Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wither Air Travel

Even though air travel produce only 3% of the industrial world’s total carbon dioxide output, why do environmentalists continue to vilify it as the main culprit of global warming?

By: Ringo Bones and Vanessa Uy

Having seen “The Ethical Man” series of documentaries on the BBC’s world service, both of us had always wondered why air travel receives a disproportionate amount of vilification by the world’s environmentally conscious populace. Is it because of the current reality that biofuels won’t work (they’ll freeze) at the high altitudes frequented by commercial air traffic? Or is it because that the ownership of “private jets” -the perennial (30-year-old?) aspiration- of the ultimate status symbol never goes out of fashion? If these environmentalists hate air travel for these reasons, are they willing to boycott Mid-East oil in order to solve the turmoil in Iraq and put an end to the Bush Administration/Oligarchy’s and Al- Qaeda’s raison d’être? Or should we be asking the question: “Is there an alternative to air travel?”

Since -at present- politics beat environmental concerns, in our opinion there will never be an alternative to air travel unless the worldwide peace and order situation undergoes a radical turn for the better. Land based mass transit systems –like bus and rail- are easy prey for Taliban-style insurgents armed with assault rifles and man-portable artillery. Sea travel fares no better, remember the Achile Lauro incident more than 20 years ago? Even the US Navy’s USS Cole, was seriously damaged by an Al-Qaeda operative sailing a “floating firecracker.” Since 99% of the world’s terrorist organizations don’t have yet the capability to shoot down commercial planes flying at 30,000 feet, then flying is still-for the foreseeable future- the safest way to travel. Even if it’s not quite environmentally friendly.

The 2008 US Presidential Elections are looming on the horizon. Does every one of these presidential candidates need to hop on their individual private jets just to go from one Presidential Debate venue to another? Maybe these presidential candidates do a “carpooling” equivalent on their private jets. Security protocols could still be maintained while reducing the candidate’s carbon footprint. It would be quite hypocritical if these presidential candidates say they are pro-environment yet they use their private jets as if they are bicycles.

The world’s politicians should stop procrastinating when it comes to conflict resolution. Unless they have a vested interest in a “carbon intensive” industry, a more peaceful world means a less energy-intensive world.

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