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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Flying...to destruction



Flying is one of the causes of increasingly ferocious climate change. I invite you to stop. 



This isn't really going to boost my popularity, but it has to be said.

Worldwide air travel is likely to double over the next two decades. 2016 is likely to beat 2015 as the warmest year on record.

If you fly, you are, yourself, part of that equation. If you post pictures on Facebook of places you've visited far away, and you flew to get there, you are therefore helping to destroy the places you profess to love, including the place you probably value most of all - your own home. We can blame the government, justifiably, but in the end you are partly to blame. And, given, that I've flown six times in the 50 years I've been alive, so am I. Which is why I won't be flying again. How you feel about this is of course up to you, but denial is not an option. Flying is one of the major causes of increasingly ferocious climate change. I invite you to stop.

The Tories have now displayed their planet-trashing tendencies yet again, as if we should really be surprised. They are not all bad, a handful of them, such as John Selwyn Gummer and, a Tory until yesterday, Zac Goldsmith, take the Earth's current environmental emergency seriously. However, most of them simply don't seem to care. The Third Runway at Heathrow falls into a pattern - an attempt to devastate the UK in the 1990's with a major programme of road building, slashing subsidies for renewable energy generation while promoting North Sea oil, nuclear and fracking, a significant amount of climate change denial within the party itself, and now approval of the third runway. The lesson is clear, as it always has been. You can't a trust a Tory to protect the planet.

In the UK, aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. According to the World Development Movement, if the third runway is built it will emit as much CO2 as the whole of Kenya. In 2009, according to figures from the Department for Transport, Heathrow generated half of all the country's aviation emissions. If a third runway is built, it will generate half the UK's overall emissions. If the UK is to meet its target of an 80 percent cut in CO2 by 2050, there must be no expansion at Heathrow, since the expansion of UK aviation will seriously undermine this target.

What about the business case for the runway proposed by those in favour of the runway? It's actually a nonsense. Most people who fly from London airports don't mind which airport they use. London has six airports in total, with seven runways. Paris has eight runways. Amsterdam has six. Frankfurt 5 and Madrid 4. Therefore comparing Heathrow in isolation with any of those cities is ludicrous.

"The second reason is that the climate impact of aeroplanes is not confined to the carbon they produce. They release several different kinds of gases and particles. Some of them cool the planet, others warm it. In the upper tropo-sphere, where most large planes fly, hot, wet air from the jet engine exhaust mixes with cold air. As the moisture condenses, it can form "contrails", which in turn appear to give rise to cirrus clouds - those high wispy formations of ice crystals sometimes known as "horsetails". While they reflect some of the sun's heat back into the space, they also trap heat in the atmosphere, especially at night; the heat trapping seems to be the stronger effect. The overall impact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a warming effect 2.7 times that of the carbon dioxide alone."
- George Monbiot, 2006

The construction of a third runway would lock the UK into a path of high carbon dioxide emissions. For that reason alone, it must be stopped.

I invite you to be part of that attempt to stop the construction of the third runaway. Stop flying or reduce the amount of flying you do, restrict your flying to essential flying only, try and offset your emissions by cutting your carbon footprint in other areas of your life or by contributing to a tree planting charity every time you fly, protest, do direct action if you want to. But whatever you do, do something.

And start doing it now.



This blog post may also be seen on my website, here.


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Energy & Environment Dates 2012