In the Facebook group Climate Steps that goes with this blog, we have been discussing traveling quite a bit, since it is one of the leading causes of C02 emissions (Wynes and Nicholas, 2071: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541). One of my favorite graphs for illustrating their data is from Phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html. Both graphs show that four of the top ten personal behaviors you can do to fight climate change deal with travel: not owning a car, fly less, and drive a EV or a hybrid, with the first being the most impactful.
So here we talk about the various types of travel, and how you can remove or minimize carbon output. It starts with content from a post I wrote about calculating the carbon for the type of trip you take, but more is coming from our FB Climate Steps discussions and other resources!
During three flights from Wyoming to Kuwait, I kept looking around at all the 100s of people who were probably not thinking about climate change at all. And I kept looking at the amazing amount of trash generated with each meal delivered, with each blanket, set of headphones, and magazines wrapped in plastic, and was heartsick. And I had no idea at the time how much carbon I was generating from an overseas flight. “One mile in the air produces 53 pounds of carbon dioxide.” (blueskymodel.org/air-mile). What to do about it?
- “I started refusing drink service, and just drinking my nalgene water bottle to save trash, because those bags and bags of plastic make me so so sad.” Alanna.
- Every flight – ask if they recycle.
- Carbon offsetting – as a last resort. See the soon-coming carbon offsetting page here.
- Solar airplanes are being explored. If you’re rich, perhaps you could invest. sigh.
Driving does generates much less C02 than flying, apparently. (The NativeEnergy calculator shows .05 tons for driving from DC to Morgantown, West Virginia, whereas flying would have been 0.42 tons). For three-five hour distances, that equals the same time as flying. Yet – think of all the toxins generated by building those lovely tar roads. I’m not sure the planet comes out ahead. Climate steps:
- Carpooling – Automatically cuts your carbon dioxide generation in half!
- Rental cars – Ask for green, fuel efficient cars every time verbally (not just in the form). Car rental people will be shocked, and repeated requests may actually generate results. Specifically use the words green, hybrid, or EV.
- Your car. (sigh)
- First, do you need one? Can you do carpool or carshare instead (so many cities now?)
- EV! Solar cars now!
- Permeable-Paver driveways! https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-install-permeable-paver-driveway. (Thanks Julie)
- Plant trees that will shade roads and parking lots.
- Your RV!
- Go solar! – http://www.greenmatters.com/living/2017/08/31/ZHQvPu/solar-rv. However, our group decide that still problematic: Still cars needing steel and glass, vulnerable to road damage, vandalism. (Hugh, Tom and Roger.)
- How to drive, now that’s a question. Here’s a great summary: https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/86074.
Taxis, Lyfts, Ubers, etc…
- Lyfts and Ubers started off as true car shares, but now many times they are just taxi services, sitting and idling, or driving around – increasing traffic overall (2017), often while waiting for one individual customer. People also prefer to take instead of public transportation (same link). Avoid – or only choose the share ride option. Other articles:
- One night in a moment of weakness I took a taxi home from the airport instead of the metro (I am lucky I have the choice.) While driving home, the taxi driver told me he had been waiting in line (meaning idling!) for one a half hours. He also talked non-stop. Metro, metro, metro.
The TRAIN!! (or for short distances – the Metro! the Subway!)
After walking, which is admittedly for short-distances only, this is by far the winner in terms of
- Fun – https://adventuresacrosstheyears.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/train-to-texas-a-timescape/)
- Roominess – oh the leg room! and plus you can get up and walk around to the lounge cars, viewing cars, dining cars – and hopefully one day soon in the U.S. – gym cars.
- Noise level. They are generally quite quiet (and kids running up and down the aisle get lectures.) I sleep well on trains, and better yet, I write well on trains.
- No bag security check!
- Generally there is free wi-fi. In all my train trips, there’s only been one that did not have wi-fi.
- Tourist views (Oh and people-watching). There are Big windows from which you watch the world go by in a comfy reclining chair (with footrest.).
- Carbon tons from ‘train-ing’ halfway across the US: 0.02. Carbon tons flying back: 0.53. (NativeEnergy.com and …) See Train-ing Ourselves.
It is a loser, though, in a couple ways.
- There is no bag check, so that security is a little lower.
- Flight Time:
- Flight to New Orleans from DC, about 6 hours including time in airport and on flight.
- Train to New Orleans from DC, about 28 hours including time in train station.
Oh, we’re not done here yet….
Fighting climate change in airports and hotels…
What to do while waiting around in airports and hotels? More info to come.
Finally, how about not traveling?
- Conduct teleconferences! Becoming more and more in fashion!