Former Pilot Quits Flying Due to Environmental Impact of Aviation Industry

Reported by:


As awareness of the devastating impact of climate change grows, more and more people question the ethics of air travel. Rainforests are being destroyed, corals are dying, and oceans are filling with plastic, all due to the continued pumping of carbon into the atmosphere. Almost all scientists agree that global warming poses a threat to the survival of many species.

Smith Todd, a former pilot, has decided to leave the aviation industry after learning about the environmental impact of flying. The former pilot believes that the cost to the planet is too high to justify continuing to work in the industry.

Former Pilot Quits Flying Due to Environmental Impact of Aviation Industry
Former Pilot Quits Flying Due to Environmental Impact of Aviation Industry

In 2018, Smith was forced to take a break from flying after experiencing gut inflammation. During this time, a doctor advised him to adopt a plant-based diet plan, which led him to investigate the environmental impact of animal farming. As he delved deeper into the research topic, he became interested in climate science and the carbon footprint of plane travel, which accounts for over 2% of global emissions.

According to Todd Smith, a former pilot, and spokesperson for the Extinction Rebellion protest movement, the impact of air travel on the environment struck him as unjust, particularly considering that half of the sector’s emissions are generated by 1% of the entire world population. Smith attempted to share his insights with colleagues in the aviation industry but needed help finding support for his conflicting views.

Feeling helpless in the face of the scale of the challenge posed by climate change, Smith turned to research, studying the history of environmentalism, climate change, and social justice. He concluded that social activism and large movements are often the most effective means of bringing about significant societal change. This view is shared by Christina Figueres, the former UN climate chief who negotiated the Paris agreement, who has called for participation in non-violent political movements and said that civil disobedience is not only a moral choice but also the most powerful way of shaping world politics.

The former pilot, Todd Smith, joined the Extinction Rebellion protest movement and became a spokesperson for the organization. He has also formed Safe-Landing, a group of aviation workers who share his concerns about the industry’s climate impact and seek to challenge industry leaders to conform to climate science and reject dangerous “growth” to bring about change from within.

Smith believes the aviation industry must reduce air traffic to ensure a sustainable future. He says the industry cannot double air traffic every 15 years, as it has in the past. Smith is encouraging the aviation industry to try and reduce its risks because safety is the most important thing. While he misses flying, he is unwilling to return to the industry until it takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. He will continue to work for change through Safe-Landing and Extinction Rebellion group.

About the author