Forum Home» Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News

'Apparently I’m an environmental scourge' blog discussion - Page 2

New Post Advanced Search

'Apparently I’m an environmental scourge' blog discussion

31 replies 3.7K views


  • mmilliemmillie Forumite
    81 posts
    Mr. Deidier was actually making a very good point until his manners went. I have to wonder if that's why he got attention though.

    Martin, your point about simply making people aware of cheaper options to do the same thing is really not defensible. Since the advent of cheap flights, more people fly. More people flying means more flights. More flights means more CO2. Before the advent of budget airlines, people would get the train to Scotland, or go abroad once a year. Now people fly such short distances as London to Manchester, and nip across to the continent several times a year, and that's all due to the easy availability of cheap flights. Worldwide air travel releases nearly 50% as much CO2 as all the rest of the sources in Europe put together, and cheap flights play a significant part in that.

    There seems to be an assumption that people have a right to fly wherever they want. Why should that be the case? Flying is the worst form of travel for CO2 emissions, because the CO2 released in the upper atmosphere has a many times more devastating effect on the planet. ZTD makes an well presented case that it makes no difference, we will use all the oil up. Well presented, but wrong. Different uses of oil release different amounts of CO2, and air travel is very much at the top of the bad list. The WHO estimates that global warming is currently responsible for 150,000 deaths a year, and it's growing rapidly. Why do people have an automatic right to do that?

    Put it another way. 50 years ago, doctors told us how a nice cigarette was good for our health, and everyone had a right to smoke wherever they wanted - on the bus, in the office, in a hospital. Now it's is known to be so harmful to humanity that it is severely restricted. 50 years ago travel agents told us how good it was to spend money on foreign travel. 10 years ago scientists told us that air travel was a significant contributor to killing the planet. Isn't it time to be responsible about what we do with our rights?

    On that note, I can see a guide to saving money by giving up smoking, but not a guide to saving money on cheap cigarettes. Could it be that you are not morally neutral when it comes to moneysaving, and just need persuading on the morals of air travel?

    The UK government along with other G8 countries has a target to cut our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. That means emitting 5 times less CO2 per person. The government has signed up to that because we are all screwed unless we achieve it. Latest estimates are that global warming means Moscow winters for us in the UK, not Mediterranean summers, and personally I'd rather avoid that.

    And by the way, an 80% cut doesn't mean offsetting 80% of our carbon. Offsetting typically that's just used to pay to help poorer countries slow the rate of increase of their CO2 emissions (e.g. energy saving bulbs for Africa and so on), but those countries have their own targets too, and offsetting doesn't bring us any closer to ours. I'm not saying don't offset, just don't kid yourself about what it is doing.

    Can you imagine us getting anywhere near to our 80% cuts with the current level of air travel? No way. The right thing to do is to stop promoting cheap travel, let most of the airlines go out of business due to lack of custom, and take a positive step to saving us all.

  • edited 22 July 2009 at 12:13AM
    MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
    8.3K posts
    edited 22 July 2009 at 12:13AM
    MMillie, you make some very good well argued points, and its interesting reading.

    Yet I think to an extent you've missed my argument. While I certainly don't believe "all flying is bad" my point was by simply pricing people out of the market place you reduce flying to something for the rich.

    If you want to stop flying. One option is to allow people an annual quota of flights, after all its passport controlled.

    I don't necessarily agree with the solution, but I think the problem is society has to make its mind up on its attitude to flying.

    Is it a great thing
    A guilty pleasure
    Or simply wrong.

    While your perspective is the third, I suspect you're not in the majority (I will do a site vote over the next few weeks). Certainly many people (as i say, Im not one) are not yet persuaded even of the basic scientific facts behind global warming - and that's before we get into the "cows farting is worse than flying arguments."

    Your smoking anology is a good one, and I have sat and tried to think through why, as you rightly point out, there's no "cheap cigs" guide. Perhaps some is my own position - i fly - i dont and never have smoked. Some is also general societal attitudes, most people acknowledge the 'bad' of smoking, even if they do it, far from the same could be said of flying.

    Even so, your post was food for thought and I thank you for it

    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • nearlyrichnearlyrich Forumite
    13.7K posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Hung up my suit! Mortgage-free Glee!
    I'm not convinced about global warming, over centuries there have been extremes of weather, ice ages, floods etc etc.

    I am grateful for the flight checker why pay more than necessary for a flight and why shouldn't people enjoy a holiday after working all year?

    Each to their own but there is no need to call someone names in order to get publicity for a crackpot idea.
    Free impartial debt advice from: National Debtline or Stepchange[/CENTER]
  • mmilliemmillie Forumite
    81 posts

    I'm glad it made you at least think about the issue some more.

    I agree that pricing is a rather unfair tool to try to modify behaviour. I didn't actually say ban cheap flights - all I said was stop promoting them, in the hope that less advertising of cheap flights means people are less likely to take unnecessary flights. The quota suggestion is a reasonable way of doing that in my opinion, especially if your quota is saleable, so you can profit from good behaviour rather than be punished for bad.

  • ClowanceClowance Forumite
    1.7K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts I've been Money Tipped!
    So you are indirectly responsible for deaths through global warming?
    What about the people you are helping to get out or stay out of debt - many suicides are related to financial difficulties.
    If such sweeping generalisations are made, then I would like to point out that you have probably SAVED many lives thanks to your financial advice and the support of other forum users.

    I suppose as you are a celebrity you are going to get attacked by all sorts of people for all sorts of things. Don't let it get you down - millions of moneysavers are very grateful to you for this site.
    :j Don't forget quidco/topcashback - I do!:j
  • melanchollymelancholly Forumite
    7.5K posts
    the cheap airlines seem to offer you the chance to carbon offset your flight before you pay (possibly an easyjet thing?) - never seen that on a major airline website (not that i use many!)! whether that just eases guilt and doesn't really help is another matter entirely!

    anyway, if i could get a train to somewhere 'close' in europe or somewhere in the UK for the same price as a flight, i'd do it (and have done it!). the price is often prohibitive - this isn't all about the pricing of flights or quotas - there's also a role for alternatives being pushed and made competitive. it's a complicated issue and as with most things, there is no single way to stop things. i'd go with alternative options rather than guilt as a more effective motivator!

    fundamentally, i can't see how telling people how to get their holiday cheaper is any more of a promotion than the entire grabbits board where people post the best way to buy items.... it's missing the entire point of the site to say that anything here promotes spending money.
  • plebeianplebeian Forumite
    39 posts
    "vituperative" easy to tell you play Scrabble Martin..

    Sadly this idiot's actions will only harm the movement against global warming. People aren't going to be weaned off their 4x4s or flights with acerbic attacks like his.

    I like Martin's point about flying being 'democratising'. I saw a news report about how the Maldives will be one of the first victims to rising sea levels, but I was just think how if it weren't for air travel most of us probably wouldn't know they existed! I like my lunch with a side or irony.
    "We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have been doing so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing."
    - Konstantin Josef Jireček
  • Richard019Richard019 Forumite
    452 posts
    What a clown, does he not realise that by having a website he's encouraging people to own a computer, which uses electricity, the generation of which contributes to global warming. And by sending his email to such a popular website getting us all reading about it and talking about it he's magnified that greatly. in fact that means his email complaining about the cheap flights checker is also responsible for at least a portion of the deaths from global warming. As he's such an expert on the subject he must have known this which makes it murder, rather than the manslaughter caused by Martin's negligence (as claimed). ;)

    On the carbon footprint issue, why does train travel not count towards it on the calculaters but air travel does?

    I was told before that it was to do with emmissions being so low per passenger, but on a lot of my train journeys the trains are pretty empty so my 'share' of the emissions must be greater than they'd be if I was driving.

    On that basis it would be because it was running whether I made the journey or not. In which case flights surely fall under the same condition? If there's an empty seat on a plane they don't cancel/delay it until it's been filled.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
    14.5K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Another angle...

    'No-frills' airlines have sales to bring people to their websites, but without the tools offered by this and similar sites, it is virtually impossible to find the really cheap flights. The plan must be to use these 'sales' to generate higher numbers of passengers paying full fare. So Martin is actually subverting this, by enabling people actually to get the cheap flights. Again, advice on this site enables people to avoid credit-card fees and the other ways in which these airlines generate revenue from 'sales'. Overall, MSE probably reduces the profits of the 'no-frills' airlines, and so should be welcomed by environmentalists.

    I do agree with Melancholy that rail travel around Europe would be a better option. In fact there are ways for this to be affordable, and I wish that this site could provide an article on cheap international train travel.

    (A wistful note: I'm posting from a country where the last passenger train ran three years ago, so I wish I had the option of letting "the train take the strain".)
  • saveralotsaveralot Forumite
    70 posts
    Dear complaint

    Martin is just trying to save us money. We'd have got a flight anyhow, but this means we get one for a lot less.

    As for carbon footprint malarky, I think its a lot of old fluff.
This discussion has been closed.

Quick links

Essential Money | Who & Where are you? | Work & Benefits | Household and travel | Shopping & Freebies | About MSE | The MoneySavers Arms | Covid-19 & Coronavirus Support