Green Living: Make Your Airfare “Air-Fair,” Steve Waller

flying green, Green Living, UP Holistic business, U.P. wellness publication, Upper Peninsula of MI holistic publication

“You are now free to move about the country.” We love to fly, and it shows. Airports and airplanes are crowded. It’s finally affordable and possible to just jump on an airplane and “fly the friendly skies” to grandma and the distant kids for a long-awaited holiday hug. “You deserve a break today” in some warm exotic place. Leave COVID confinement a thousand miles behind. What takes days by car is just a couple of hours away by plane. The power and roar of a jet engine taking off is a sign of “something special in the air”—massive amounts of carbon dioxide, CO2.

But you can fly green. I’ll explain.

A single weekend flight, Detroit to Los Angeles, four thousand air miles round trip, emits more CO2 per passenger seat than the average American car emits in three months. Automobiles with two passengers produce only half the CO2 per person. But airplane miles and CO2 are rated per seat. Two passengers generate 8,000 miles of airplane CO2 instead of 4,000. If you and another fly to Los Angeles, that rate comes to the equivalent of almost seven months of automobile CO2 in a weekend!

Jet fuel, aviation gas, and automobile gas each emit almost twenty pounds of CO2 per gallon. On average, an airplane produces over fifty-three pounds of CO2 per air mile. A 747 airplane can carry up to 568 people and 63,000 gallons of fossil fuel. It burns about 5 gallons of fuel per mile, about 1 gallon per second! That 4,000 mile flight generates (4,000 miles x 53 lbs. CO2 per mile) 212,000 lbs.—100 tons of CO2! In 2019, the average domestic commercial flight emitted 0.39 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile. 4,000 miles x 0.39 CO2 per mile = 1,560 lbs. CO2 per person.

Today, globally, there are more than 100,000 flights per day.

Global airline passengers are expected to double in the next 20 years. Improving fuel efficiency (proudly claimed by many airlines) reduces emissions 1% per year but flights are increasing 6% per year. It’s not even close. Airline CO2 is rising.

Some airlines promise “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF – biofuels) but hardly any is available. One popular airline boldly committed to replacing 10% of fossil jet fuel with SAFs by 2030 (90% will still be fossil fuel).

Fly greener. Compensate for airline emissions by buying carbon offsets. Offsets try to neutralize airplane CO2 by preventing or removing equivalent CO2 elsewhere. However, it is hard to be sure an offset will permanently “absorb” the emissions your flight generates.

Some offsets plant trees to capture CO2, but seedlings take 20 years to grow big enough to be effective. If seedlings or trees die or are cut down or burn in a wildfire within the next 200 years, the CO2 returns to the air. Instead of planting trees, we must focus on growing and protecting trees, especially the biggest and longest-lived trees, for centuries.

Some offsets support social programs in poor countries that build schools to educate people about carbon solutions and sustainability. They build roads and ranger stations to help prevent illegal logging or provide more efficient cookstoves so very poor families burn less wood for cooking or use less fossil energy. My favorite offsets support methane capture or solar and wind energy projects which directly prevent CO2.

You choose how your offset dollars are used. Average offset prices are between $3-$50 per ton of CO2. Some people annually offset all their CO2. Consider the United Nation’s Gold Standard certification (https://marketplace.goldstandard.org/collections/projects or https://clear.eco/).

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. Steve can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Excerpted from the Winter 2021-22 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Green Living Links, Winter 2012 – 13

Check out these great links recommended by Health & Happiness’s Green Living column writer Steve Waller, pertaining to his article in the Winter 2012 – 2013 issue,   A New World Record! (But shhh!… Pretend you don’t know).

The 2012 record recorded on YouTube (30 sec.):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaKqhRTqSlg&feature=youtu.be

The hilarious “Rogue Weathergirl” (MUST WATCH! 2.5 min.):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmfcJP_0eMc&feature=related

The arctic ice monitoring experts:
http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2012/09/

THE FABULOUS FREE PHONE APP (available on the website):
http://www.skepticalscience.com/

Are We Being Manipulated?

A Green Living article by Steve Waller

Something strange is happening. The Oct. 4, 2009 national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds fewer Americans, (57%, down from 71% in 2008), think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.
In January 2009, global warming ranked at the bottom of the American list of policy priorities. Only 30% of Americans said it should be a top priority, down from 35% a year ago. Global warming is the lowest-rated priority for both independents and Republicans and ranks sixteenth for Democrats among 20 issues. Across all age groups, except those younger than age 30, the percentage who think warming is a very serious problem has declined since 2008.
Independents’ belief dropped dramatically, from 75% in 2008 to 53% in 2009. Just 35% of Republicans see solid evidence today, down from 62% in 2007. The drop among moderate Republicans has been particularly steep; only 41% now say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 69% last year. Even Democrats see less evidence — 75% today compared with 83% in 2009, (91% in 2006). What evidence changed their minds?
Oddly, Americans claim to see less evidence as credible agencies that track global warming data around the world see more evidence. Arctic ice is a global thermometer that clearly reflects global temperatures. The National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado at Boulder (NSIDC, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) has monitored arctic ice conditions daily since 1976 and clearly shows more evidence of warming.
Since March 1958, average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have been measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii (available on http://co2now.org/) and show more evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising. Antarctic ice cores indicate that in 800,000 BC(!) CO2 levels were only 220 parts per million (ppm) (see http://www.terranature.org/antarcticIceCore.htm). During those 800,000 years prior to industrialization, CO2 was between 172 and 300 ppm. In 1850, CO2 was at 280 ppm; in 1958, 315 ppm; and in 1990, 350 ppm (considered the highest tolerable global level). As of Dec. 2009, CO2 was at 387 ppm.
The only evidence for carbon dioxide similar to today’s levels was 15 to 20 million years ago when the planet (and mankind) was dramatically different. During this timescale, methane was never higher than 750 parts per billion (ppb) but now it stands at 1,780 ppb.
The rate of change is the most dramatic, with carbon dioxide increases never exceeding 30 ppm in 1,000 years – now carbon dioxide has risen by 30 ppm in only the last 17 years. That’s evidence Americans suddenly stopped seeing last year!
What’s obvious is that those who claim to see less evidence are simply not looking for evidence. You can’t see what you don’t look for. Instead, Americans must be mistaking opinions for evidence. Americans are certainly saturated with opinions, but apparently not with evidence. That puts Americans at odds with the rest of the world which has a much higher concern about the evidence of global warming.
Could TV, promoting status-quo opinion, be persuading you that everything is OK and that evidence isn’t worth looking at? Might language testing and specific wording that turns public opinion on an issue, be turning on you? Has brain scan neuro-marketing learned what part of your brain helps marketers promote “don’t worry” campaigns without your conscious reasoning?
Before you express another mis-opinion about global warming, make sure you look for the evidence other Americans stopped seeing. Start at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming . There is great pleasure in clarity and clarity needs to be restored. Don’t be manipulated by opinions. Seek evidence.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind and sol powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Learn Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

 Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2010. Copyright Steve Waller, 2010.
Sources:
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1386/cap-and-trade-global-warming-opinion
http://people-press.org/report/485/economy-top-policy-priority
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Council on Foreign Relations
http://www.cfr.org/publication/20029/world_opinion_on_the_environment.html?breadcrumb=%2Fthinktank%2Fiigg%2Fpop%2F
World Opinion on the Environment 11/09 – From a variety of polls

Click to access POPCH5aEnvironment.pdf

U.S. Opinion on the Environment 11/09 – From a variety of polls

Click to access USPOPCH13aEnvironment.pdf

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Arctic Ice Cores
http://www.sustain.ucla.edu/news/article.asp?parentid=4676
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/22071
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7193/full/nature06949.html
http://www.terranature.org/antarcticIceCore.htm