Travel Guide Writer's Crusade Against 'Binge Flying'

May 7th, 2007 8:50 PM

Sometimes the blog entries just write themselves. Mark Ellingham, a man who helped increase travel as a form of leisure is now telling people they should stop taking flights. It gets more ridiculous, however:

Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides and the man who encouraged a generation of travellers to pack a rucksack and explore the world, has compared the damage done by tourism to the impact of the tobacco industry.

Ellingham now says travelling is so environmentally destructive that there is no such thing as a genuinely ethical holiday. He wants the industry to educate travellers about the damage their holidays do to the environment. The development he regrets most is the public's appetite for what he calls 'binge-flying'. [...]

'It is hard to say the positive impact travelling has can ever outweigh the damage done by simply travelling to the destination,' he said. 'Balancing all the positives and negatives, I'm not convinced there is such a thing as a "responsible" or "ethical" holiday.'

Ellingham is calling for a £100 green tax on all flights to Europe and Africa, and £250 on flights to the rest of the world. He also wants investment to create a low-carbon economy, as well as a moratorium on airport expansion. [...]

Even so, he is keenly aware of the incongruity of making pronouncements about how people should moderate their behaviour. 'I acknowledge that I'm speaking about all of this from an apparently contradictory position but it's a question of working with what's realistic: if Rough Guides was to disappear overnight, I don't think anybody would fly any less. I think it's an entirely ethical position of mine to work with what's realistic by encouraging people to moderate the amount they fly, rather than stop altogether,' he said. 'It's up to people to make up their own minds about how they live their lives.'

While determined to encourage people to reduce the number of flights they take, Ellingham admits he has no intention of stopping himself, and he does not expect others to do so either. 'As a "recovering travel writer", I fly less than I would like to, but more than I know that ethically I should. The deal I have made with myself is to limit the number of flights I take to one long-haul and two or three shorter flights each year,' he said. 'I very much respect the purist attitudes of those who say they will never fly again, but it's totally unrealistic to expect the majority to do the same.'

So he doesn't expect anyone to listen to what he says, won't heed his own advice but since he's got in his own flying time as much as he has, Ellingham has decided it's OK to preach.

How is this any different from a former male prostitute who turns into a priest who rails against extramarital sex while continuing to engage in it albeit not as often?

Hat tip: Instapundit.