Climate Change

Aviation and Climate Change

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 25, 2006

With Hamilton's Aerotropolis plan unfolding, this excerpt from science correspondent George Monbiot's new book Heat makes some gut-churning reading.

He confronts the climate change impacts of aviation, the fastest growing mode of transportation that produces greenhouse gases, and of a government air traffic policy based on the same "predict and provide" model that has riddled our built environment with self-perpetuating highways:

as you increase the provision of space in order to meet the predicted demand, the demand rises to fill it, ensuring that you need to create more space in order to accommodate your new projections.

He examines and discards the hopeful arguments that air transport will somehow become a lot cleaner and/or more efficient that it is today, and concludes:

Given that the likely possible efficiencies [in airline energy use] are small and tend to counteract each other, an 87 percent cut in emissions requires not only that growth stops, but that most of the aeroplanes flying today be grounded. ...

I urge you to remember that these privations affect only a tiny proportion of the world's people. The reason they seem so harsh is that this tiny proportion almost certainly includes you.

To put this in context: if you make more than $47,500 a year, you are in the top one percent of income earners on earth.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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