The use of private jets to travel, whether it be across the world or quick 20-minute hops, is one of the most damaging things to the environment a person can do. The World Wildlife Fund calls air travel "one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change" and "currently the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make."
You probably know that flying private is one of the worst ways you can exacerbate climate change.
You also probably know that Bill Gates is an outspoken climate activist. Bill Gates flies privately. How does he justify his actions? And will he stop?
Gates sat down for a recent interview with the BBC, and the subject of his private plane use came up. Rather than apologize, Gates says his work in the field of climate change makes up for whatever damage his private plane travel might do in the long run:
"Well, I buy the gold standard of, funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family's carbon footprint. And I spend billions of dollars on … climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?"
Gates says he's "comfortable with the idea that, not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy Group is spending, that I'm part of the solution."
Carbon capture technology is supposed to capture carbon dioxide, believed to be a chief cause of global warming, out of the air, before it can damage the Earth's environment.
On a recent episode of his show, Bill Maher came out as frequent private flyer. The segment also featured a fun photo montage of celebrity climate activists getting onto or stepping off of private jets. The celebrities he highlighted happen to be among the most vocal climate activists in the world. Included in the montage were:
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Ben Affleck
- Prince Charles
- Brad Pitt
- Paul McCartney
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Beyonce and Jay-Z
Here's the full segment:
So here's the big question:
Let's say you truly care about and are worried for the environment. And let's say you win the lottery today. Tomorrow, are you flying private to Vegas or taking Southwest for $200 round trip?