The most frequent flyer on earth, Tom Stuker, when asked about his environmental impact said: “I’m not adding to the footprint. The plane is going to fly whether I’m on it or not”. This argument is as dumb as other dumb arguments like:

  • “If he can do it, I can do it.”
  • “Whatever harm I do is just a drop in the ocean, so it doesn’t matter.”
  • “Other people do much more harm than me.”
  • “You can’t tell me what to do, I can do what I like.”
  • “It’s not against the law!”

All these arguments are disingenuous. On the face of it, they sound reasonable enough but on further scrutiny, they are just self-deceit.

If he can do it, I can do it

Two wrongs don’t make a right. It is irresponsible to do any sort of harm, even when, or especially when, others are doing the same thing.

Whatever harm I do is just a drop in the ocean, so it doesn’t matter

This deceit is one of the most insidious because it is half true. The harm that an individual does certainly is a small drop in the ocean of harm being done by everyone. However, it is immoral to do something you know is wrong no matter the amount.

Other people do much more harm than me

This rationale is similar to the previous two but because it is trying to make this person look better than others it is even more reprehensible. Being less bad is still bad.

You can’t tell me what to do, I can do what I like

This childish riposte couldn’t be any more irresponsible. It’s like a petulant teenager kicking against parental authority. The fact is, nobody can do whatever they like if it causes any sort of harm. You CAN be told what to do, not only do we have laws that stop certain harmful behaviours there is also a moral compass telling us what is right and what is wrong.

It’s not against the law!

The implication is that they are doing nothing wrong. You don’t have to have a law to say something is wrong. It’s not against the law to sleep with your best friend’s husband, but is it right? No!

Dumb arguments

The ‘Tom Suker paradox’ is that if everyone thinks like him (i.e the plane will fly with or without him) he is right but if everyone doesn’t think like him he will be wrong because the plane won’t fly with or without him because it won’t be flying at all.

Read more about Fairer Flying and a Frequent Flyer Levy.