What do people misunderstand about air travel?

Traveling in times of climate change: when the distance calls

Our author likes to travel to Wendland. That keeps the ecological footprint small. Must also: She also loves holidays in Asia, every winter.

Bad for the climate: every winter our author flies into the distance Photo: Eva Darron / Unsplash

HANOVERtaz | This time I'll just stay at home. Who hasn't decided to do that when you have to decide at the beginning of the year when you want to go on vacation in summer? Usually you don't know yet. So it would be nice not to have to plan anything. And then all the stress on long train journeys, on the plane, in the poorly air-conditioned car. So why not keep the ecological footprint small and take a vacation in the region? Relaxation on the doorstep. The corners around the corner are usually worst known.

More and more people in Germany have this idea. For April alone, the Federal Statistical Office reports over 33 million overnight stays by domestic tourists. That is over 12 percent more than in April 2018. So isn't Germany that far removed from resource-conserving tourism?

Yes and no. After all, who says that the domestic researchers from April won't get on the plane to Sao Paulo, New York and the Maldives after all?

Me for example. In summer I never drive far away, but always to the same place, in a small village in Wendland in Lower Saxony. I have everything I need there. A bed, an espresso machine, bicycles. Forest, fields, meadows, a lake. Insanely nice neighbors and peace and quiet. In Wendland I only move around by bike and on foot. It's good for my weight, my wallet and my ecological footprint. You can test it, for example on the homepage of the aid organization Bread for the World. You have to answer questions like: How often do you eat meat? How many kilometers do you travel by train per week? How often do you throw food away?

I have to go to Asia once a year

My values ​​are great, when it comes to nutrition and consumption, I am well below average. But then it comes. My winter flight to Asia every year makes my ecological footprint so big that - according to the analysis - we would need 2.8 planets if everyone lived like me.

“Are you surprised?” Asks the homepage. Yes I am. Although I basically know that. Will I now change my behavior and will I now exclusively spend my days off in the small village in Lower Saxony? No way.

I have to go to Asia once a year. I love Vietnam, Laos, the north of Thailand, Myanmar, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia ... I love the colors there, the smells, the people, the other culture. The heat when the sweat runs down the insides of my thighs. The overcrowded big cities with their noise and at the same time the cosiness that these metropolises have in them. Anyone who has experienced Bangkok, truly a juggernaut, with which sunrise begins to live, is what happened. In any case, it happened to me many years ago and now I have to go there once a year, otherwise I won't feel well.

I could take the train, yes. Just like Kim Il Sung did, the grandfather of the current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. More than 30 years ago Sung traveled by train to East Berlin to see Erich Honecker, the then Chairman of the State Council. But not because Sung wanted to protect the climate. He was afraid of being shot down on the plane.

It is over 8,600 kilometers from Berlin to Bangkok. It would take me about two weeks by train. Even the three more days of vacation that the Weiberwirtschaft, a feminist industrial estate in Berlin, is now granting its employees who travel by train and bus are not enough.

It is an insoluble conflict. Most people are like me, even the most radical eco-greens. Greta Thunberg, the “Fridays for Future” activist, takes the ship to the United Nations climate summit in New York in September, then takes the train to the world climate conference in Santiago de Chile. The Swedish student does not go to school for a year.