When thinking about how to reduce or eliminate our carbon footprint, what often comes to mind is cutting back on driving or doing more recycling. But research from a new Swedish website called Shame Plane has us also looking to the skies to save Arctic ice.
Shame Plane is an independent project “spawned from pure personal curiosity” in 2019. It calculates how much Arctic ice will melt as a result of your next plane trip. The site lets you choose how you’ll be flying — first class, business, economy and/or roundtrip — and your starting location and ending destination. For example, a first class roundtrip flight from Copenhagen to California will, according to the site, melt approximately 24.6 square meters of Arctic ice (that’s just .0000095 in square miles, but it’s true, it adds up.) The potential loss of ice decreases if you fly business or economy.
Of course, Shame Plane doesn’t just leave you crying in a pile of facts, doom and gloom. The site shows you choices — going vegetarian, recycling, using LED lightbulbs, reusable shopping bags and more — and how they compare with the emissions from the flight. The numbers provided presume you’ll keep those sustainable habits for a year.
Victor Müller, one of the minds behind Shame Plane, said the site was born out of anxiety he felt about the state of climate change.
“Shame Plane was a way to turn personal anxiety into work anxiety so we could frame it in processes and methodologies easier to cope with,” Müller said in an email.
Müller said he was surprised at the attention the site has received and he hopes it’ll make people think. He said he and his team have started making the changes the website suggests to build a more sustainable future.
“I think that is why Shame Plane really hurts, giving up commercial flying is really hard to imagine, even if it’s only been around for a few generations. I can’t promise that I will never fly again but I think it’s going to be way less than before,” Müller said.
Shame Plane isn’t the first website to attempt to raise awareness about climate change. Earlier this year, two US researchers from the University of Maryland created a web app that shows what 540 cities in North America will feel like in 60 years if climate change continues its progression. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, natural historian David Attenborough and others have been outspoken about the state of the planet. In addition, scholars and tech giants are teaming up to tackle climate change.