The question answers itself, doesn’t it? Giving up air travel and overnight delivery is much more personally costly for the public intellectuals who write about this stuff than giving up a big SUV. If you live in one of the five or six major cities that contain virtually everyone who writes about climate change, having a small car (or no car), is a pretty easy adjustment to imagine. On the other hand, try to imagine giving up far-flung vacations, conferences, etc. -- especially since travel to interesting locales is one of the hidden perks of not-very-well remunerated positions at universities, public policy groups, nongovernmental organizations, and yes, news organizations.But I tend to credit it as having at least a little bit of truth. It would personally cause me a great deal of grief if it were to become a social norm, given how far away from my family that I live. But it is true that air travel is a very tough source of carbon emissions to remove, given the need for high energy density fuel.
But I think that this fits in well with how nice it would be to improve train travel, which is a very carbon-friendly mode of transportation.