I plan to use this site to post news, commentary, and analysis of current environment and development issues. Of course, I reserve the right to rant about politics now and then.
I was talking about this to a friend of mine, who brought up the image of our grandchildren believing that we used to 'fly like birds'. I thought that the image was touching; and I can picture it happening. One way that I think people would be able to avoid hipocracy and feel morally justified with their flights would be to "neutralize their carbon emissions." This is a new idea that is becoming better known, lately. One great website that I found is called "easybeinggreen.com". This Australia-based organization takes the money that has been given to neutralize carbon emissions, and uses it toward energy-saving technologies. For each $20 donation, they guarantee to reduce pollution by one ton.
It will be interesting to see how airlines attempt to develop fuel alternatives. The airline industry is already struggling with extremely high costs, and this makes it seem as though costs will sky-rocket further in the future.
To be honest, I had not thought much about the recent boost in low cost airlines. After spending a semester abroad in Ireland (and Island!) last spring, I did my far share of puddle jumping - taking around 5 or six round trip flights in 7 weekends. Since our generation has grown up with the emergence of low - cost airlines I didn't realize the growing externalities that coincide with the convenience of these airlines. However, carbon trading, which is being talked about more and more, is one way in which airlines can curb emissions. I also thought the idea of towing planes into gates rather than self-taxiing is a clever idea. Nonetheless, this is clearly an issue that must be addressed.
If airline travel drives approximately 9% of global GDP while only creating 3% of CO2 emissions, why stop it? It's not that I don't believe that CO2 emissions need to be cut back, but why not curtail them in a sector that does not play such a prominent role in our lives, such as electricity generation? I realize that electricity is important, but I believe that in time, alternative energies will replace many of our fossil fuel based sources of energy. Also, I would be willing to bet that substantially more than 3% of CO2 emissions are related to electricity generation.It is hard to imagine a world will significantly less air travel, because like the article points out, there is no real alternative to it.-Andrew Sims
If the price of a plane ticket really does increase significantly, the alternative transportation for travelling domestically would most likely be driving. Until another source of energy to fuel cars becomes prominent, emissions will increase from automobiles. Also international travel would come almost to a hault. Only very big firms could continue conducting business overseas. Small firms will have to resort to the internet and phone for communication, which is much less effective when trying to compromise and work something out. I think the United States would be at a great disadvantage without the use of cheap airfare. Countries in Europe have many modes of fast transportation from country to country while the United States relies mainly on flying. Thirty years is not far away. Surely we will not find another, easier way to cross the atlantic in that amount of time. What will become of the enormous airports when they no longer have to accomodate so many people. Are the huge additions and renovations many smaller airports are undergoing useless?
Maybe I"m being naive... (it wouldn't be the first time). But, I really think that the future is going to involve alot of "slowing down" and remembering the important things in life. Look at the huge growth of organic food, in the coop. Or, if you google "slow food" on the internet, you will learn about a movement to contradict "fast food". Although people need to spend more money and time, they are willing to do it because they now consider the other benefits associated with the change. Maybe in the future, people will remember the great adventures that come from time-consuming travel. So much of the time, the adventures come from getting somewhere, not actually being there. My program abroad was called "sustainability and the environment." For the past 7 years, my professor tried to convince the international university that it was hypocritical to emit so much CO2(flying the students around), in order to teach them about sustainability. This semester is the first term that they substituted the flights during the program for a train ride and a boatride. I think that people are starting to understand.
I agree with Tom's point (and the article's) that it will be interesting to see what comes of this in the future since there is no alternative for flying. I think airlines are already suffering so many costs that it is hard for them to spend money on research and development of alternatives to fuel. I'm not sure how airlines will deal with this, but it would be my guess that they won't deal with it well. I think Sarah brings up a good point about "slow food" and enjoying traveling. Although I am not as optimistic about people wanting to spend time traveling. I think our society has become so fast paced than it will be a struggle to try to slow these people down. Also, think about how many people that fly often are flying for business. They certainly will not want to slow down and get there leisurely. But then again, maybe the way that people do business will change. Maybe there will be a new technology that alleviates the need to visit clients, etc. Maybe its already here with digital videos that can stream on the internet live. So I agree that some people will realize the joy in just "getting there" but I think many will still need the most immediate form of travel.
If there is a SUSTAINABLE solution to this problem it is investing more today in alternative fuel research. Cutting back on the advantages provided by airfare wont do anything to solve the problem but make the industry less profitable and less likely to invest. Adolfo
from the article=>John Meenan, executive vice president of the Air Transport Association of America: "It's a matter of making the investment to make that happen"This particular point seems to resonate through every issue we discuss. For the big picture... what needs to happen for action to be taken? Seems to me that essentially all developed countries and their respective industry sectors have climate considerations in mind but for now they're merely talking about it. (obviously some have progressed more than others)As far as the airline industry... People are going to fly - especially here in the US. People travel, a lot. Imagine the uproar as Elizabeth noted. Personally, I hate air travel but sometimes there's no other option. And there will be no other option for quite some time. Sarah your idea of life in general slowing down is agreeable and frankly that'd be great. However, I would say the overall consensus in the developed world is that things are only getting faster...
I found an interesting potential solution. A company is producing airplanes that run on sugar cane....now if only we can lower that tax on Brazilian imported sugar.http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/aeroalcool_flyi.phphttp://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/aeroalcool_flyi.php
Generalization of the use of the air transportation is a custom of the developed world. But who goes to lose with the cuts will be the developing conutries, as it says the article, therefore these is dependents of the tourism. So I think that the better solution is the investiment in researches about alternative fuels.
The article says planes are only responsible for only 12 percent of CO2 emissions while cars are responsible for over 60 percent including heavier trucks. The amount of pressure on the auto industry is just now affecting its production types. I think a lot of improvements are going to be needed from autos and other industries before the focus really shifts to airlines.
Like Adolfo said, the main thing to focus on right now is alternative/renewable energy resources. Whether people continue to fly or decide to switch to land transportation, the effect on the environment is on net probably close to the same. If renewable energy sources can be developed (to work in planes and cars), that would seem to be a much more realistic/effective solution.. at least until we develop the technology to teleport...(it's gotta happen sometime...)!-Martha
We take air travel for granted so much these days but it obvious does have huge effects on the environment. It will be interesting to see how we adapt air travel in the future
Does this tax just pertain to commercial flying or does it include taxing planes that are for shipping packages as well. I am not really sure how much people trade or send packages by plane in the global economy, but if it is a major player, then this tax could have significant impact on the economy. If people have to wait to get certain goods or services because they do not want to send it by plane, then the economy will slow down and become less efficient. Transportation is a major reason why economies are so efficient. If policies are taken to curtail flying planes, it will probably have a significant impact on how efficient and productive economies are. I agree with Tom's comment that people should focus on reducing emissions in other areas where alternative energies and technologies are more feasible to complete this task. Taxing air travel seems a little harsh when there are other options out there that would seem more reasonable and productive.
Post a Comment