The Globe and Mail reports in its Tuesday edition that jetting off to do research and attend conferences has become ingrained in the culture of academia. The Globe's Joe Friesen writes that speaking in glamorous capitals like London or Berlin expands their networks and burnishes their reputations.
However, anxiety about the environmental impact of air travel has reached a tipping point, leading academics around the world to call for a rethink. Professors are already conscious that their research must withstand ethical scrutiny and flying presents a further challenge.
In modern postsecondary institutions, where warnings about the danger of climate change are commonplace, academics are wary of being accused of hypocrisy. They are wrestling with the "flier's dilemma": Do the personal benefits of air travel outweigh its cost to the climate?
"Flying has been central to who I am and what I do," said Jaymie Heilman, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Alberta.
Last summer, the smoke from forest fires was so bad in Edmonton that she and her family had to stay indoors. It made her re-examine her choices. At Concordia University, the entire geography department recently adopted a flying-less policy.
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