Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 365 (049) Love Trips                                                              Aug. 22, 2007

The following podcast was first aired in 2007. A few updates have been added. It is still relevant. Perhaps more relevant than ever.

Love trips. Yes, that’s right. Love trips. It refers to those trips like we retired folks take to see either our children, grandchildren, or our parents – people we love. Trips that usually require us to line up, take off most of our clothing, and watch what we say; trips by plane. Trips that can take little time and yet span many miles. Trips that people who live in the industrial world now accepted as rather common. Trips that, thought, not pleasant, the results – ah, the results are invaluable time with the ones we love. We wouldn’t want to give those up. But, I’m now told - we must.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery

“Love Trips’, is a term I came across in a recently released book entitled, “Heat, How To Stop the Planet From Burning”. I heard the author, George Mombiot, interviewed on the CBC. He sounded brilliant and the topic – Climate Change is something that most of us are now acknowledging as a true problem. The interview was enlightening, and then he hit on, “love trips”. Of a sudden, my wife and I were all ears.

Now my wife loves to visit the grandchildren. We just spent three weeks with all of them rotating in and out of our house.  And before they had even completed their stay, my wife was talking about our next time to, “get together”. She was talking Christmas or perhaps Thanksgiving – just a few months.

She plans at least two visits each year with hopes and discussions about our daughter and family moving closer by so that we might see them anytime we wish. There is something about blood.

When we raised our children we tried to visit their grandparents once every two years. It was a long drive from Alaska to Iowa. We made it a few times and then moved on to the quicker way – the airplane. Forty years have passed – now the airplane seems natural and the number of trips has quadrupled.

Today’s mobile society demands distance and travel for college education and job placement. Children are very likely to be buying houses far from home. Thus – the love trip.

Airplanes require lots of fuel and they spew lots of carbon dioxide high in the atmosphere where it does the most damage as far as creating climate change. It heats us up. It’s a major player in what is killing us. Airplanes spews out a lot more carbon dioxide than other means of transportation. Just one trip in a plane of a few thousand miles can pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than you put there all year in your car. And that is just your share: total fuel divided by total number of passengers. Imagine, we all know that cars are big polluters; we scoff at SUVs and boast of our electric hybrid and now we find out that just one trip in a plane does big time damage. These love trips are killing the ones we are going to visit.

Easy to roll your eyes; easy to say, “I don’t believe it”; easy to ignore it – at least right now. That’s the way it is. We all like to make a few sacrifices – if it really isn’t a sacrifice; if it really doesn’t affect us personally; if it doesn’t crimp our style. Well, this just hits too close to home. What are we grandparents to do?

Ignore it for now. That is probably what most of us will do. It is one of those things that intelligent, affluent, and “ethical” people sometimes do. We have a dilemma. Better if we weren’t aware. Better if we remained ignorant. Better if we – fill in the blank.

This is going to be a tough one - for me – and my wife. We have learned that we can live without a car. We can live without a TV. We can live without many things. But living without visiting our children and grandchildren?

But if our trips to see them are really taking away the very earth they depend upon for life, we have little choice. This is going to require a lot of education and convincing. Plus that, who is going to tell, or persuade the airline industry that they must close up shop. Just think of how the tobacco industry lied to us for decades. Imagine the power of the airline industries. I’m sure the damage that, ‘love trips’ bring will be mocked and debunked big time.

I have a feeling that this one is going to have to be forced on us. Of course, as the world heats up – as it is, indeed, doing, we are going to be forced into changing many of our ways. Perhaps this is just the - tip of the, now melting, iceberg.

Seven years have passed since I wrote the above. I am amazed at how some things have changed and others have not. The cost of the Love Trip has been buried. Industry has been very effective in repressing this information. Neither peopler nor profits want to hear it. The price of flying has gone up to cover fuel cost and increased profits. The contributions that flying make to our weather change has been ignored. How much longer?

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