Belgium in Brief: Planes, principles and the planet

Belgium in Brief: Planes, principles and the planet
Credit: Belga/Pexels

One of the powers of participative media is to broadcast social struggles far beyond their immediate surroundings, providing a space for community solidarity to flourish even among those unaffected by the hardship at hand.

Yet this solidarity, often candidly expressed as a badge of honour on social media, falls short of qualifying for activism – although many would like to think that by proclaiming their commitment to a cause, they are essential to its progress. There is an oft-overlooked difference between hopes and principles.

Principles are proven by being put to the test; the whole point is that you stick to them even when it would be easier to do otherwise. A principle takes precedence over other considerations, most commonly in a consumer society: the cost.

A survey among young people shows that concerns regarding the significant environmental impact of flying is leading many to pay more attention to how they travel and the effect this has on their surroundings. For those willing to hear the warnings of climate scientists, flying is one of the most damaging activities you can do. We hear a lot about the difference that diet makes, but the tonne of CO2 you'll save in a year by going vegan will be immediately offset by a single flight outside Europe (or a few short-haul trips).

If we are growing accustomed to putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to food, we're far less willing to go without the cheap getaway to somewhere sunny. If we are, this is more likely to be for reasons of cost rather than an effort to cut our carbon footprint. People's readiness to look objectively at the impact of their habits remains limited, however much we might voice our feelings online.

Indeed, one of the survey findings showed that young people are sensitive to how they are perceived on social media and post fewer images of them flying. A small but increasingly popular contingent is sharing their experiences of alternative transport modes, particularly highlighting the adventure of travel rather than the destination exclusively.

We're a long way from environmental maturity, particularly when it conflicts with comfort and convenience. World leaders are meeting this week to discuss international measures that might eventually do some good for the planet (if we're lucky). But with progress hopelessly slow, how far would you be willing to go to lower your environmental impact? Let @Orlando_tbt know.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

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