Monday, 28 July 2014

Speaking at SXSW Eco in Austin, 6-8 Oct. 2014

I’ve accepted an invitation to speak at the South By Southwest Eco conference on sustainability in Austin, TX, 6-8 October 2014:

“Peak Travel” : Envisioning the Post-Air Travel Age

The aviation industry hopes to obtain enough cheap biofuel to sustain air travel without diverting land, water, or labor from food production. But what if that proves impossible?

One doesn’t have to predict a doomsday scenario of global warming to imagine a future of dramatically more expensive (and/or rationed or taxed) air travel.

What disruptions would that bring to patterns of travel and development? Travel is intertwined with every sector of the economy. How would trade and development maps be redrawn by changes in travel modes and speeds? What people, places, and investments would stand to win or lose? How can we prepare for this possible future?

Will we see a resurgence of passenger shipping, for example, and what would that mean? Will both vacations and business trips become longer in duration? How will slower travel affect the travel experience and the travel industry? These are only a few of the key questions to be explored in this brief exercise in travel futurism.

More details to come. I’m excited to be a part of this SXSW event, and hope to see some of you there.

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:24 ( 4:24 PM)

Congratulations on tackling such an important topic. We often forget the impact of aviation on our 'responsible tourism' jaunts around the globe.

I wish I were a thousand miles closer -- Austin used to be home -- so I could attend in person. Any chance the session will be available via livestream video?

Posted by: Ron Mader, 26 September 2014, 22:31 (10:31 PM)


The airline industry claims to have a plan for fossil fuel replacements that they are building their future plans around. There does appear to be some technologies that could be used. However, they appear to be no closer to commercial viability than fusion reactors for the electricity industry. Alternative fuels will become more commercially viable as the price of fossil fuels rises. The problem facing the industry is being able to scale up to the production within the land and other constraints you highlight in your post. I will be interested to learn the aviation industry's update on progress away from fossil fuels.

I too would like to see livestream video.

I'd like to see an expansion of the world's rail network. Rail travel somehow gives us a more real measure of distance travelled as we observe the places between our departure point and destination. It is an altogether more civilised mode of transport.

Passenger shipping needs a radical rethink to have a place in the future. There will be a need for lighter ships and more densely populated ships than the present generation. Shipping has major potential in exploiting low carbon energy sources and some ships might even return to wind power.

Business and leisure travel existed before the invention of the aircraft. It worked then, and with our technological advances over the last 100 years will continue to thrive, but we will not travel in the same manner as today.

Posted by: John Williams (@eurapart), 29 September 2014, 07:45 ( 7:45 AM)

More on this issue in a later article here in my blog:

And in a discussion of that article at Outbounding:

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 30 September 2014, 16:54 ( 4:54 PM)

"Explore Sustainable Travel at SXSW Eco" (overview of all travel-related sessions at SXSW Eco 2014):

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 5 October 2014, 15:17 ( 3:17 PM)

"Boeing investing in UAE effort as detractors warn of 'peak travel': At SXSW Eco this week, Boeing butted heads with activists concerned about aviation"s contribution to climate change" (by Greg Harman, The Guardian, 8 October 2014):

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 9 October 2014, 07:44 ( 7:44 AM)

Text of my talk at SXSW Eco:

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 6 November 2014, 11:33 (11:33 AM)
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