The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Leave Flying To The Birds (and the Insects)

Posted by keith on October 6th, 2009

Nature Air!

Something has been niggling me for a while: every time I open my Inbox, an old email goes flashing past, annoying but not quite annoying enough to blog about; but I kept it for when the niggle eventually became a pain. Back in April, for that joyous event that some companies like to call Earth Day (Week, Month, etc.), a company called Nature Air sent me a message all about their product.

Nature Air. It sounds like the merest zephyr that brings the tang of the wild into your nostrils and a cooling breeze across your skin.

Wrong. Nature Air is an airline – a small one, yes, with turboprop planes, but nevertheless an airline. “Airline” doesn’t mean life-saving doctors on call, emergency in the wilds of Australia, it means “Commercial enterprise that encourages flying in order to make money.”

So what did this email say?


As you are planning your Earth Day coverage I thought you would be interested in this recent news from NatureAir. While many companies are cutting costs today, NatureAir continues to spend money in an effort to save the planet and create a better future for Costa Rica children.

Just recently NatureAir expanded its sustainable projects and began using bio-diesel. The alternative fuel, formulated with recycled vegetable oils, is used to fuel all NatureAir ground equipment and vehicles. The use of bio-diesel has an enormous impact on the environment. A fleet that uses 1,000 gallons of bio-diesel per year generates enough CO2 emission reductions equivalent to removing 1.4 cars from our roadways. NatureAir is the first company to bring this cleaner, sustainable fuel to Costa Rica.

Please see the release below for more information on all NatureAir’s eco-friendly and educational projects and let me know if you have any questions or would like to speak with someone from NatureAir.

Thank you!

Carolyn Evert
Adventure Travel Media Source
Account Manager

And there was a press release attached — thanks, Carolyn. Now, reading through the email, you would be forgiven for thinking that Nature Air was running their planes on recycled vegetable oil; but, of course, that’s not possible due to the unforgiving nature of aircraft engines, which require highly refined kerosene to stay in the air — hence the caption in the photo above. Apart from running a few tiny ground vehicles on a bit of leftover cooking oil, what else are Nature Air doing to help “save the planet” (their words)?

Furthermore NatureAir reduces CO2 emissions through its fuel-efficient twin-engine planes, reduced taxi waits, and offsetting 100% of carbon emitted from every flight. The airline just embarked on its 5th consecutive year of compensations for its flight emissions, an approximately $90,000 yearly investment. 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions are compensated through preservation and reforestation of tropical forests in Southern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.

Every flight NatureAir takes to the skies guarantees that a forest will be free from clear cutting.

Wow! That’s brilliant! I can take a flight and save a rainforest!

So what about the kerosene being burnt in the engine that isn’t contributing to climate change in any way at all? Oh, it’s being offset by the forest preservation, which would not have been necessary without the greed of market capitalism, which Nature Air are just another part of. And don’t forget that there is no guarantee whatsoever that the preservation will be there for 200 years, which is how long it has to be in place to account for the carbon emissions. Someone must be checking all this.

Let’s check out their certification page at

Oh dear, it seems to have disappeared for the moment. I’ll try somewhere else

Since 2004, Nature Air has been the first airline to compensate for 100% of its carbon emissions from flight operations. We do this thru a locally certified compensation program, certified by the government and international third party auditors. Nature Air has chosen to support reforestation and conservation programs to help combat the impacts of deforestation in Costa Rica.

Well meaning, I’m sure, but incredibly naive.

The reason I decided to turn to this stupid email from this deluded company was because of a great blog written by my friend Annie on her blog a few days ago. She wrote about whether flying to see the family can ever be justified, which then raised a few comments about children being “denied” the opportunity of seeing far away places, and the chances of exotic experiences that would otherwise not be available if they didn’t fly. This, of course, is not “denial” at all — it is merely the way we were before we were sold the dream of being able to go wherever we want, very quickly, with little regard for our life-support system.

I will end with a comment that was made below the article itself, by another Annie, which I think is a wonderful statement of what holidays are about:

Most kids who fly abroad just go the beach or swimming pool of their hotel, eat chips and have no cultural experience whatsoever! Your children are NOT being deprived by not having foreign holidays. They live in a beautiful place with big gardens. Children need freedom and to be outside in nature not stuck in front of a telly, and the wilds of Wales are as good a place as any for that. Grasshoppers and ladybirds in your garden can be just as fascinating as an exotic animal. Also, your kids get to experience alternative culture at festivals etc. when they are older they can go anywhere they want – and by then trains might be cheaper and better and aeroplanes a thing of the past!

6 Responses to “Leave Flying To The Birds (and the Insects)”

  1. keith Says:

    …and the bats.

    K ;-)

  2. Klem Says:

    I don’t understand what your problem is here. This is the kind of crap every company out there is doing regarding trading carbon credits to offset their operations. This is what Cap&Trade emissions trading is for! You pay a few bucks to offset your carbon footprint and you can continue to spoil the environment as usual. This is exactly what Al Gore does, he burns through carbon like there’s no tomorrow, then he just buys the carbon credits from the company that he owns which is traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange which he owns. And carbon has been falling in price recently so some companies have swooped in and bought 50 years worth of carbon credits in single purchases. Cap&Trade is a joke. So welcome to the real world pal! Get used to it.

  3. Andy Collier Says:

    What about zeppelins? I have a secret wish that air travel will someday revert to helium zeppelins, powered by solar panels, traveling stately and slowly and quietly through the air!

  4. keith Says:

    And your point, Klem, is?

    Where did I say I supported: Cap & Trade or Al Gore?

  5. Dan C Says:

    The problem is not one particular technology or behavior, but the overall idea that overconsumption is ‘normal’ somehow. The best actual anti-consumption is ironically, proposed by some Republicans in the U.S.: it’s called “the FairTax”. Its goal is to replace all income taxes (consumption-encouraging) with a sales tax (consumption-discouraging). With a ‘prebate’ for basic level spending, it is progressively applied. The only debate left should be “how much”. I think that should be determined by resource use. If resource use is not declining per capita, then the tax needs to go up. At some point, the amount should be reevaluated for all economic and ecological factors.
    Pretty simple. Too simple.
    We will probably end up in more shooting wars instead.

    I saw the Nature Air plane on display at the Experimental Aircraft Association show in Oshkosh this year (If you are going to complain about the wasted resources, get to know the extent of the aviation problem.). Being a former ‘ ground support’ mechanic, I noticed that distinction quite easily. It takes very little support for a small turboprop like that. The equivalent of saying “My McMansion household is green because I use biofuel in my lawnmower.”

    Another point to focus on is the money involved. If it’s a “job”, it’s not green. Any time we work for someone else in their establishment, then we are not caring for the land or our own community. Every time a person gets hired, the act of employing them must be ‘profitable’ to the employer. This means that for every dollar a person earns, probably at least twice that many resources are consumed for them to have the job.
    Using money isolates the resources from the behavior of people. It turns the people into consumers and employees, rather than neighbors and family. Using money globally exacerbates the problem because everyone becomes a stranger to the transaction; individuals become “limited liability companies” in themselves.

    Airplanes are a rich white man’s hobby. I used to love them. I have come to despise what they represent to the earth. As James Howard Kunstler explains, “We put so much effort into traveling because we cannot stand what we’ve done to our own places.”

  6. gswork Says:

    Worth noting – without a massive global aircraft industrial base there would be no “life-saving doctors on call, emergency in the wilds of Australia” using aircraft.

    And let’s not imagine that aircraft used in the early 20th century came from anything other than big industry.

    Can’t have doctors in the air without all the infrastructure that aircraft need in manufacture, parts, maintenance, air traffic control and everything else.

    Could explore using a tiny fleet of small (and as simple as possible) aircraft just as air ambulances but it wouldn’t be anything like exists now.

    Can’t go around on bicycles without enormous global metal extraction, smelting, distribution, manufacturing either for that matter!

    nothing used in abundance is ‘cottage’ industry and hasn’t been for many decades, everything is connected to everything

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