When meteorologist Eric Holthaus read the recent climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he saw that things were worse than even he had anticipated.
Writing a reaction piece in Quartz, Holthaus wrote that for the first time, the IPCC's report "mentioned projections of climate change beyond 2100 and painted a picture of a bleak world, possibly unrecognizable to those living today, should fossil fuel use continue on its current trajectory."
Then, while getting ready to board a flight in San Francisco on Sept. 27, Holthaus began tweeting about his more emotional reaction to the report.
I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I've never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013
I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I'm committing right now to stop flying. It's not worth the climate.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013
It's not an empty sacrifice for Holthaus, an avid traveler.
In another post for Quartz, Holthaus writes that while he's long done things to help the environment (he recycles, doesn't eat meat, brings his own bags to the store, etc.), his flying habits (75,000 miles flown last year) were no longer something he could ignore.
Holthaus used a carbon footprint calculator from UC Berkeley and found that his flying accounted for nearly half of his household's emissions. He found that if he stopped flying, his carbon footprint would go from being about double the American average to around 30 percent less than average.
I’ll still have to travel a lot (by car and train), and I’ll use videoconferencing for meetings I can’t miss. But by removing my single biggest impact on the climate in one swoop, I can rest a bit easier knowing I’ve begun to heed the IPCC’s call to action. Individual gestures, repeated by millions of people, could make a huge difference.