Yesterday Lloyd started a survey around the notion: "We have never had much luck convincing people that they should change their travel habits because of their carbon footprint, but is the economy making a difference?" Without wanting to prejudice our survey, we did observe that elsewhere Bloomberg.com was saying, 'Yes, it has.'
According to the numbers they obtained from the AAA (American Automobile Association) this Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, will see the lowest volume of Americans travelling since 2002, even though fuel prices are lower than they were back in early 2005.
Other intriguing figures are what's happening in air and rail travel. Train and bus travel is expected to rise by 5.8% (car journeys dropping by 1.2%) according to the AAA. They also predict that plane trips for Thanksgiving holiday period will be off by 7.2%. Although elsewhere in the Bloomberg article, the Air Transport Association, puts the fall in air travellers at 10%, saying it would be the first drop in seven years.
It seems then, based on such figures, in answering the question we posed recently, 'Are We Hurting Yet?', that the response might be, 'Yes.' But it is more economic, rather than environmental considerations, that elicit behavioural change in our choice of transport modes.
"Consumers are cutting back on anything they perceive as not being essential," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, interviewed for the Bloomberg piece.
How unfortunate that so many people must be feeling fiscal stress, before the planet as a whole benefits. But such paring back to essentials could just turn out to be useful apprenticeship training for when the brown stuff really hits the spinning thing. That is, the looming reality of Peak Oil and Climate Crisis. Which, remember, economist Nicholas Stern said, if unchecked, will be worse than the Great Depression and both world wars combined.
So, will we see carpooling extended from commutes to vacations? A rise in the sale of computer web cams? A resurgence in bus and train travel? Nearby community and neighbourhood celebrations in lieu of long distance family get-togethers? Or other more innovative answers to connecting with our dearest and not so nearest?
::Bloomberg, via web search
More Vacation Travel Changes on TreeHugger
The End of Aviation: What Will Happen When We Can't Afford To Fly?
Pack Less, Fly Direct, Stick With Economy: Greener Flying Tips
70% of All U.S. Drivers Change Habits for 2008
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