Transport is Good

It seems to be a commonly held contemporary belief that transport and travel are a guilty pleasure at best, and reprehensible at worst, mainly due to the unpleasant environmental side-effects, and should be minimised. Environmentalists have already invented carbon offsetting to assuage collective and individual guilt about the trendy problem of carbon emissions (Tim Harford has explained why this makes no sense; and I think it’s nothing short of miraculous how carbon offsetting services can put a price on emissions so easily).

However, the upside is often overlooked. Travel is pleasurable. Some of the best experiences in my life have involved travelling, and I’m far from the only one. Quality of life does have value. Perhaps even more importantly, transport enables you to get stuff more cheaply. Trade is mostly beneficial, and the wider the scope of a market, the more beneficial it is (because of the greater likelihood that you’ll find large extremes of want and produce a large profit). Fast, cheap, reliable transport increases the efficiency of markets and is good for humankind.

Don’t feel bad next time you hop on a jet, and please don’t waste your money on offsetting carbon. Recycling is a whole ‘nother story.


How in the world can travel be a guilty pleasure? You travel and you re leave stress? And you get to learn about other people's cultures!