carbon free life: never fly only travel by foot, recycle all your carbon spewing modern electronics and belongings, dismantle your carbon spewing dwelling, stop eating carbon spewing processed food.
Live naked under a tree licking fungus off rocks, you do you, smug in the knowledge that you are not contributing any carbon. Except by your breathing so you should probably give that up too.
Then when your no longer a hypocrite your welcome to come back and preach to us on how we should live

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  George Glashan

I believe you meant to say ‘you’re welcome’, not ‘your welcome’, and ‘you’re no longer a hypocrite’, too. Otherwise well done on spelling, but you need to raise your game on the rhetoric if you mean to get a reply from me.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

Well said, Andrew. Now show some leadership .
The first thing you need to do is refuse any aid from fossil fuels or hydrocarbons. No planet-destroying fossil-fuelled planes, ambulances, fire engines, helicopters, trucks or cars to be used in any way to help you or your loved ones.
This will be the inspirational kick the world needs to give up their planet-wasting ways!

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

Straw men make bad arguments. ‘The first thing you need to do…’ ? I’m just suggesting that we could dial down some of the more nauseatingly over-consumptive habits we have here in the top tier economies to nearer the global average, c’est tout. You’re making up the rest.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

You’re saying “we” repeatedly, but you don’t seem to include yourself. Is this another newly-defined pronoun?