Tuesday, August 02, 2005

fly the friendly skies

Triple Pundit had two articles about air travel today. These were of particular interest to me because I fly across the US at least twice a year, and from doing my "ecological footprint" quizzes (see the sidebar) I discovered that these flights used a lot of oil and produced a lot of carbon.

I am still trying to reconcile the two views. One said:

According to The Australian, a jet aircraft flying from London to Hong Kong puts out an astonishing 2.76 tons of carbon dioxide - per passenger. That's not trivial. Interestingly, it's not the airlines that are bearing the brunt of criticism for this quantity of emissions. Rather, it's business travelers. When a firm is audited for its climate footprint, business travel ranks as one of the most important sources of greenhouse gas emissions. HSBC alone accounted for 96,000 tons in 2004. Typically, rather than curbing travel, firms have turned to carbon offsetting schemes to try to account for the effects of their emissions.
While the other posited:

According to the FAA, including idling and taxiing, an airplane gets about 48 miles to the gallon per seat. That's a heck of a lot better than I'd thought, though it obviously depends on a myriad of other factors: Long flights are more efficient, newer planes are better. But a rule of thumb suggests that traveling solo in an SUV is probably more harmful in terms of emissions than buying a plane ticket, but carpooling, even in an SUV, is probably better then flying.
Aster, the author of the above entry, found this article about aircraft emissions that claimed:

Jet fuel and gasoline for cars create about the same amount CO2 emissions per gallon (around 20 lbs per gallon). Cars have fuel efficiencies anywhere between 10 mpg (a large SUV) to 60 mpg (a hybrid engine car like the Honda Insight). That means, if you travel alone in your SUV, you'll create more emissions than if you had taken an airplane. If you drive to your destination with your whole family in your small Honda, the emissions per person will be much lower than if your whole family had taken the plane.
I suppose if I were REALLY being good I could follow the example of the EcoNomads, who don't ride in anything unless the vehicle was already going there. They have a wonderful website that chronicles their travel from Palestine, across Europe and through the USA. It is a fascinating look into the green intentional commuities they encountered on their way.

When it came time to cross the Atlantic, they took an "un-economadic" cruise ship rather than fly. They got a cheap rate as the boat was switching from summer to winter waters and wasn't making any stops along the way.

They complain about the evils of air travel and quoted the same statistics from the previous article, except theirs had footnotes.

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