"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Friday, October 5, 2007

Airline Mag: Green Edition

Hi, y'all, from beautiful Montreal (that's in Southern Canada, you understand), where it is unseasonably warm and sunny today. The trees seem a bit paler and less spectacular than usual this autumn, too... hmm....

I'm a bit out of the loop this week, what with the excitement of launching Correlations (come on over and give me some grief...) and visiting with family. So my main report for this week is that there's so much global warming in the press right now (I don't usually look at newsstands except when I'm stuck in an airport) that my head spins. I may have more to say soon, but for now I'll report that even the American Airlines in-flight magazine is featuring a green issue and an article about green guilt.

It was interesting how the author (Mark Henricks, a fellow Austinite feller) went on about light bulbs and such (not to mention bamboo flooring and recycled plastic bathmats) and nevertheless managed to shrug off the environmental impact of aviation with an unchallenged quote.
But air travel probably gets more attention than it deserves, says Arnold. While flying does have an impact, especially with regard to carbon emissions, it does not have nearly the negative effect that other carbon contributors do. For instance, he considers coal-fi red electricity-generating plants a much more serious problem. “Aviation is a minor part,” Arnold says. “For certain travelers, it’s an issue, but globally, it’s only about 2 percent of the problem.”
Right, but, um, aren't those 'certain travelers' the ones who use airplanes?

In fact, George Monbiot has pointed out that aviation is the only part of modern life where no non-GHG intensive substitute was foreseeable. I can't find that right now but a typical anti-aviation rant of his is here. It's not easy to shoot this down, unfortunately. I much prefer to drive or Amtrak even as far as Chicago, but Montreal-Austin is quite a shlep and I see no escape from making this particular type of journey twice a year anytime soon.

So it was weird reading an article actually entitled "green guilt" on an in flight magazine on an airplane, which pretty much told me to feel guilty about bathmats and not about flying.


David B. Benson said...

Well, the world's airlines are considered to contribute about 2.2% of the problem.

However, coalfield fires are estimated to contribute almost twice that. Mobilising some serious effort to rapidly extinguish coalfield fires would end up permanently eliminating over 300 million tonnes of carbon being added to the active carbon cycle each year.

Anonymous said...

I've looked at UK plans to add 3rd runway at Heathrow, knocking out 600 homes (just North) to do so by 2020 or 2025.

However, I think Peak Oil & $200/barrel oil will stop air travel growth sometime between 2010 and 2020, i.e., no more airplanes that are really busses with wings.

Gareth said...

The airlines and plane builders are working hard at this. There will almost certainly be some sort of offset/emissions trading scheme, plus there are hopes for biofuels of various kinds - including GE bugs to make avgas. I've blogged a bit about this on Hot Topic in the climate business category (it'll be easier to find when I get round to adding tags...).

Anonymous said...

Here's the Monbiot article you're after:


also, here's the one you link to with its references:


Just for completeness (I wish the Grauniad would post references where supplied).