Would climate disaster make you give up or reduce air travel?

Runner_Guy

As every year, every season, every month sets a record for global temperatures, do you ever consider reducing (or giving up entirely) air travel?  

https://www.vox.com/business-and-finance/2019/8/7/20756833/climate-change-flying-calculator-arctic-ice


max_weisenfeld

Yes.  But decent inter-city trains would make me give it up sooner.


conandrob240

No. Giving up the joy and wonder of experiencing other countries and cultures doesn’t seem like a world worth living in anyway. There’s got to be more day-to-day things (commuting to work, corporate reform) that’d make more of an impact.


drummerboy

unless you can achieve a critical mass of people giving up air travel, which will never happen, giving up air travel does nothing but assuage personal guilt. (hell, air travel probably only contributes about 5% to GW anyway)

Personal choices are not the way to combat global warming.


mrincredible

High speed rail powered by renewable sources of electricity heavily subsidized by the federal government would help. I travel from Newark to a few spots up and down the Mid Atlantic a couple times a month. A flight to Richmond for instance takes about an hour and change but a train ride is about six hours. If I could get a train that was say 3 hours I would do it to avoid the nightmare that is Newark airport. 


drummerboy

mrincredible said:

High speed rail powered by renewable sources of electricity heavily subsidized by the federal government would help. I travel from Newark to a few spots up and down the Mid Atlantic a couple times a month. A flight to Richmond for instance takes about an hour and change but a train ride is about six hours. If I could get a train that was say 3 hours I would do it to avoid the nightmare that is Newark airport. 

 the forces of evil are against us

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblo...

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A reminder that giving money to universities with billion dollar endowments isn’t the worst thing plutocrats can do with their money:

By summer 2018, however, the plot to stop light rail in south Phoenix transformed into a plan to stop light rail in Phoenix, period. As they broadened their mission, light rail opponents using the new name Building a Better Phoenix also started receiving assistance from an Arizona nonprofit associated with oil barons Charles and David Koch.

The shadow of the billionaire brothers over Phoenix’s light rail debate would not come as a surprise to anyone who’s following transit policy in the United States. Notorious for bankrolling dark-money campaigns, the Koch brothers recently have thrown their weight behind efforts to stop public transportation projects across the country.

It really takes a special kind of evil to make stopping critical mass transit projects in cities where you don’t even live one of your top priroties.


Jackson_Fusion

No single drop of water believes it’s responsible for the flood.


Klinker

conandrob240 said:

No. Giving up the joy and wonder of experiencing other countries and cultures doesn’t seem like a world worth living in anyway. There’s got to be more day-to-day things (commuting to work, corporate reform) that’d make more of an impact.

 Of course its probably not you who's going to be asked to do the dying.  There's a frightening article in today's Times about the effects of climate change on our world's food supply. Hundreds of millions could face starvation (although probably not here in the US).

That said, I still fly and I am not sure that, on an individual basis, giving up flying is the solution to climate change.  All I am saying is perhaps we should be a little less glib about what makes life "worth living".  


Klinker

I've long thought that a huge percentage of business travel could be eliminated through video conferencing.  Sure, there would be a small diminishment of one on one interaction but, given the cost in terms of time, money and carbon, it would be well worth the change in societal expectations.


sac

Need more information on ALL of the significant contributors to GW in order to make this judgement.  As several noted above, if train options were to be increased/improved, many regional flights could be eliminated.  All of my travel is personal and most is longer distance, though, because I have friends and relatives all over the country plus a desire to visit other countries overseas.  I agree with reducing business travel via more use of conferencing technlogy, but the same is not as helpful for personal travel.


sprout

As someone who does not like to fly, I often suggest virtual conferencing alternatives for work-related meetings. I also prefer to attend conferences I can get to by train (Philly/Balt/DC/Boston) and prioritize these over conferences farther away.

One result I could see is the reduction in the "big conferences" if reducing flying becomes a thing. May impact enrollment, networking, presenters, spread of knowledge, etc.


Runner_Guy

conandrob240 said:

No. Giving up the joy and wonder of experiencing other countries and cultures doesn’t seem like a world worth living in anyway. There’s got to be more day-to-day things (commuting to work, corporate reform) that’d make more of an impact.

Taking an economy-class flight of any length, but even more so on a relatively short flight, has a much bigger carbon impact than how you commute to work unless you drive solo in a Chevy Suburban.  For instance, from NYC to LA produces 3300 pounds of CO2, which is more than a tenth of what the average American produces in a year.  So your "wonder" at seeing other countries comes at a pretty big expense to billions of people, living today and yet to be born.  

Also, there's a moral difference between traveling to work and flying, since travel to work is a practical necessity for an individual, whereas most flights are purely vacations.  On a global scale, several other major sources of CO2, like the Haber process, electricity generation, and cement production, are indisputable necessities.   

I am frustrated by the lack of collective action by individuals and governments on global warming, so I am not going to say I will never take a flight again, but only every 3-4 years and only when I buy carbon offsets.  


yahooyahoo

There are several sites where you can calculate your personal carbon footprint.  If you travel by plane with any regularity, it will be the largest contributor to your footprint.  

This is an interesting article if you want to learn more about air travel and carbon emissions.

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/1/11/18177118/airlines-climate-change-emissions-travel


Morganna

Yes. I stopped years ago.


drummerboy

Morganna said:

Yes. I stopped years ago.

 And look at all the good that's done us.


Morganna

drummerboy said:

 And look at all the good that's done us.

 Thanks to me, I have given everyone on MOL one extra day on the planet.  Now cancel that trip, hang your laundry on a clothesline and let's grow our own tomatoes. (The basilico is positively fragrant.)



HatsOff

My travel budget at work has been slashed to essentially nothing so work air travel is effectively gone. And I do not like to fly anyway so am ok with that.

But I write this from Europe where I have family we try to visit once a year. It really is good to spend time with them and would be hard to give it up completely. But I would definitely consider scaling back to every other year. Years ago we could not afford to go every year,

And years ago very few people could afford any air travel. They vacationed to places they could drive to. It is nice to go places but not exactly a requirement of life.


sac

Any chance aircraft technology could be improved in this regard, rather than guilting people into reducing travel?


mrincredible

Planes are getting more efficient. But if we could reduce some short-haul flights with more efficient ground transportation that might be a good incremental benefit.

I think I'll look at a train journey for my next trip to Charlottesville VA, for instance. As it is I have to spend a couple hours getting to the airport and through security, then more than half the time the flight is delayed. I know a few hundred more of me would have to make the same choice to take even one flight off the board.


ml1

High speed rail in the U.S., powered by clean electricity would be a wonderful thing and would reduce air travel tremendously. If you could board a train in NY and be in downtown Chicago in four hours, who would fly? The trip by car from O'Hare to downtown can be an hour by itself. 

That said, this discussion made me look up the % of greenhouse gasses produced by air travel and it's only about 2% worldwide and about 3% in the U.S. Even if we eliminated air travel completely, it would be a minor improvement if we didn't do anything significant about electricity generation and vehicle emissions. 


Jackson_Fusion

sac said:

Any chance aircraft technology could be improved in this regard, rather than guilting people into reducing travel?

 The 737 MAX was designed to provide fuel efficiency. From what I understand, the engines needed to be situated slightly forward relative to past designs, which engineers found would make the craft more prone to stalls- therefore, the much-spoken of software was added to push the nose down in stall situations, trading altitude for lift.

Sorry if I have that wrong, aeronautical engineers.

So yes that is a focus for aircraft designers. Trying to be “green” isn’t the reason those craft crashed. I bring it up just to illustrate that yes, it is a priority.


ml1

the 787 was also intended to be more fuel efficient


Runner_Guy

ml1 said:

High speed rail in the U.S., powered by clean electricity would be a wonderful thing and would reduce air travel tremendously. If you could board a train in NY and be in downtown Chicago in four hours, who would fly? The trip by car from O'Hare to downtown can be an hour by itself. 

That said, this discussion made me look up the % of greenhouse gasses produced by air travel and it's only about 2% worldwide and about 3% in the U.S. Even if we eliminated air travel completely, it would be a minor improvement if we didn't do anything significant about electricity generation and vehicle emissions. 

On a global scale, any individual's own air travel is inconsequential, but for an American individual himself or herself, air travel makes up an enormous share of that person's greenhouse gas emissions.

The average American produces 20-30 metric tons of CO2 or CO2-equivalent per year*, but an individual's share of CO2 emissions from a flight on a round-trip NYC-LA flight is 3 metric tons.  So, one cross-country visit will be at least a tenth of your own CO2 emissions for a year.

And if you compare your CO2 emissions from a cross-country flight, that might be equivalent to the entirety of someone's emissions in a low-income country.  

So, yeah, on a global scale, your CO2 emissions from a flight are trivial, but on an individual scale, they are quite large.  

If you actually care about global warming you already minimize your meat eating, already don't drive an SUV, and maybe even already have solar panel.  So for people who actually live environmental lifestyles, avoiding or eschewing air travel is the last frontier where they can do something in their own life to try to avoid the catastrophe that is coming.  


*(I see a range of estimates due to there being several different ways of measuring this.


jimmurphy

Runner_Guy said:

The average American produces 20-30 metric tons of CO2 or CO2-equivalent per year*, but an individual's share of CO2 emissions from a flight on a round-trip NYC-LA flight is 3 metric tons.  So, one cross-country visit will be at least a tenth of your own CO2 emissions for a year.

*(I see a range of estimates due to there being several different ways of measuring this.

Not doubting any of this, but please help me understand the science behind the "metric ton" unit in this regard.  Say there are 200 passengers and crew on a plane.  This hypothetical flight would release 600 metric tons of CO2. Surely there are not 600 metric tons of fuel on the plane at takeoff, right?  Conservation of mass, all that, but 600 tons of fuel can't be right. Is ton used in a different way? 


yahooyahoo

jimmurphy said:

Runner_Guy said:

The average American produces 20-30 metric tons of CO2 or CO2-equivalent per year*, but an individual's share of CO2 emissions from a flight on a round-trip NYC-LA flight is 3 metric tons.  So, one cross-country visit will be at least a tenth of your own CO2 emissions for a year.

*(I see a range of estimates due to there being several different ways of measuring this.

Not doubting any of this, but please help me understand the science behind the "metric ton" unit in this regard.  Say there are 200 passengers and crew on a plane.  This hypothetical flight would release 600 metric tons of CO2. Surely there are not 600 metric tons of fuel on the plane at takeoff, right?  Conservation of mass, all that, but 600 tons of fuel can't be right. Is ton used in a different way? 

First, Runner_Guy said it was a round trip.

Second, when the fuel is burned the carbon and hydrogen separate.  Hydrogen reacts with oxygen to form H2O and carbon reacts with oxygen to form CO2.  So a gallon of fuel will produce several times its weight in CO2.


yahooyahoo

https://paullaherty.com/2015/01/10/calculating-aircraft-co2-emissions/

How much carbon dioxide does an airplane create? Here’s the equation: 2 C8H18 + 25 O2 -> 16 CO2 +18 H20. Each gallon of JP8 – Kerosene – or jet fuel, weighs about 6.5 pounds. A gallon will combine with 23 pounds of Oxygen and generate twenty pounds of CO2. In practical terms wide-body flights on long haul routes will generate their take-off weight in Carbon Dioxide.


jimmurphy

yahooyahoo said:

https://paullaherty.com/2015/01/10/calculating-aircraft-co2-emissions/

How much carbon dioxide does an airplane create? Here’s the equation: 2 C8H18 + 25 O2 -> 16 CO2 +18 H20. Each gallon of JP8 – Kerosene – or jet fuel, weighs about 6.5 pounds. A gallon will combine with 23 pounds of Oxygen and generate twenty pounds of CO2. In practical terms wide-body flights on long haul routes will generate their take-off weight in Carbon Dioxide.

 Thanks.


tjohn

Jackson_Fusion said:

No single drop of water believes it’s responsible for the flood.

Best comment of the whole discussion.  Reducing carbon emissions is going to  take a contribution from all human beings.  Suppose all Americans ate just 4 ounces of red meat per week...



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