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robertogreco : flights   31

If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home? - The New York Times
"In the age of global warming, traveling — by plane, boat or car — is a fraught choice. And yet the world beckons."



"The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.

Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.

To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption. Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

And yet we fly more and more.

The number of airline passengers worldwide has more than doubled since 2003, and unlike with some other pollution sources, there’s not a ton that can be done right now to make flying significantly greener — electrified jets are not coming to an airport near you anytime soon.

Still, we wonder: How much is that one vacation really hurting anyone, or anything?

It is hard to think about climate change in relation to our own behavior. We are small, our effects are microscopically incremental and we mean no harm. The effects of climate change are inconceivably enormous and awful — and for the most part still unrealized. You can’t see the face of the unnamed future person whose coastal village you will have helped submerge.

But it turns out there are ways to quantify your impact on the planet, at least roughly. In 2016, two climatologists published a paper in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice.

32 = The square feet of Arctic summer sea ice cover that one passenger’s share of emissions melts on a 2,500-mile flight.

Each additional metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent — your share of the emissions on a cross-country flight one-way from New York to Los Angeles — shrinks the summer sea ice cover by 3 square meters, or 32 square feet, the authors, Dirk Notz and Julienne Stroeve, found.

In February, my family of three flew from New York to Miami for what seemed like a pretty modest winter vacation. An online carbon calculator tells me that our seats generated the equivalent of 2.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Throw in another quarter-ton for the 600 miles of driving we squeezed in and a bit for the snorkeling trip and the heated pool at the funky trailer-park Airbnb, and the bill comes to about 90 square feet of Arctic ice, an area about the size of a pickup truck.

When I did that calculation, I pictured myself standing on a pickup-truck-sized sheet of ice as it broke apart and plunged me into frigid waters. A polar bear glared hungrily at me.

Calculating the harm

And what of my vacation’s impact on my fellow man? Actually, academics have attempted to calculate that, too. Philosophers, not climatologists. But still.

In 2005, a Dartmouth professor, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, wrote in a journal article provocatively titled “It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations” that he was under no moral obligation to refrain from taking a gas-guzzling S.U.V. for a Sunday afternoon joy ride if he felt like doing so.

“No storms or floods or droughts or heat waves can be traced to my individual act of driving,” he wrote. Conversely, “If I refrain from driving for fun on this one Sunday, there is no individual who will be helped in the least.”

Other philosophers questioned his reasoning.

Professor John Nolt of the University of Tennessee took a stab at measuring the damage done by one average American’s lifetime emissions. (The average American generates about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year, more than triple the global average.)

Noting that carbon stays in the atmosphere for centuries, at least, and that a United Nations panel found in 2007 that climate change is “likely to adversely affect hundreds of millions of people through increased coastal flooding, reductions in water supplies, increased malnutrition and increased health impacts” in the next 100 years, Professor Nolt did a lot of division and multiplication and arrived at a stark conclusion:

“The average American causes through his/her greenhouse gas emissions the serious suffering and/or deaths of two future people.”

Then Avram Hiller of Portland State University used Professor Nolt’s approach to derive the impact of Professor Sinnott-Armstrong’s hypothetical 25-mile ride.

“At a ratio of one life’s causal activities per one life’s detrimental effects, it causes the equivalent of a quarter of a day’s severe harm,” he wrote.

“In other words, going for a Sunday drive has the expected effect of ruining someone’s afternoon.”

Multiply that joy ride by a three-person Florida vacation and you’ve ruined someone’s month. Something to ponder while soaking up UV-drenched rays on a tropical beach.

Ships? Even worse

There are alternatives to flying, of course. Perhaps a cruise? After all, there’s more ocean than there’s been in thousands of years. With the Northwest Passage now mostly ice-free in the summer, new vistas have opened. One cruise company runs polar bear tours to check out “the Arctic’s ‘poster boy.’”

Perhaps not. Bryan Comer, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit research group, told me that even the most efficient cruise ships emit 3 to 4 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than a jet.

And that’s just greenhouse gas. Last year, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the air onboard cruise ships was many times dirtier than the air nearby onshore.

3x to 4x = The amount of carbon dioxide the most efficient cruise ship emits per passenger mile when compared with a jet.

“Some of the particulate counts were comparable to or worse than a bad day in some of the world’s most polluted cities like Beijing and Santiago,” said Kendra Ulrich of Stand.earth, the advocacy group that commissioned the study.

While most cruise ships run on highly polluting heavy fuel oil, many have begun using “scrubbers” to remove toxic sulfur oxides from their exhaust. But the scrubbers discharge these and other pollutants into the ocean instead, and they’ve been banned by seven countries and several U.S. states.

A spokeswoman for Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group, said that the scrubbers comply with the new 2020 standards for air and water quality set by the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency. The spokeswoman, Megan King, added that it was not fair to compare emissions from ships and jets because a jet is just a transportation vehicle while a cruise ship is a floating resort and amusement park.

There’s always driving, which is less carbon intensive than flying, especially if there are multiple passengers. But “less” is relative, and most long trips are out of practical driving range anyway.

Considering carbon offsets

Maybe there is a justification out there somewhere: Personal decisions alone won’t stop global warming — that will take policy changes by governments on a worldwide scale. Tourism creates millions of jobs in places starved for economic development. Carbon offsets can effectively cancel out our footprint, can’t they?

Carbon offsets do seem to offer the most direct way to assuage traveler’s guilt. In theory, they magically expiate your sins. You give a broker some money (not a lot of money either — carbon offsets can be bought for $10 per metric ton). They give it to someone to plant trees, or capture the methane from a landfill or a cattle operation, or help build a wind farm, or subsidize clean cookstoves for people in the developing world who cook on open fires. All these things help cut greenhouse gas.

But nothing is that simple in practice. Carbon-offset people talk about concerns with things called additionality, leakage and permanence.

Additionality: How do you know the utility would not have built the wind farm but for the money you gave them?

Permanence: How do you know the timber company that planted those trees won’t just cut them down in a few years?

Leakage: How do you know the landowner you just paid not to cut down an acre of rain forest won’t use the money to buy a different acre and clear that?

While certifying organizations go to great lengths to verify carbon offset projects, verification has limits.

“Whether someone would have planted trees anyway, or taken some other action like building a housing development, is ultimately unknowable and something you have to construct,” said Peter Miller, a policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and a board member of the Climate Action Reserve, the country’s biggest carbon offset registry. “It’s an endless debate.”

Some carbon offsets are surer bets than others. “With methane capture,” Mr. Miller said, “once you capture that methane and you burn it — you’re done. It’s not in the atmosphere, it’s not going in the atmosphere. You’ve got a credit that’s achieved and you’ve avoided those emissions forever.”

Not flying at all would be better, Mr. Miller said, “but the reality is that there’s lots of folks that are going to do what they’re going to do.” For them, offsets are a lot better than nothing.

But some climate experts call offsets a cop-out.

“It’s like paying someone else to diet for you,” said Alice Larkin of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who has not flown since 2008.

She said that while governments do need to take tough action, they derive their courage to do so from the … [more]
flight  flights  travel  climatechange  globalwarming  2019  andynewman  emissions  carbonemissions  offets  carbonoffsets  flying  leakage  permanence  additionality  ayramhiller  johnnolt  waltersinnott-armstrong  dirknotz  juliennestroeve 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Ask Umbra’s 21-Day Apathy Detox | Grist
"Does this sound like anyone you know? “Dear Umbra: Since November — and really, for as long as I’ve known about the threat of climate change — I’ve been plagued by this sense of hopelessness and foreboding, and I just can’t shake it. I’ve tried it all: Late-night Facebook fights, splurging on fancy salads, retreats in the woods where I scream at a tree. Now I’m just parked on the couch watching Sex and the City reruns. Can I learn to hope again?” Well, you’ve found the right advice columnist. I’m here to quietly change your Facebook password and not-so-quietly offer the best tools, tricks, and advice to help you fight for a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. You’ll build civic muscles, find support buddies, and better your community!

DAY 1: Make a plan
DAY 2: Meet your neighbors
DAY 3: Social media makeover
DAY 4: Support local news
DAY 5: Read up on justice
DAY 6: Protest like a pro
DAY 7: Give green
DAY 8: Ditch the excuses
DAY 9: Green your power sources
DAY 10: Fight city hall
DAY 11: Get offline
DAY 12: Drop dirty money
DAY 13: School food fight!
DAY 14: Vote local
DAY 15: Attack your meat habit
DAY 16: Bug your elected rep
DAY 17: Buy less
DAY 18: Push for affordable housing
DAY 19: Talk climate at the bar
DAY 20: Support the arts
DAY 21: Run for office"

[via: https://go.grist.org/webmail/399522/223022613/dcfc605c05717cdbc5988a2c4d1a5fd7309a781b8364159d968011b54bd8b93b]

[See also (from the same newsletter):

https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator
https://grist.org/briefly/groundbreaking-study-outlines-what-you-can-do-about-climate-change/
https://slate.com/technology/2014/10/plane-carbon-footprint-i-went-a-year-without-flying-to-fight-climate-change.html
https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
https://grist.org/article/scientists-calmly-explain-that-civilization-is-at-stake-if-we-dont-act-now/ ]
climtechange  action  apathy  2018  sustainability  change  globalwarming  flights  transportation  food  energy  electricity  power  consumption  conssumrism  politics  activism  housing  justice  climatejustice  socialmedia  protest 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: Between worlds
"I sleep a little. Then I start writing this. Sometimes writing feels like bailing out a rowboat in the middle of a lake: ultimately futile, but it buys time."
writing  giovannitiso  2013  howwewrite  howwethink  airports  travel  flights 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Welcome the San Diego Air & Space Museum to The Commons! « Flickr Blog
"The San Diego Air & Space Museum is loaded with great images from aeronautical history. The breadth of the collection is amazing with images from the earliest days of flight, historic planes and pilots, space travel, and everything in between."
sandiego  flickr  history  air  space  commons  california  aviation  photography  archives  spacetravel  spaceexploration  flights 
may 2011 by robertogreco
MondoWindow: Welcome to the first-ever site for the connected air traveler!
"MondoWindow is a platform for online, in-flight, location-based content and entertainment.

It's a map that tells you where you are and what you're looking at as you fly.

MondoWindow is launching in time for flights to SXSW. The beta will be live on Tuesday, March 8. Anyone can sign up for the beta here.

MondoWindow was founded by Greg Dicum and Tyler Sterkel in 2010. Greg is a journalist and author; his books include the Window Seat series, about reading the landscape from the air. Tyler is a museum curator and interactive producer.

MondoWindow has partnered with Stamen Design to create the first ever consumer internet property directed at the connected airline passenger."
maps  travel  flights  flight  airtravel  stamen  flickr  place  geography  mapping 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Matrix 2 - Search
"Find the best flight deals with Matrix

Matrix is where we'll showcase some of the freshest travel search ideas from ITA Software. We’re constantly updating it, so let us know what you think. If you prefer, you can still access the original version.

Here are just a few of our innovative shopping features — try them for yourself.

* Geo Search – search by airport code, city, or nearby airport selector
* Event Finder – plan your trip with a listing of events and things to do
* Interactive Calendar – explore date ranges and find the lowest fares
* Real-time Filters – focus on flights that suit your preferences
* Color-coded Time Bars – compare flights at a glance"
airlines  airfare  flights  matrix  shopping  comparison  travel  aggregator  iphone  applications  ios 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Booking a Flight the Frugal Way - Frugal Traveler Blog - NYTimes.com
"Today, however, booking a flight is a total mess. Travelocity and Expedia have been joined by Bing and Orbitz and Dohop and Vayama and CheapTickets and CheapOair and Kayak and SideStep and Mobissimo and and and … I could go on and list every single Web site out there, but I won’t. There are just too many. Instead, I’ll lead you through the steps I make when I’m booking a flight myself.
travel  flights  howto  tutorial  reference  money  advice  tips  shopping  bargains  flying  airfare  airlines  budget  lifehacks  cheap  tools  onlinetoolkit 
february 2010 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] planes on strings
"12:53:16 PM Mike Migurski: do little wooden balls fall down a chute each time a plane lands
children  visualization  airports  planes  transportation  glvo  flights  animatronics 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Dopplr Blog » Blog Archive » Mobile Phones on EU Flights
"To make the point that the chatter is intrusive, I sometimes visibly listen to the person who’s talking, and even take notes if obviously listening doesn’t work. Amazing how quickly these folks wrap up their calls."
mobile  phones  etiquette  flights  travel  public  society 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Stranded at the airport? Don’t forget Rule 240 - TODAY: Travel - MSNBC.com
"Rule 240 — which states that in the event of any flight delay or cancellation caused by anything other than weather, the airline would fly me on the next available flight — not their next available flight, which might not leave for another 24 hours."
airlines  airports  travel  weather  flying  flights  rule240 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Doors of Perception weblog: Traveling without moving in Uncanny Valley
"Philosophers...perplexed by relationship between body & experience for 2,000 years...I will ask whether we might design virtual encounters more effectively if we were look more to iconography, ritual, & poetic imagination - & less to brute bandwidth"
body  design  travel  human  meetings  conferences  sustainability  johnthackara  via:preoccupations  flights  bodies 
january 2008 by robertogreco
BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » The social flight
"What if a plane flight were networked and became a social experience with its own economy?...Once airplanes’ passengers are connected with the ground, that enables them to get connected with each other."
cooperation  flying  networks  social  travel  dopplr  flights  networking  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  socialnetworking 
december 2007 by robertogreco
Jan Chipchase - Future Perfect: Reflective Moments, Carbon Footprints
"In what contexts is there a business case for travel agents to encouraging you not to fly? How about in a corporation trying to cut the frequency of employee travel. Or a health insurer who can offer discounts based on the correlation between sick days a
travel  future  flights  dopplr  carbon  sustainability  gamechanging  environment  work  green  consumption  economics  finance  insurance  markets  janchipchase 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Farecast Travel Insights, Airline News and Trends » Reviewing 2006 Christmas Airfares
"t’s time to get going and book your flights for the Holidays. I’ve talked about Thanksgiving in some recent posts. Today I’m going to review what we saw in the run up to Christmas 2006 and make some suggestions for Christmas 2007"
travel  holidays  airfare  flights  money 
september 2007 by robertogreco
UnSecureFlight.com :: Read Your Own DHS Travel Dossier
"The Department of Homeland Security already knows everything about your travel. Now, for the first time, The Identity Project makes it easy for you to request the unclassified parts of the dossier that the DHS has complied on you."
flights  transparency  travel  howto  information  politics  privacy  records  personal  government  security 
september 2007 by robertogreco
SPACE.com -- Spaceport America: First Looks at a New Space Terminal
"Selected from an international field of eleven firms, the winning design is the work of URS Corporation - a large design and engineering enterprise - teamed with Foster + Partners of the United Kingdom, a group with extensive experience in crafting airpo
virgingalactic  space  flights  travel  tourism  architecture  design  spaceport 
september 2007 by robertogreco
We Love to Fly and It Shows: Inside the World of Mileage Running
"Mileage runners are the high-tech nomadic wanderers of the air. Predominantly male, generally obsessed with flying and miles, and typically employed in white-collar careers that involve significant business travel, they scour the web for cheap flights, p
airlines  airplanes  aviation  flights  mileage  travel  howto  tutorials 
july 2007 by robertogreco
I.D Magazine - Border Game: Results of our Global I.D. Card Competition
"Bryan Boyer's winning design for a global I.D. card forgoes photos and statistics in favor of short-hand notes describing the card holder's past, present, and future destinations."
travel  personal  identity  global  international  debate  design  dopplr  globalization  world  place  flights  future  past  id  idmagazine  identification  idcard  identificationcard 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Bryan Boyer's simple yet elegant entry won I.D. Magazine's "global... (kottke.org)
"Bryan Boyer's simple yet elegant entry won I.D. Magazine's "global identity card" competition. What does an ID card mean for those without enough money to buy a car or have a credit card?"
travel  personal  identity  global  international  debate  design  dopplr  globalization  world  place  flights  future  past 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Dopplr Blog » Slides from the Reboot talk
"Travel and Serendipity: How personal informatics are engineering coincidence, lowering environmental impacts and forging a new golden age of travel"
dopplr  serendipity  travel  yearoff  change  perspective  human  technology  web  online  tools  cities  urban  sustainability  green  globalization  digitization  digital  international  world  flights  personal  place  footprint 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Marketplace: A better brand of business travel
"Commentator Lucy Kellaway suggests opening a new virtual airline where business travelers could get all the benefits of flying without the hassles."
travel  continuouspartialattention  multitasking  work  business  interruptions  society  focus  airlines  flights 
march 2007 by robertogreco

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