Artist Marit Bergman has already had a flight-free year and is now ready to take on another one. She believes we are about to achieve the critical mass needed to create new norms and collectively change society. "Instead of just settling with the anxiety, I somehow try to visualize the headlines in four years. When the first headlines come saying that ' we have managed to reverse it around'. "
Marit Bergman says that she, as so many others, has been aware that aviation involves very high emissions. She has therefore avoided one or two leisure trips by air, but it wasn't until she did a calculation of her carbon footprint that she really realized how much of a difference it makes to refrain from flying.
"I made a climate footprint calculation online and I scored pretty good. I have no car, I don’t eat meat, I don’t buy that many new things, live in an apartment in an environmentally friendly and so on. If I do not fly, I’m in the clear, but if I add a flight then I’m screwed.”
The last year, Marit has been pregnant and had a little baby. The only time she had to think about whether to choose a flight or train was when she was going to Piteå (in the far north of Sweden) to hold a lecture. She decided on the train.
"It was of course a bit more complicated, but it worked. Then I had already made it through a air-free year. I thought of posting it on social media just to celebrate my first air-free year as an adult. But then I started thinking whether I dare to promise not to fly next year as well. I decided 'Yes, of course I can, it's only one year'. But then it might turn into one more year and another year and another year."
Another event that affected Marit in her decision was during this summer when she sat on a bus on her way to Gothenburg with her newborn baby in her arms. Through the window she saw that it was a nice, foggy light outside.
"' Oh, how lovely it is ', I thought. Then I started to feel the smell of a bushfire. It was a collision between sitting with this warm little baby in one’s arms, which has been given a life for her to have a future, and at the same time feel the immediate effect of what we are doing. It was a revelation for me.”
Marit thinks that Greta Thunberg’s expresses herself so well when she says” You say you love your children, but you are doing your best to destroy their future”.
” But it is a case of getting to that understanding between one’s own actions and the bigger picture, and it's difficult when you’re only one person, I think. It’s so easy to think that it doesn’t matter what I do. But when it comes to flying the reduction that one person can achieve becomes actually quite huge. It also becomes a fairly easy lifestyle change to make. Just ignore booking the trip.”
Have you thought about the climate for a long time?
"I read Mark Lynas book (Six Degrees: Our future in a warmer world) when it came out (2008), and it was the beginning of my personal ‘climate anxiety’ in any way. Another book that Influenced me a lot is a book on tourism (Welcome to Paradise: Report on the tourist industry) by Jenny Dielemans. It was also a book which really made me think. It is not until now the realization has really sunk in, but it was those books which made me avoid flying by routine. "
Marit tells us that she previously tried not to think about the climate because it is too heavy to take in. That some part of her wished the climate deniers turned out to be right. Now she has stopped turning a blind eye, but instead tries to visualize a positive future.
"Instead of just settling with the anxiety, I somehow try to visualize the headlines in four years. When the first headlines come saying that ' we have managed to reverse it around'. " It's something in one self that previous thought it is impossible - financial systems are based on consumption, which is the whole cause of this not working. But somehow, it feels like we are about to achieve the critical mass necessary for society to be able to collectively turn around and create a new norm and make new decisions which will feel obvious.”
Marit says that norms have changed before, albeit not as quickly as needed now perhaps. However, given that we are now able to reach out quickly through internet, she still feels hopeful. Marit believes that if enough people take this kind of decision and put them out publicly, politicians will also act.
”If a movement is created which in plain terms says ’You won’t be able to remain in power after next election if you don’t shape up in this issue’, it’s clear that they will change their decisions accordingly.”
How will it affect you to opt out of flying for a year?
” I have not flown domestically for many years, except for when I have had jobs far up in the north of Sweden. When I travelled to Piteå and beyond I have flown. But this year when I went there, I took the night train and that was fine. I have, at some time in a weak moment, promised my older child that we would go on holiday to a sunnier place at some point, so that is going to be a thing we're going to have to talk about. But then I think he will be very satisfied with a trip to Öland (an island in the swedish east coast).”
Marit tells us she has been thinking a lot about flying and has gained a different perspective on travelling. She thinks that any joy she would get out of a trip by flying would be eaten up by the anxiety surrounding it.
"My new dream has become, that when the children are grown and moved out, to make a trip around the world by train and possibly a boat or two. I heard a report that they are developing new technology for boats where you will be able to use wind power in some way. So, my idea of being able to travel far and to a place I have not been before does not have to be completely defunct, it's just that I must do it in some other way. "
How do you feel about having made the decision to take a flight-free year?
"It feels great! It feels very positive. I still lie awake at night and wonder how it will go with the climate, but it feels like I’m doing something. Because flying releases such high emissions, it gives a clear effect not to.
This powerlessness I have felt is about to disappear a little. I also feel that although I may not be the world's greatest influencer, I still have a crowd of people who follow what I do, and those who follow me are often adult people whose decisions are important. ”
Marit says that even those who do not have a lot of followers on Instagram or a large audience have great possibility to influence others.
"A friend of mine, a young girl who is 18 years old who recently posted that she would not ever fly more in her life if no technical solutions come. She plants seeds in people around her. After all, her family wants the best for her future and of course they start to think too. ”
How will you influence more people to take a flight-free 2019?
” I’m working on a publication which I will publish. I’m also involved in a group called Music for Future. There are currently discussions about flying, and more and more people say that "you should be able to manage one year". If you think that you will never fly again, many people probably start to panic a bit. But if you think one year at a time I think it will be easier. "
We Stay on The Ground
We Stay on The Ground
Translated by Sara Littecke