Wow, it’s been quite the journey getting to Winterthur, with tight legroom and tighter transfers. Hectic layovers aside, all this travelling has left me thinking deeply about the carbon footprint we leave behind at every leg.
First Leg: Singapore - Dubai - Frankfurt
I boarded an Emirates 777 from Changi and set off on my way to my layover in Dubai. The flight was uneventful, and I got lots of work done. There’s so much time spent idling/watching movies/reading on a plane. It was nice to feel productive for a couple of hours. 7 hours later, and we arrive in Dubai.
It was a 1h 20m layover, which sounded leisurely. I took my time getting into the transfer terminal, only to find out my flight was in an entirely different building. Thanks to the stellar design of Dubai International, the only way to get there was by a little airport bus, with an awful frequency. The ride itself took over 20 minutes, and it was clear that I was running out of time.
I had to sprint to my boarding gate, which was already on its last call. I barely made it, and it was sheer good fortune/efficient logistics that my luggage made it as well.
Second Leg: Karlsruhe - Basel - Zurich
One might imagine German trains are precise, punctual, perfect. Much to my dismay, my first train was 20 minutes late. This wouldn’t be too bad, except that my transfer was also 20 minutes. Snap.
There isn’t much else to this story, except having to sprint 3 platforms within 2 minutes while hauling my enormous suitcase. Now on to the serious stuff.
Jet-setting Glamour - But at What Cost?
A whirlwind life of world travel, new experiences and incredible sights isn’t all peaches and cream. Tight layovers and terminal sprinting aside, how much are we damaging the environment with every trip we take? The global travel network is an incredible enabler of communication, commerce and cooperation, but it simply won’t be sustainable at the rate we’re going right now.
A few hundred grams of carbon every time we take a trip doesn’t sound like much, but with the sheer volume of traffic daily, it absolutely adds up. We must think of novel modes of mobility. Public transport, fuel-efficient engines and car-sharing are all great initiatives. But for humanity to continue to thrive without bleeding our planet dry, we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about travel.
Here at the WAVE Trophy, it would be naive to say that electric cars are the penicillin to our plague. They too suffer from high cost of manufacture, pollutants from batteries and electronics, not to mention the source of their power is often fossil fuels. They’re a step in the right direction, and the importance of starting the global conversation cannot be underestimated.
The problem of sustainable travel must grow to be in the consciousness of the everyday traveller. With sufficient advocacy, awareness and action, our dreams of a stunning, clean, utopian future are assured for generations to come.