Travel To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel

19:46  10 january  2018
19:46  10 january  2018 Source:   dw.com

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Though air travel is more popular than ever, the vast majority of people in the world have never been on a plane. As that dynamic slowly changes, the When was the last time you traveled by plane? As little as three percent of the global population flew in 2017, and at most, only about 18 percent have

The arrival of air travel has made it easy for people to travel to far off lands within a short period of Cost . You will be required to pay more for the speed and ease of flying . Airplanes cause some major environmental effects like the carbon dioxide that is emitted from jet fuel which pollutes the.

plain© picture-alliance/dpa/F. Rumpenhorst plain Though air travel is more popular than ever, the vast majority of people in the world have never been on a plane. As that dynamic slowly changes, the environment stands to suffer. Is flying less the only solution?

When was the last time you traveled by plane? As little as three percent of the global population flew in 2017, and at most, only about 18 percent have ever done so. But things are changing.

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According to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimates, there were 3.7 billion global air passengers in 2016 — and every year since 2009 has been a new record-breaker.

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Read more: To fly or not to fly : The environmental cost of air travel . Working out how much carbon dioxide is released by burning kerosene is pretty straightforward. But there's a complication: Jet engines release other environmentally -damaging substances too — often at high altitude — and scientists

Flying nonstop can help, too: The more times you take off, the more fuel you use. According to a 2010 report from NASA, about 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. That includes taxiing, which is the largest source of emissions in the landing-takeoff cycle.

By 2035, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts a rise to 7.2 billion. Like the planes themselves, the numbers just keep going up. And given the damage flying does to the planet, that is food for thought.

Not just the CO2

Many estimates put aviation's share of global CO2 emissions at just above two percent. That's the figure the industry itself generally accepts.

But according to Stefan Gössling, a professor at Sweden's Lund and Linnaeus universities and co-editor of the book Climate Change and Aviation: Issues, Challenges and Solutions, "That's only half the truth."

Other aviation emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), water vapor, particulates, contrails and cirrus changes have additional warming effects.

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to fly or not to fly the environmental cost air travel . How it works: 1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account. 2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use). 3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.

The environmental impact of aviation occurs because aircraft engines emit heat, noise, particulates There is an ongoing debate about possible taxation of air travel and the inclusion of aviation in an emissions trading scheme, with a view to ensuring that the total external costs of aviation are taken

"The sector makes a contribution to global warming that is at least twice the effect of CO2 alone," Gössling told DW, settling on an overall contribution of five percent "at minimum."

But IATA spokesperson Chris Goater told DW the science behind this so-called 'radiative forcing' is "unproven".

Even if we accept the two percent emissions figure as final, if only three percent of the world's population flew last year, that relatively small group still accounted for a disproportionate chunk of global emissions.

A few years ago, environmental group Germanwatch estimated that a single person taking one roundtrip flight from Germany to the Caribbean produces the same amount of damaging emissions as 80 average residents of Tanzania do in an entire year: around four metric tons of CO2.

"On an individual level, there is no other human activity that emits as much over such a short period of time as aviation, because it is so energy-intensive," Gössling explains.

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The environmental cost of air travel has been regularly discussed over the years. With global warming and climate change now being top of mind Of course one way to reduce the environmental cost of flying is not to fly . And some environmental groups continue to suggest just that approach.

The WWF carbon footprint calculator is instructive in this regard. Even a serious environmentalist who eats vegan, heats using solar power and rides a bike to work, but who still take the occassional flight, wouldn't look very green at all.

Just two hypothetical short-haul return flights and one long-haul round-trip in a given year would outweigh otherwise exemplary behavior.

New tech can't solve everything

As awareness of the need to reduce our individual and collective carbon footprints in order to prevent climate catastrophe grows, several industries have come under sustained pressure to find clean solutions.

The aviation sector made its own promises — in October 2016, 191 nations agreed a UN accord which aims to cut global aviation carbon emissions to 2020 levels by 2035. Another ambitious target of that agreement is for the aviation industry to achieve a 50 percent carbon emission reduction by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

Goater says there are four ways in which the aviation industry intends to achieve these things: through carbon offsetting in the short-term, the continued development of more efficient planes, deeper investment in sustainable fuels — such as biofuels — and through better route efficiency.

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Government advisory body on climate change says ticket prices should rise to ensure emissions fall to 2005 levels.

With travel by train getting very expensive in some places, and not an option in others, vacations are being organized ever more over hectic, crowded flights. Environmentally friendly air travel ? Electric planes of the future. To fly or not to fly ? The environmental cost of air travel 10.01.2018.

"Basically air traffic control is very inefficient," he explains. "It creates unnecessary fuel burns and more efficient use would create a 10 percent reduction in emissions."

He also highlights the fact that a number - albeit very few - of commercial flights are now powered with sustainable fuels every day, despite the fact that the first such flight took off less than a decade ago.

"That was something that happened much faster than anyone was expecting," he says. The key now, in his view, is for the industry to prioritise investment in the area and for governments to commit in the same way they have to e-mobility in the automobile sector.

But Gössling and many of his peers remain unconvinced.

"I think that essentially we need price hikes," he says. "We did interviews with industry leaders a few months ago and many of them agreed, secretly — they were anonymous interviews — that if we don't have a major price hike for fossil fuels, then there is no way alternative fuels could ever make it."

Daniel Mittler, political director of environmental NGO Greenpeace, agrees that fossil fuels need to be more expensive. "The first step is to end all fossil fuel subsidies, including those going to aviation and to properly tax the aviation industry," he told DW.

For Goater, that is not realistic. "Fuel is already a significant proportion of an airline's costs," he says. "Believe me, if we could fly without oil we would."

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Even bunnies accustomed to car travel will find flying weird and scary. Rabbits commonly show stress by getting diarrhea, by becoming withdrawn or Five years later when we moved half way across the country, Holly was more used to traveling and seemed to handle the air portion of the trip better

Hotter air is thinner air , which makes it more difficult — and sometimes impossible — for planes to “In a world where they’re focused on near-term issues, the glacial rate of environmental change is not Mr. Feinstein of American Airlines referred questions about the effect of climate change on flying to

The hard truth?

So what's to be done? Gössling, who has devoted more than 20 years of research to the subject, sees only one solution.

"Do we really need to fly as much as we do, or is the amount we fly induced by the industry?" he asks. In addition to artificially low airplane ticket prices, the industry also promotes a lifestyle, he argues.

"Airline campaigns project an image where you can become part of a group of people who are young, urban frequent flyers, visiting another city every few weeks for very low costs," he says.

Yet for Goater, the idea of dictating who can fly and when is as unrealistic as it is outdated.

"Reducing emissions needs to be balanced with allowing people the opportunity to fly — I believe that's a settled consensus amongst the mainstream for many years," he says. "It's not up to people in one part of the world to take it on themselves to deny people in other parts of the world those opportunities."

For Mittler, it comes down to individual choice as much as anything else and he believes that while efficiency gains are vital, the first step is to reduce the amount we fly.

"We need to move towards a more sharing and caring way of living on this planet," he says, adding that doing without the weekend shop in New York might be one of the least painful ways of contributing to that.

"We need a prosperity that is based on community and based on real wealth of collective vision, rather than one that is based on relentless consumption. Aviation is a symbol of the kind of consumption that we need to leave behind."

Author: Arthur Sullivan

Climate Change Could Make Air Travel Even Worse .
Rising seas, increased storms, and other effects from climate change will take a toll on your travel plans.Heat waves and rising temperatures cause the air to thin , which makes it harder for planes to generate enough lift during takeoff. Scientists predicted in the journal Climatic Change that between 10 to 30 percent of flights scheduled during the hottest time of the year will require weight restrictions. Short runways - like those at New York's LaGuardia Airport - will be especially vulnerable.

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