Flying is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment. Most of us know that.. But we still do it! For people who love to travel and dream of seeing the world, not flying is either inevitable or really, really expensive (especially if you're a student!). But to be honest, I only just realised about a year ago how bad flying actually is for the environment and why it's a huge contributor to climate change.
So how does flying contribute to climate change? To cut it short, aircraft engines emit heat, noise, particulates and nasty gasses into the atmosphere (thanks Wikipedia). But while digging deeper into the subject, this is what I found:
- The aviation industry relies fully on the fossil fuel industry. The industry burns through 5 million (!) barrels of oil every single day (yikes), which results in 2,5% of total carbon emissions worldwide (yes, that's a lot).
- Why are flights so cheap and trains so expensive? A convention in 1944 decided that international flights would be free of jet fuel taxes and VAT, while taxes for other kinds of transportation, such as cars and trains, have skyrocketed since then. Makes no sense and completely outdated if you ask me..
- Lots of people talk about the carbon emissions, but let's not forget about other aviation emissions that have a warming effect, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), water vapor, particulates, contrails (the trail a plane leaves behind in the sky) and cirrus (thin, wispy strands of cloud) changes. All of the above combined contribute to global warming with the same 2,5% as the carbon emissions, putting the overall aviation contribution to about 5%.
- According to Stefan Gössling, a professor at Sweden's Lund and Linnaeus universities and co-editor of the book Climate Change and Aviation: Issues, Challenges and Solutions, "On an individual level, there is no other human activity that emits as much over such a short period of time as aviation, because it is so energy-intensive".
For most of us, flying has become a normal part of our lives, so it really sucks realising how bad it is for the environment. From now on, if you fly, try to be aware of its impact and consider alternative transportation methods and/or carbon offsetting. Awareness is the first step!
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is "the counteracting of carbon dioxide emissions with an equivalent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere". It's really easy to calculate how much carbon your flight has emitted and how much you would need to pay to help reduce the same amount of carbon - just click here to calculate it all. After the calculation, you decide which carbon offsetting project you want to support (which you can also find on myclimate). For example, you could choose a project that focuses on reforestation. Planting new trees reduces the amount of CO2 in the air. That’s why reforestation is considered an effective mitigation strategy to fight global warming.
Carbon offsetting is great, but the best thing to do is to avoid flying altogether (if this is possible!). Try to take the train or even the car! It's all WAY better than flying and you get the nice views along the way for free! A lot of the time, flying is hard to avoid, but if you're going somewhere that's accessible by train or car, consider it. Every step we take is a step in the right direction!
This post was contributed by Laura, a 25 year old eco-warrior! Through her blog she want to spread the message about eco-friendly living. The zero-waste movement can feel like an extreme lifestyle make-over, but I she wants to make it more accessible and encourage every step in the right direction. Tips and tricks on how to create less waste and be mindful of our planet!