Arsène Wenger came under fire Sunday for more than just running Alexis Sanchez into a forced three-week?/month?/year? injury break. He was deeply criticized by environmentalists for choosing to fly the team from London to Norwich, a 14-minute flight. Train or bus transport would have been in the neighborhood of 2 hours.
Arsène defended the decision, saying,
“When we made the decision there was some road work planned – sometimes the access to Norwich is difficult. We do not fly a lot any more. We take the train or coach. This is an exception.”
Even I, who defend the man at every turn, had to admit it seemed an odd decision. But I found myself more focused on the convenience differential. When I fly, I have to drive to the airport, check bags, clear Security. All of these things add a ton of travel time to a flight. A two-hour drive is faster than a 14-minute flight when you add the time you spend getting to and in the airport to the total. But we can admit it: those aren’t the conditions Arsenal travel under. Still, it seems that two travel hours by bus or train isn’t a huge hardship for our lads.
It didn’t occur to me how much more than driving air travel impacts the environment. My helpful spouse directed me to this article in the Chicago Tribune that sheds some light on the problem. For an instant summary, the title of the article helps: “Your plane trips are damaging the environment.” Somewhat unequivocal, no? The article produced an important fact pertaining to Arsenal’s decision to take a 14-minute flight: short flights are very damaging because taking off produces a large proportion of the CO2 emissions.
I’m no environmentalist, but I try not to be hostile to our planet. I walk to and use public transportation five days a week, recycle, conserve water, keep heat low in the winter, don’t air condition my house. I replaced my old windows with energy-efficient windows, have a low-flow toilet, energy-efficient vehicles.
I would have continued to believe I was a friendly acquaintance of the Earth until I read the article. Not only did my team, Arsenal, make a decision to take a very short and damaging flight, but the article also highlighted the size of the impact of a flight from the States to Europe. A round trip flight to Europe for two produces the same level of CO2 emissions as the average use of a car for an entire year.
I have already made two round-trip trips to Europe to see Arsenal, and by the time this football season draws to a close, I will likely have made as many as seven trips with one of my family members. That will produce the equivalent CO2 of 7 years of average car use.
Holy moly. That is a lot of CO2.
Naturally, I feel somewhat guilty about this. But, in the balance, it does not make me want to change my plans. This season is producing plenty of waste. Dollars, CO2. (This blog, some would argue.) But I can’t dream of not using this opportunity. It’s once in a lifetime. As long as “once” means 7 times.
Arsenal, I love you enough to destroy the earth.
I’ll make it up to you, Earth. Please don’t ask me how that will be possible.
Arsenal play Sunderland tomorrow, airing in the States at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Given all the team injuries, Arsène will have to play Flamini, and his pet hamster, and a tackling dummy, and his grandmother.
The match is at home. No flying this week, I promise.