Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Airplanes: Skyrocketing our Carbon Emissions

The popularity of air travel have been rising rapidly since the 1980’s and the greenhouse gasses that go along with them has as well. Currently airplanes work by burning kerosene a form of petroleum. When the engines burn this fuel a few different things happen. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major thing released however, water vapor, nitrous oxides, sulfate, and soot are also released into the atmosphere. It’s a bit worse than that though The IPCC which stands for the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has estimated that the climate impact of aircraft is two to four times greater than the effect of their carbon dioxide emissions alone. This is because at high altitudes or “cruising” heights there are atmospheric chemical reactions that take place with the chemicals released further damaging the environment. Part of the water vapor we can see know as condensation trails, The condensation trails are long bits of what we see as clouds but is water vapor and little bits of ice. They trap heat causing more global warming. Surprisingly during the day they are less damaging than at night. By no means are they good but during the day they reflect sunlight back into space temporarily helping us however at night only pollute and change the atmosphere.

Regulations In the near future!!
As of June 2015 The Obama Administration had a press release stating that they would be taking action against airplanes and the greenhouse gasses affiliated. The EPA will be in charge of creating regulations for airlines, however this will be a process that will take years to be put in practice in order to wait for international negotiations to be made. The EPA is currently receiving criticism for not acting faster by proposing regulations for just the U.S. and letting the international regulations be set based upon the U.S. regulations. 

So what can we do in the meantime?

Individually we can make the conscious choices to not use airlines unless completely necessary until new technology provides solutions for high greenhouse gas emissions! This means drive to the place you want if near enough or try a staycation! Really anything that will result in fewer planes launching!

Additional links
-Gregory Mallon

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