I can't remember what blog I was reading the other day, but someone in the comments had mentioned that they considered air travel to be something that they weren't willing to give up mostly because they felt that what they got out of the experience was worth the carbon consumption, or something like it. In other words, they felt that some of the pristine scenes or natural sights weren't going to be around for much longer, so they should go see them while they could.
And this struck something in me - the question of, do we as affluent Americans have the right to pleasure travel the globe, catching the last of the sights and sounds before the environment changes, all the while contributing to that decline? And what does that mean for the billions of people who can't even travel outside of their region, let alone afford to get on a plane, these same billions who are the ones most adversely affected by climate change? What rights do they have? As an example, with one round-trip flight to Europe (with 3-4 tons of CO2 emissions) you will have caused more emissions than 20 Bangladeshi will cause in a whole year. Unfortunately they are the ones who will lose their homes and livelihood once sea level rise inundates their low lying country. 
To put things in perspective, aviation presently accounts for 4 to 9% of the total climate change impact of human activity. And, instead of the amount going down, as it should be to mitigate climate change, since 1990, CO2 emissions from international aviation have increased 83%.  Not all of this is due to pleasure travel, but it does represent a huge chunk of climate change, such that all the carbon trading / tree planting you do to offset the impact really won't make up for it.
So, I wanted to ask you guys how you felt. Do you think air travel for tourism sake is selfish? Can't we all get by seeing the world the way people have always done so, through the experience of a few through travelogues, pictures and, more recently, film and documentaries? Must we all see it first-hand? Is the argument that travelling makes one more aware of worldly problems a sufficient one to make up for the impact or is really just a justification for self-satisfaction and consumption?