Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Airline travel and global warming

Here's a link to an article in yesterday's New York Times on "Offsetting Environmental Damage by Planes" by Harry Rijnen.
On a round trip from New York to London, according to the calculations of the Edinburgh Center for Carbon Management in Scotland, a Boeing 747 spews out about 440 tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. That is about the same amount that 80 S.U.V.'s emit in a full year of hard driving.
However, airline travel contributes only a small, though rising, percentage of total carbon dioxide emissions:
There may be cause for more concern in the years ahead. Despite the current lull in air travel and according to figures provided by the Edinburgh Center, an independent consulting group, worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from civil aviation will double from 1999 to 2015, to 900 million tons a year, despite a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency by the airline industry over the period. By 2015, airplanes' share of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions will rise to 3 percent from 2 percent in 1999.
A small aside: the article mentions Barrow-in-Furness, a seaside town in NW England. I visited there in the mid-1980s; it's where Trident submarines were built.

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