The Fog of Flight: Aviation Gases Up


That the airlines are having problems is not news. Everyone whose flown lately has their own horror story, and things–what with the meteoric rise in fuel prices–will only get worse.

But then again, maybe they’ll be getting better, at least in that with fewer flights there will be less jet fuel and CO2 pollution.

A “shock report” by the Aviation Environment Federation gives expected aviation CO2 emissions that “run the severe risk of overwhelming all CO2 reduction targets.” Your car in 2020 may be far more efficient and run on alternative fuels; the jet you take to see your sister won’t. And, of course, these huge amounts of jet fossil fuel are deposited directly into the upper atmosphere forming an instant greenhouse-gas haze.

“Aviation is a rogue sector and its environmental impact is out of control” said Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper.

With regard to the expected UK increase in jet traffic until 2050, a recent study states that “UK homes, firms and motorists will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero due to air travel growth” that so far, is not playing by the rules.

The underbelly of a jet in the image above is hardly uncommon, except for the fact that I grabbed this shot between our house and barn a few days ago. We’re close enough to ROA that approach altitude from the west has already been reached over Goose Creek. But you know, come to think of it, we’re not hearing or seeing as many of these planet-foggers here as we used to.

Smaller airports (like Roanoke) are tightening their belts, cutting flights, providing fewer and fewer connectors with the major airports–which, by the way, find your increasing missed connections to their advantage. Check out how well the airport concessioners are doing lately.

How Airlines Profit From Your Wait in Forbes 3 June 2008

More Aviation-CO2 links from Treehugger

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I was very cheered to read the other day that Obama is proposing a major investment in high-speed rail. He specificially cited the need to reduce CO2 emissions as one of the justifications.

  2. A provocative post. I used regularly to hop on a plane to Paris for a day trip telling myself that if I weren’t in the seat it would be empty which is, of course, a poor excuse for my indulgence.
    I’d be interested to read the statistics on exactly who is flying, and why. I suspect many are business trips that should, with modern technology, be unnecessary now, n’est-ce pas?