South Korea Jamboree raises questions about travel

South Korea Jamboree raises questions about travel

Aug 10, 2023

Should young people be banned from travelling? Does anyone need to travel in the days of Zoom?

There is a letter in today's Guardian claiming that 4,500 scouts from the UK should not have flown for more than 11 hours to a jamboree in South Korea, creating thousands of tons of CO2 emissions, because modern technology now allows plenty of (remote) contact with people around the world.

I disagree. Real contact with foreign nations not only enriches the individuals but should be seen as a major investment in understanding and appreciation of others, leading to cooperation and long-term peace. It is how ideas are generated and shared.

However, it is a dilemma, nonetheless. The atmosphere cannot handle that carbon dioxide.

I, too, face that dilemma.

I have sold my car, I eat very little meat, I have planted trees and, by turning down the thermostat in a well insulated house, was able to make a cash profit on my fuel bills last winter.

But my business takes me to South East Asia and the Middle East. When there, I teach good governance - including climate governance - and harangue my students about their carbon economies.

Is my travel justified? Do my good habits at home compensate for the impact of flying?

I do not think they do. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing - but not as greenwashing.

I have run courses on Zoom and I sell courses on video. But they are not the same as being there, walking, talking and interacting. And they deny the additional benefit of what I bring back to the UK as a result of real experiences.

I am not alone facing this dilemma.

What do you think?