Saturday, December 8, 2007

Going to Baltimore, Wrecking the Planet

Oh, we're living in a green time alright. Which is why I'd like to know why one of the very best things we could all do to promote greenness can't seem to get any traction. I'm talking about this nonsense whereby we all fly around the country to sit at meetings where our presence isn't truly required - where we smile at all the right times, make a few pertinent remarks, and otherwise sit pondering the only question we really care about, which is how soon we can get back to the airport and then back home.

According to Native Energy, a website that calculates the amount of greenhouse gases various kinds of travel emit, a flight I took this week from Boston to Baltimore contributed, if that's the word, .288 tons of C02 to the atmosphere.

This is how the site says it calculates this number:

Shorter flights are more fuel intensive because of the significant amount of altitude gain relative to the length of the flight itself. On a short trip, a large portion of the energy per mile is devoted to climbing and landing, compared to cruising. That means shorter trips are more carbon intensive.

Depending on whether your travel fits into the short, medium or long haul category, we apply a CO 2 emissions factor of 0.64, 0.44 or 0.40 lbs of CO 2 per passenger mile, respectively. This gives us the direct CO 2 emissions from your flight. [These factors are from the GHG Protocol Commuting Emissions Tool v 1.2]

In addition, we apply an RFI (radiative forcing index) of 2.0 to the direct CO 2 emissions from air travel, resulting in total CO 2 equivalent emission factors of 1.28, 0.88 or 0.8 for short, medium and long haul flight segments. By doubling the direct CO 2 emissions, our goal is to account for the overall global warming impact of air travel for all air emissions - not just the CO 2 - such as the warming effect of contrails.

I don't fly all that much, but even so, a "carbon footprint" quiz I took recently tells me that if everyone on earth lived the way I did, we'd need four and a half planets to sequester all the C02 we'd produce.

So why in the world aren't we simply talking on the phone with one another instead of rushing compulsively to these face-to-face meetings that cost us a fortune, exhaust us, eat up productive work hours at our offices, and - this is the kicker - ruin the planet? Anyone? Chime in. I'd love to hear.


LighteningButterfly said...

Corporate America who must protect it's profits is way ahead of non-profits on this one. They are responding with webinars, web x meetings, and video conferencing. Many corporations have cut back on all non-essential face to face meetings to cut costs. They even have rooms build with video conferencing at several sites so they can sit in rooms and meet "together".
Non-profits however are a little stuck in an "older school" approach
because that's the way they have done it and of course they have to have the technology.
The costs of computers and web cameras is changing all that.

SnowDahlia said...

I don't know about that - you think this is a nonprofit phenomenon? I met a guy in the airport who flies every week - every week to Chicago. Why? To put self-scanners on shopping carts, or some such thing. No one in Chicago can do this work?

Site Meter