Friday, April 8, 2011

Is air travel really that bad for the Earth?

Ask Ida


Dear Ida B. Green,

I often travel long distances, so I have to travel by air. Is that such a bad deal, environmentally, since the plane is going to fly there anyway?

Signed,

Employed

Dear Employed,

Air travel is almost always the least environmentally friendly means of travel, whether the plane is full or not. Not only do airplanes use an incredible amount of fuel just to get off the ground (up to 80 percent of the total usage) but the harmful effects of emissions in our upper atmosphere is estimated to cause about 2.8 times more damage than emissions from ground transportation.

That said, we in the valley are a long way from anywhere and there are few options of how to get there. So, consider making your air travel more planet-friendly:

- Travel light—as with driving a car, unnecessary weight (heavy or unnecessary items in your luggage) reduces mileage.

- Fly direct—Avoid the multiple, fuel-guzzling take-offs and the extra miles necessary to zig-zag you across the country to your final destination.

- Purchase travel offsets—You can buy "offsets" from most travel companies that will pay to have carbon-absorbing trees planted to compensate for the miles you have flown (usually between $10 and $40 per flight, depending on the length).

- Use the most efficient transportation available once you arrive at your final destination.

Keep it Green,

Ida

—Elizabeth Jeffrey




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