May 29, 2005

WING CLIPPING:

Revealed: The real cost of air travel (Michael McCarthy, Marie Woolf and Michael Harrison, 28 May 2005, Independent uk)

It might be cheap, but it's going to cost the earth. The cut-price airline ticket is fuelling a boom that will make countering global warming impossible.

The tens of thousands of Britons jetting off on cheap flights this weekend have been given graphic reminders by leading green groups that the huge surge in mass air travel is becoming one of the biggest causes of climate change.

Unless the boom in cheap flights is halted, say Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, Britain and other countries will simply not be able to meet targets for cutting back on the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are causing the atmosphere to warm, with potentially disastrous consequences. In spelling out what is for most people - and for many politicians - a very uncomfortable truth, they are echoing the warnings of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The scientists of the former and the MPs of the latter have set out in detail how the soaring growth in CO2 emissions from aircraft that the cheap flights bonanza is promoting will do terrible damage to the atmosphere and make a nonsense of global warming targets, such as Britain's stated aim of cutting CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. [...]

Blake Lee-Harwood, campaigns director for Greenpeace, said: [...] "The only way to stop the problem is to reduce our flying. We just have to accept public transport and highly efficient cars are the only kinds of routine transport we can sensibly use, and air travel is just for special occasions. We may not like that hard truth but we don't have a choice." The green groups feel the only solution is to cut back on demand by forcing prices up, especially as commercial aviation has long benefited from a very easy tax regime. In other words, people will have to be "priced off planes" and the cheap flights bonanza will have to end.


Amen, brother.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 29, 2005 7:58 PM
Comments

Aren't these the same sort of people who've spent the last few decades been saying that tourism was better than development, and a substitute for resource extraction industries? Which leads me to conclude that what they object ot is other people's success, especially if they are poor or naturally tanned.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 29, 2005 10:24 PM

Blake wants all those Swedes, Brits, and other Euros to pile into buses to get to their post-Christmas holiday in Tahiti.

It'll never happen.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at May 29, 2005 10:32 PM

Take a boat.

Posted by: oj at May 30, 2005 12:14 AM

The tax would have to be enormous to change my flying behavior. I fly from Seattle to Reno or San Francisco 3 or 4 times a year to visit family and friends. Flying Southwest typically costs less than $150 and saves about 17 hours of travel. Each one of those hours saved is worth more than $10 to me so even doubling the fare wouldn't persuade me to drive. It would certainly discourage families from flying and eliminate short flights of 300 miles or less, but I don't think that would solve many problems related to energy use, pollution or culture.

Posted by: Pat H at May 30, 2005 12:46 AM

[S]et out in detail how the soaring growth in CO2 emissions from aircraft [...] will do terrible damage to the atmosphere and make a nonsense of global warming targets, such as Britain's stated aim of cutting CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Rubbish.
In the first place, the population of Europe is likely to have shrunk 15% by 2050, so they'll commensurately be using fewer resources, and polluting less.
Secondly, humans are going to burn that oil anyhow. We can either do it quickly, and switch to something else, or we can do it more slowly, but either way, the same amount of pollutants are going to be created, and likely before 2050.

If this is an honest position by Greenpeace, and not simply a position of convenience, then they have pitifully little faith in human ingenuity.
Not only is a 60% reduction in net CO2 doable, it's setting the bar too low.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 30, 2005 10:58 AM

The real agenda behind enviromentalism is making people miserable and creating problems for them. It is a bid by the upper classes to put the lower orders in their places. This is just more of the same.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at May 31, 2005 1:54 AM
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