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Is travelling selfish?

Travel Forums General Talk Is travelling selfish?

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31. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 10y

Interesting calculations, although taking into account the flights that are not full. Plus there are studies that are looking into the effects of the high rate of exhuast released at such high altitudes. The theory is carbon and methane released at such high altituteds are more damaging to the atmosphere then say your "compact car". Food for thought?

32. Posted by Peter (Admin 5807 posts) 10y

Quoting james

Flying distance from Sydney to San Francisco = 11,940 kms

Aviation fuel used between Sydney and San Francisco = 215,745 litres

215,745 / 11,940 = 18 litres of fuel consumed per kilometre travelled

18 * 100 = 1,800 litres of fuel consumed per 100 kilometres travelled

1,800 litres / 300 passengers = 6 litres of fuel consumed per person per 100 kilometres travelled.

Therefore fuel consumption on a per-person basis by modern jet is comparable to fuel consumption of a modern car.

That calculation assumes a car has only ONE person in it, when in fact, it could seat 5. So, fuel consumption on a per-person basis is rougly 5x that of a car :)

And Brendan, I hear what you are saying re: carbon offsets. I don't use it as a means to justify what I do. I am not about to give up flying only for the reasonably limited impact I would have though and the offsetting is merely a small step to help combat the problem. I also try numerous other things to actively reduce my carbon emissions, not just offset them.

I have this book "The consumer's guide to effective environmental choices", produced by the 'union of concerned scientists' and it has the following rough chart:

Impacts per Passenger Mile by Transportation Mode Compared with Bus Travel

Transport (greenhouse gases) (toxic air pollution)(land use)
Cars (3.0) (4.2) (4.4)
Motorcycles (3.0) (9.1) (5.9)
Passenger Air Travel (1.7) (0.6) (3.5)
Passenger Rail Travel (1.2) (0.2) (7.8)

Their calculations do take into account how full the planes are though. Trains tend to not nearly be as full, often even running virtually empty. That is the reason they didn't do as well as you might expect. Of course, trains that run efficiently and are generally full will do much better.

But still, it does paint a different picture to what we usually hear.

33. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 10y

True Peter, but I reckon most cars only ever have one person in them 90% of the time.

But the associated pollution caused by driving a car or flying a plane is just a small part of the overall equation.

I don't know how much of the earth is covered in roads, but consider the (continuing) destruction of the natural enviornment to build those roads. Then there's the pollution from the equipment that is used to build the roads, then there's the pollution from the equipment used to maintain the roads.

Also, there's the pollution from the factories that build planes and cars. There are a lot more car factories than plane factories.

I don't have an axe to grind either way, but I'm not going to feel guilty by getting in a plane once in a while. Not when most major cities of the world are clogged with cars.

34. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru 8870 posts) 10y

I'd just like to point out that we are the lucky generation when it comes to travel, and should take it by the throat and wring it's neck while we can.
Oil reserves will start to dwindle some time in the future, and those flights will not be as cheap as they are now. So you won't be able to afford to fly, unless your rich.

As for greenhouse effect and enviromental concerns, well if the ice cap melts, most major cities will be under the water so you can go by sail boat instead (nice and relaxing way to travel without having to line up for hours to get through security). Australia could be just one big sand pit, a bit like today, just bigger. But remember the world is going to get eaten up by the sun sometime anyway (ok a long way in the future, but it is going to happen and we're all brown bread then).

I think the biggest impact has been on the culture of the world, with MacD's and KFC everywhere, and irish bar on the moon etc... the more everyone travels, the more of a melting pot the world becomes. And I think it's great (apart from the fast food joints), no more wars over colour or religeon as everyone will be coffee coloured and worship the Guinness tap.

Selfish? no, it's the perfect way to bring peace and understanding to the world. Go on do your bit, travel the world and spread the word "legs".

35. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 10y

Quoting Rach-a

My point is that if you travel or not it is irrelevent - the impact you have on the environment comes from within - and every action you take whether positive or negative will make a difference whether you travel or not!!

That's so true. I totally agree.

Quoting Rach-a

Also with regards to flight schedules - planes are going to fly whether you book them or not. Flights won´t stop because they are half empty - so it doesn´t matter if you fly or cycle to your next destination - the consumption of fuel is going to be used up anyway!!

Here I don't agree though. If all flights end up half empty, eventually the companies will decrease the number of departures. As you said, they think more about what is economically friendly, but flying an aeroplane is expencive and if flight don't fill up they are gonna be limited.

Quoting Rach-a

...unless some sort of law is made.

That's an option too!!!

Anyway, saying that aeroplanes are bad for the environment doesn't mean that I think cars are good. Cars are a disaster! Cars are absolutely terrible, and they are in a way a lot worse than planes, because 1) everyone use them and 2) they are used on an every day basis. Especially bad is the fact that most people drive with only one person in the car (as james pointed out). I feel extremely guilty when I drive a car, and try to go by train as much as I can.

But what kind of argument is that? "I know I'm doing something bad but others are doing it too so I might as well go on" ...??!?!?! Sounds like a five year old kid to me.

//Susanna

36. Posted by ada (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y

Quoting bentivogli

You'd care to elaborate on that rather compact statement of yours, Jase? :-)

And a short reply to Ikey; I don't believe that only those who are 'free of sin' themselves are allowed to lecture others. Yes, I too fly occasionally, and yes, my ecological footprint is way too large, too. However, I sincerely try to limit my flights (I cross the oceans roughly once a year), don't fly intracontinentally at all, and try to 'compensate' for the burden I exert on the environment by making other people aware, volunteering in a number of environmental initiatives, etc.

Of course I am not saying that no-one should fly, even though that would be a most effective way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. I merely want the travelling community to think about the way they move around, and not just consider the world your own cultural snackbar that you can go to, eat at, pay and leave behind your rubbish, so to speak. And that doesn't just apply to the environmental impact of travellers' behaviour, but also to cultural and economical effects.

Niels

Of course, you live in a free country, so "those who are 'free of sin' themselves are allowed to lecture others", but not if they want to be taken seriously. Example: If I'm driving to work and a guy in the 4WD next to me winds down his window and tells me to stop driving to work because it's hurting the environment, I'm not likely to take him seriously. If I guy on a bike pulls up and says the same thing, maybe I'll listen a bit harder. If your as concerned about the environment as you say you are, and you want to be a spokesman in forums like this, may I suggest you consider practicing what you preach. I think you would find flying "accross oceans roughly once a year" is a LOT more than most of us.

[ Edit: Edited at Jun 8, 2006 2:19 AM by ada ]

37. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru 8870 posts) 10y

Quoting Peter

I have this book "The consumer's guide to effective environmental choices", produced by the 'union of concerned scientists' and it has the following rough chart:

Impacts per Passenger Mile by Transportation Mode Compared with Bus Travel

Transport (greenhouse gases) (toxic air pollution)(land use)
Cars (3.0) (4.2) (4.4)
Motorcycles (3.0) (9.1) (5.9)
Passenger Air Travel (1.7) (0.6) (3.5)
Passenger Rail Travel (1.2) (0.2) (7.8)

Their calculations do take into account how full the planes are though. Trains tend to not nearly be as full, often even running virtually empty. That is the reason they didn't do as well as you might expect. Of course, trains that run efficiently and are generally full will do much better.

But still, it does paint a different picture to what we usually hear.

I'd like to know how they calculated a motorbike being double a car for pollution?
Considering the adverage motorbike in the world is approx 300cc compaired to a car's 1800cc, this alone means that the amount of CO2 emmitted in 1 hr is approx 5 times less. Fuel economy is about 2 to 3 times that of a car. They do not sit in traffic jams like cars, therefore for a journey of the same distance, not only do they take less time, less wear and tear on the roads (therefore less building and maintenence required), they emmit far less pollutants.
Overall a motorbike is made up of less materials (so less industry pollution required) and does not contain near the massive amount of chemicals that a modern car contains (Laminated glass, foams,metals, thermoplastics, electronic boards, air conditioning, etc...).

In conclusion, over the life time of a car and motorbike I cannot see how they can come up with the figures they quote.

38. Posted by Peter (Admin 5807 posts) 10y

Quoting Jase007

I'd like to know how they calculated a motorbike being double a car for pollution?

They do acknowledge that that is a surprising statistic. I'll just quote them, because I personally don't know anything about the ins and outs of motorcycles (or engines in general!!) :)

Quoting the book

The finding for motorcycles is perhaps surprising at first glance. Although motorcycles get over twice the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks, their small engines have no catalytic converters or other pollution controls, resulting in high air emissions. Also, the proportion of steel and other metals in motorcycles is high compared with their total weight, resulting in relatively high toxic air and water pollutant emissions. In addition, motorcycles usually carry only one passenger, which raises the impact per passenger mile.

They don't really back it up beyond that, but I have no reason not to trust them as they are an independent group.

[ Edit: Edited at Jun 8, 2006 3:14 AM by Peter ]

39. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 10y

Quoting bentivogli

Dear all,

I have been lecturing many of you in the Europe and South America forums over the past few weeks on their flying habits, which I labelled 'irresponsible travel'.

...apart from the fact that I clearly disagree, and consider it my obligation as an 'intellectually gifted inhabitant' of this planet to point other people to the consequences of their behaviour, these responses made me curious about the following:

thanks,
Niels (Amsterdam)

Intellectually gifted compared to a lioness and an oryx or five perhaps, but that's about it

40. Posted by Jase007 (Travel Guru 8870 posts) 10y

Cheers Peter,
Looking at what you have quoted, the statement they are saying is either:
1 - out of date (emmissions laws in the western world are just as tight as for cars)
2 - they don't really know what they are talking about,
3 - they put more than 1 person in a car (unlike 90 odd % of cars in the real world)

But i would take it as the first & third ones.

Just a point on the Catalytic converters, these are made up of a honeycomb of prescious metals (platnum etc..) to burn up the unburnt gases. Having them on most cars is an expensive enviromentant concern.
This is one thing that is always forgotten about, not only is it a mining operation to obtain the metals, but they don't work unless they are hot (so short trips - school runs they don't operate fully) and the most concerning (to me anyway) is when they breakdown, They spew out cyanide, now that is a killer gas. There is also the disposal of the old converters too (full of poisonus sediment).

They should be investing into how to control the flame within the cylinders rather than the trend to increase the size of motors and plug a filter on the end. There was a study at a UK university a few years ago, they showed that emmissions could be reduced by 60% more that a CAT could achieve with a controlled burn.

Opps sorry for the rant, the engineer in me

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