Measuring Aviation's Effect On Climate "Complicated"
Some experts now say aviation is
possibly a bit more dangerous to the environment than widely
thought... not only due to carbon dioxide emissions, but also to
the other gases emitted as well. The experts believe these gases
warm the earth.
"Growth is going to continue, but it is complicated to estimate
the effect of aviation on the climate," said Ivar Isaksen, a
professor at Oslo University. He is also an expert in aviation
effects on the atmosphere, according to Reuters.
Isaksen contends the impact of aviation on the environment goes
far beyond carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, which is what
governments use for calculations.
Reuters reports the problem with aviation emissions may be
amplified by such things as nitrogen oxides that trap heat and are
more damaging at high altitudes. Then there's cirrus clouds that
usually warms the Earth's surface. Jet condensation trails could
possibly be helping to form a literal blanket of cirrus clouds at
UN studies have pointed out that aviation is responsible for
roughly two percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions and
annual passenger growth of five percent will surpass any efficiency
gains from better aircraft design or fuel.
"The science around this isn't very clear," said CarbonNeutral
spokesperson Sarah Brown. CarbonNeutral is an offset company that
lets interested travelers invest in renewable energy projects
designed to absorb aviation emissions.
Another UN report completed in May by its climate panel said
including the aviation industry in a greenhouse gas trading scheme
as well as extra fuel charges "would have the potential to reduce
emissions considerably," Reuters reported.
"A first possible approach is where initially only carbon
dioxide from aviation is included in for example an emission
trading system," the report said.
"We're trying to estimate the overall effect," said Robert
Muller at Germany's Atmosfair, a company that allows people to pay
for the greenhouse gases they are responsible for. The money is
then invested in climate protection projects.
CarbonNeutral estimates each passenger flying from Sydney to
London is responsible for a little more than two tons of greenhouse
gases, at a cost of about S28 to offset.