Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Laggin' Again

Back home in fine shape though with a slight circadian dysfunction. In Hangzhou -- and in my head -- it's approaching lunch time. Here it's 03:30 in the morning. Me and my daughter are sharing the last seaweed crackers from the plane. Door to door, it took us a bit less than 18 hours to get here. Marco Polo's shade scoffs at the ease of our travels.

I've been hearing about the carbon dioxide emissions linked to air travel. Apparently, once we really start to take CO2 emissions seriously, then casual air travel will simply no longer be possible. Which would of course kill the entire global tourism sector and take a number of Third World economies with it. Kind of a fascinating perspective to ascetic me. Once more would a Slow Boat to China be the way to go...

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Blogger Daphne said...

Its funny you are mentioning GHG emissions from air travel - i was just reading today a memo from someone in the European Commission, talking about how much the people working for EC funded projects themselves (myself included!), e.g for the Environment or Energy & Transport Directorates, contribute to GHG emissions from aviation, since they have to fly to so many project meetings in various Member States. So is the EC itself, the one who is actually administrating the European Emissions Trading Scheme, causing part of the problem? Its a vicious circle, innit?! Anyway, I'm off blabbing way too much, wanted to mention I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up!

22 November, 2006 14:57  
Blogger Martin said...

My friend who works with foreign aid said precisely the same thing the other day -- she keeps flying to and fro over Vietnam advising them about the environment...

Imagine if we were cut off from fast physical travel yet still had instant communication over the internet!

Great to know you like the blog, many thanks!

22 November, 2006 15:36  
Anonymous tty said...

No slowboat to China unless it's really slow or nuclear powered. Passenger ships actually use more fuel per passenger kilometer than aircraft due to water resistance and the huge parasitic weight (since one can't keep people packed like sardines for weeks on end).
Actually this manic preoccupation with the relatively small part of CO2 emissions from aircraft is mostly traditional leftist asceticism.
The sensible thing would be to cut back on emissions where good alternatives exist (e. g. heating, electricity generation) and go on using fossil fuels where they are difficult to replace (e. g. aircraft).
In any case we shouldn't cut emissions back too much. It is not well-publicized, but at least some of the climatic models end up in an incipient ice-age if CO2 levels are returned to pre-industrial levels.

23 November, 2006 20:49  
Blogger Daphne said...

dear tty, we shouldn't cut emissions way too much? incipent ice-age eehh?
1. as if there's any chance of serious reductions in the coming years, and
2. although its not well publicized, the climatic models end up in an incipient ice-age if CO2 levels are returned to pre-industrial levels, where did you get this info from? Can I have some refs plz?
this comment kind of reminds of that climate-skeptic dude that once said "The CO2 lags behind temperature by centuries in the glacial-interglacial cycles, so clearly CO2 does not cause temperatures to rise, temperatures cause CO2 to rise"...go figure.

24 November, 2006 14:41  
Blogger kai said...

Indeed it is difficult to replace fossil fuels for flight, but that's the entire point of the argument - the carbon dioxide and not least the water vapour are placed smack in the place where they will do the most harm, so cutting back on flight is necessary.

Leftist asceticism has good reason behind it, whereas over-indulgence of any political stripe is bad. The Earth is finite and we should behave as if we were aware of that.

Anyway, slow boats to China is one alternative, but the Trans-siberian railway is another one. The Guardian has had a series of articles about carbon-neutral travel.

I myself have flown quite a bit in the service of the EU, but really, Europe isn't larger than that you can get around by train, so I've started doing that.

24 November, 2006 20:13  
Blogger Martin said...

Wouldn't it be great if the Russians could get their act together and get the Trans-Siberian into good enough shape for modern high-speed trains? Or while we're dreaming, why not a magnet-cushioned monorail!

24 November, 2006 20:22  
Anonymous tty said...

Dear Daphne

Try for example:

Ruddiman, W. F.; Vavrus, S. J.; Kutzbach, J. E. 2005. A test of the overdue-glaciation hypothesis. Quaternary Science Reviews 24(1-2):1-10. There are further references there.

Incidentally that information about temperatures leading CO2 variations during natural climate shifts is quite true, as anybody who knows anything about palaeoclimatology will tell you, though it is not exactly emphasized since it is, as you point out, apt to be misused.

Kai: Where in the atmosphere the CO2 is placed is completely immaterial since the atmosphere is completely mixed. It is true that H2O from aircraft at high altitude increase cirrus clouds which increase greenhouse effect. However this is strictly a short term effect since the H2O rains out within a few weeks.


24 November, 2006 20:35  

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