On our way to Thingvellir (to see Geysir and Gullfoss) we pick up two hitchhikers who, it turns out, had just attended the biennial
International Society for Ecological Economics. On the road, we admire a rainbow, stop for a photo op (hope you can see it at left) and they tell us about the conference. Linda describes it as “degrowth,” having people work less and have more free time–sign me up for that! More time for travel. But, oops, travel involves planes and planes are a to be avoided, according to our new friends. “Even though they emit only 2% of global co2 emissions? And 12% of all transport emissions?” I ask.
Linda dismisses that. They’re just bad, in part because they emit them at 30,000 feet, which makes airline emissions even more damaging.
I’m curious about that so after our drive, I check with Airlines 4 America (A4A), the U.S. airline trade group.
“Carbon dioxide, which accounts for 99 percent of aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions, has the same impact regardless of where they are emitted (ground level or higher in atmosphere),” their spokesman tells me in an email. “Aviation does emit 1 percent of its non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions at altitude, but that is far less than the normal uplift of non-CO2 emissions from other sources. In fact, regular emissions from any country get caught in uplift to the atmosphere, such that aircraft are a relatively small source,” he adds.
Have to pass that on to Linda. Meanwhile the research I’ve done for a cover story on “flying green” makes me think -airlines are just too highly motivated to save money on fuel! But, I think A4A and IATA (International Air Transport Association) might put this conference on their must attend list–unless they were the already. They have a lot of convincing to do!
But mostly, what I like about this exchange is the way travel puts you in touch with new ideas.