A flying shame – website calculates how your flight damages the Arctic


Demand for air travel is set to double by 2037, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) but damage to the climate caused as a result of carbon emissions and other heat-trapping chemicals, leading to a global flying shame movement across the globe.

With one trans-Atlantic flight emitting about one tonne of carbon dioxide per passenger, the effects are significant.

Sweden has been a centre for the flying shame movement, or “flygskam” in Swedish, but concern is growing worldwide as the knowledge is shared by scientists, activists, and the man on the street.

Victor Müller, a Swedish digital designer, was grappling with climate change fears of his own in 2018, noting reports on global warming and the possible results, and after seeing the groundswell raised by fellow-Swede Greta Thunberg, he started examining his own carbon impact.

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Müller told Vox.com that although he’d converted to Veganism, reduced his use of plastics, and started using reusable bags for shopping, he was shocked to find that when tallied up against the greenhouse gases generated during his next flight, his efforts were almost negligible.

He found research that showed a definite link between air travel and the loss of Arctic sea ice, and in partnership with developer Dennis Mårtensson, Müller launched a website, Shame Plane, with the aim of helping people understand the impact of air travel.

Customers need simply enter their departure city and destination, and the site calculates the total carbon emissions of their flight, and in turn, how much Arctic ice would melt as a result.

Image credit: Shame Plane

The good news is that the site will also compare the flight to actions one could take to reduce the emissions impact, such as giving up driving, or using LED bulbs.

One might claim that the strongest actions to fight climate change will be driven by governmental policy changes, requiring utilities to use more renewable energy, or driving the adoption of greener farming methods, but according to Müller, individual actions do have an impact as they create the demand for the reforms needed to prevent further global warming.

“Every corporation [has] end-consumers, and a citizen in a free market [has] a vote in how those corporations behave,” he said.