How on Earth Can Kate Stay Grounded? (Part 2/4)
Ok, not literally. But kind of.
Its name is Mbozi and it lives in Southern Tanzania. Made out of nickel and iron, it crashed to Earth over a thousand years ago, pummelled to its remaining bits by the Earth’s atmosphere after travelling for a million years or so. It was only discovered, officially and by a guy called W.H. Nott, in 1930. And, if you find yourself near the southwestern slope of Marengi Hill, off the road to Tunduma, you can go see it for 1,000 Tanzanian shillings, or 50p.
While there, have a go at me. Please.
That rock is my wanderlust. It personifies my emotional and physical attachments to flying, my personal and professional commitments and desires. It represents me – and, to some degree, my family’s gypsy DNA, as I explained last week. But its impact on the world is notable.
I flew enough times last year to create 12 tonnes of CO2. And you know what? That’s exactly the same weight as Mbozi, the world’s eighth-largest meteorite.
It’s mind-boggling that the sixteen flights I took in seven months last year weigh that much (or look like that), but without Mbozi, this ethereal notion of CO2 seeping into the atmosphere doesn’t mean much to me. Mbozi is what happens when I get in a plane, recline my seat its full 3cm, breathe in some fumes, strap on my seatbelt and sit back for the salty pretzels, diet Coke and in-flight entertainment.
I fly so much that I’m an expert at which airports require shoes off and laptops out. I’ve survived a near plane crash in Chile (the businessman next to me, who was reading (yes, actually reading) a porn magazine, didn’t even blink an eye), second-degree burns from an over-microwaved ham-and-cheese sandwich, and the torture of a child who played foot drums against my seat for the entirety of a 15-hour flight to Fiji.
But never did I actually “see” the impact all my flying has done. And while Mbozi isn’t, actually, my flights’ CO2 curdled into one big rock, I only have myself to blame for the world’s weirder weather, rising sea levels, and all that bad post-pretzel indigestion.
Using Climate Care’s carbon calculator [www.climatecare.org], I looked at where I’d been, how many stopovers I made to get there, and how much carbon it all produced, all within the twelve months of 2007. (You’ll note that the spring was my “Quiet Period”, but don’t be fooled. I travelled enough past April to turn a pebble into a meteorite).
A lot of those flights were for work, but a lot of them were also for pleasure. And some of them mingled both work and pleasure -like my voyage out to the deliciously lunar landscape of Iceland, where I covered an indie and electro music festival called Icelandic Airwaves and ended up gracing NME’s coverage on the wicked after-party in the Blue Lagoon (where you can see me, in my pink-and-blue shades, pictured above).
I definitely could have avoided some of those flights (Cancun and Tel Aviv were pretty superfluous, although I’m glad I went to both those places), and I surely should have avoided the layovers (like when my luggage was stolen in Mexico and I had to wait in Minneapolis in a miniskirt for three hours in minus 18C weather).
But surely there must be a way that we can zip through the air without killing everything underneath it? I’ll leave the organically-stocked, sustainably-fuelled planes (made out of recycled materials and soundless as birds) to the engineers and dream enthusiasts.
In the interim, I’m taking a look at my carbon offsetting options – investments in hydro-electric dams in China, putting money into portfolios to get Ethiopians better stoves or planting some trees. Mbozi – now black and burly – shall soon be green. Ok, not green. But a little bit greener.