Environmental Issues and Aircraft

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May 10, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Does anyone know the pollution emitted by aircraft per passenger-mile? I would think it is many times that emitted by the automobile. Yet I never hear environmental groups kick up any fuss about aircraft. Greenhouse emissions (CO2) must be much higher with aircraft. Besides, in the larger scheme of things, the average person going to work or shopping seems to me a more necessary function than someone flying to a vacation spot. IMO we need to tax jet fuel a lot more and apply that money towards reducing the overall tax burden on the average working family.
The C02 emissions are merely a footnote IMO. The real 'meat' is in vapor trails. After 9/11, when no planes were flying, the average temp rose 2-3degrees F. I found that utterly amazing that airplanes alone cause that to happen solely due to the vapor trails! Amazing!! "Trails of condensation held In narrow paths of white The sun is turning black The world is turning gray" Buster, Schmoe??? [Big Grin]
Not everyone flys for pleasure in fact I know many folks who fly for work on their own dime. I fly to and from work like most people commute in a car. Airlines(well their customers) already have a hefty tax levied on them per flight. In addition if you drove 120 people from Houston to Seattle you actually think it will use less fuel? Heck, carpool them all in buses and it still would use more fuel and putting all them airline travelers on the road would really mess up interstate traffic. Just for a rough guesse I think a 737 I regularly ride on uses an average of 900 gallons of fuel per hour. My regular time between gates of those two cities is 4.5 hours or 4050 gallons of fuel(this is averaged for havy taxi and take off fuel loads and light desent loads). Divided on a light load of 120 passengers we are looking at 33.75 gallons of fuel consumed per passenger between Houston and seattle. If each had to drive a car they would need to get over 72 MPG per passenger. You get them all(unrealisticly) in a 4 passenger car and it is obtainable at 18mpg per passenger But then you are putting 30 more cars on the road for each route. With all the extra traffic on surface roads getting good fuel effeciency is going to be more difficult and we haven't even gotten into the time factor or business impacts and revenue losses to companies and indivisuals who require timely travel in this get it done by tommorow morning business culture. If you don't like the price of fuel, buy less.
"get it done by tomorrow business culture". How much of this culture is a consequence of the ease of air travel? I question the necessity of so much air travel. Taking your example of a trip from Houston to Seattle, how many people would drive by car if air travel wasn't available? I am guessing a lot fewer. In other words, a lot less fuel gets burned. Your Houston to Seattle passenger is burning 33.75 gallons of fuel in 4.5 hours, it takes a lot more time to use up that much fuel in a car. My point is that the availability of cheap air travel encourages a lot of extra fuel consumption. People think nothing of flying half way around the world. The same amount of fuel keeps my automobile running for months.
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