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Travel really does broaden the mind, but how do we square that with the harm it does to the environment?


We’ve just come back from Iceland and we have seen such beauty.  Waterfalls, lava fields, fjords, geysers and geothermal pools.

We have also seen glaciers melting. One calved when we were there.  Calving is when an iceberg splits and breaks off.  It sounded like thunder and those of who were standing near to the shore moved back, as the calving caused a wave which headed towards the shore.

For us the wave was not catastrophic, just a wave on an otherwise still lagoon filled with huge blue rocks of ice melting from the glaciers.

Glaciers which used to connect, but now have retreated up their own mountains.  Glaciers which once melted will never freeze again.  Glaciers, which as we saw, make sea levels rise.

For us it was fun, the kids jumped on and off mini-icebergs at the shore edge and sucked on clear ice never before released from its prehistoric rest.

It was mind-blowingly awe-inspiring. Like nothing I have ever seen before and yet there is a tension for me, some cognitive dissonance which causes me discomfort.

We were watching global warming and finding it beautiful.

Global warming

And worse than that, we had contributed to global warming by flying to Iceland.

We did coach tours, stayed at an Airbnb, used public transport, shops and cafes and so we contributed to the local economy which used to make most of its money from whaling and fishing.  We tried to do it as greenly as possible, but still we flew.

We know the eco-system is in an escalating crisis with the artic on fire and our plastics polluting the land and seas.

“One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.” ― Soren Kierkegaard

I don’t go looking for paradoxes and yet this summer have felt them close at hand.

My eco-head says to me, ‘Don’t travel. Don’t fly. You are contributing to global warming to such a huge extent when you fly that all your Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Recover, Dispose is petty middle glass do-gooding which obfuscates your disregard for the climate every time you fly.’

Greta is travelling by sea and train.  It takes a long time to do that and we only have the school holidays.

Why travel?

Why travel at all? Why not just stay at home and grow our own veg?

I should, I know, but travelling is in my blood on both sides, we’re a mixed race lot in my gene pool.

Plus I have kids and I want to travel with them for so many reasons:

So they understand how beautiful and wide this world is so they want to be part of the generation who solves some of the environmental issues we face, so that they want to be part of the solution to the problems previous generations have caused

So they meet different people who do things different ways so they develop understanding and tolerance and the ability to mix with all people in this increasingly globalised world.

So they learn more about the environment.  We did coach tours where earthquakes and volcanoes and glaciers were not just lessons in a classroom but places we went, things we experienced.

So that they are not scared to step out of their small, local lives, to live bigger, wider, freer lives where they know how to find their way around and make themselves at home respectfully wherever they are.

So that they feel like they live in a whole world, not just in our small village because if they understand that viscerally, then it becomes harder to be blasé about ‘them over there’, and their floods, famines, de-forestation when we know how small the world is.

Because the world needs problem solvers, communicators, risk takers. It needs people who can create connections between countries and continents, between different peoples with different needs.  The world needs people who care about the world and feel connected to the environment, who feel that it is something worth saving. We need people who care enough about the world to want it to be a sustainable home for everyone, not just the rich few.

But still we flew.

I can not square the circle.

How do you deal with it?

I must live with the discomfort.

‘The paradox is tension that exists in my soul’ Paulo Coelho



My other paradox was about taking photos…

You can find out more about my blogs, books and coaching services here and can download the opening chapters of Love Being Me for free.

Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Coach, author, podcaster, facilitator, Yoga and psychology teacher, learner

I have over 30 years of experience and qualification in various therapeutic and meditation/mindfulness based approaches. I work with change. Some changes we chose, others happen to us.  Sometimes we know we want to change but don't know how. Sometimes we don't want to change but external events or people are forcing us to change. The menopause, children leaving home, the end of a relationship or job, becoming a parent, coming out, bereavement are just some of the personal changes I support people with. I also work with people who want to make changes to their life and wider world in response to social issues such as Covid, the climate crisis and racial, sexual and gender inequalities. Times are changing whether we want them to or not and we need to be nimble, agile, curious and open in order to part of the new story emerging. Work with me to get clear on what matters to you, what makes your heart sing and what kind of future you want for yourself and those you love. It is possible to live differently, get in touch to explore how.

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