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‘Flight shame’ website lets you calculate your trip’s toll on climate


A WestJet airplane takes off from Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Aug. 31, 2018. - Eric Wynne
A WestJet airplane takes off from Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Aug. 31, 2018. - Eric Wynne

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Getting ready to cruise in first class from New York to Beijing? That will be 15.6 square metres of Arctic ice down the drain, thank you. Enjoy your flight.

Such statistics detailing the environmental toll wrought by jet-setting, or even just business travel, are the stuff of a new website, Shameplane.com, which aims to calculate how much Arctic sea ice melt a traveller’s flight causes.

For instance, a round-trip flight between Halifax and Toronto will result in the loss of 1.2 square metres of Arctic sea ice. (To offset those emissions, the site calculates you would need to use only LED light bulbs and reduce your food waste to zero for a year.)

A round trip between St. John’s and Halifax costs 0.9 square metres of sea ice (offset by recycling, using reusable bags and LED lights). Charlottetown to Vancouver and back costs 5.4 square metres of ice (recycle, live car-free, reduce food waste to zero) and a Sydney, N.S.-Fort McMurray, Alta., round trip would cause the loss of 4.5 square metres of sea ice, which according to the calculator could be offset by going vegetarian, recycling, using reusable shopping bags and reducing your food waste to zero for a year.

Visited by people from 120 countries since its creation in March, shameplane.com is spreading the Swedish-born concept of“flygskam,” or “flight shame, by exposing the environmental toll of just one person’s plane trip, co-creator Victor Muller said on Wednesday.

But Muller said he in fact created the site for himself, to ease his angst over ‘flygskam,’ and never anticipated its popularity.

So far the site has seen 30,000 visitors, from Kyrgyzstan to South Sudan and Martinique.

”It was just for me,“ Muller, 35, who lives in Sweden’s capital Stockholm, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding, ”It was never intended to shame anyone,“ despite its name.

And in fact it’s not even only about air travel.

Adopting environmentally conscious behaviors such as eschewing meat or living car-free for a year will cut the estimate for that New York-Beijing trip by about a fifth through emissions reduction, according to Shameplane.

But true to form, backlash has been part of the itinerary,with a handful of people emailing the designer to express offence at being shamed over large corporate emitters, Muller said.

Sea ice melt in the Arctic, home to the North Pole, is occurring as it warms at about double the average rate for the Earth overall.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Chris Michaud. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers climate change,humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

With files by The Chronicle Herald

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