Greenwashing the Significant (and discretionary) Impacts of Aviation

20160509cpy.. The Magic of Green Marketing'

(click on image to view source/original article at UpperBlackEddy.us)

Airlines for America can spin all they want, to try and convince the world that the  negative impacts of air travel can be conveniently overlooked, but it does not change the reality: that aside from war and arson, air travel is the most intensive human activity today, for the consumption of fossil fuels and the creation of greenhouse gasses. Always, these examples of greenwashing are aimed at helping people justify more consumption while ignoring the consequences of that consumption. But, our planet is finite. We simply cannot afford to continue these Ponzi schemes that say, we do better and better if we consume more and more. More consumption is now proving to mean more destruction.

Stepping above the debate and denialism, if the global warming and climate change issues are as dangerous as they conceivably are, and given that the impacts appear to be rapidly accelerating, it will do us no good to allow our planet to be destroyed. Do we really want to come to a day, perhaps to be lived by our babies born today, when a few rockets will launch in a vain attempt to save the human species?

If those rockets send our most politically powerful elites, will the species have a chance by sustaining the genepool of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

Someday, if these rockets send off our most politically powerful elites, will the species have a chance … by sustaining the genepools and characters of people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? (click on image to view source tweet by FAA, about a recent commercial rocket launch)

Pennsylvania to Vote in Primaries This Tuesday

(click on image to view tweet with short video clip)

(click on image to view tweet with short video clip)

20121105pic.. Flooding at KLGA post, Delta jetbridge

Flooding at La Guardia Airport caused by Hurricane Sandy, in 2012.

Today is the last Sunday before the presidential primaries in five key states, including Pennsylvania. I ran across a tweet with a short video clip at a Bernie Sanders rally, and a speaker noting that climate change will cause the airport at Philadelphia to become flooded. I have thoroughly studied airports across the nation, and have blogged before about flooding risks impacting Florida as well as LaGuardia and other major airports. But, until hearing this Bernie 2016 speaker, I had always assumed the Philly airport was at a safer and higher elevation. So, I looked up the data; the speaker was absolutely correct.
The major hub airport at Philadelphia [KPHL] is on the north bank of the Delaware River, not far from the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. A look at the Airport Diagram shows that all four KPHL runways are very vulnerable to flooding; low points on each of the four runways are between 8-ft MSL and 10-ft MSL. While FAA is spending billions to further overdevelop KPHL, we are ignoring the risks of flooding, which grow greater each year. All to subsidize airline profits and prop up wasteful airport programs and corrupt incumbent politicians.

(four low elevations marked with yellow boxes)

(four low elevations marked with yellow boxes)

Pennsylvania gets to vote in the primaries this week. We have endured too many decades of top-down control by the two major parties, and the balance continues to tip toward expanding the wealth gap, enriching elected officials (like the Clintons), all while a full-blown oligarchy is setting in. We need real and rational change, and it is more easily done now than later.

There is only one candidate who accepts the real threat to our planet caused by our excessive consumption of fossil fuels. There is only one candidate who is not beholden to money interests such as the fossil fuel industry, the Av-Gov complex, the banks, pharma, etc. There is only one candidate demanding an end to our corrupt ‘pay-to-play’ politics … demanding real reforms so we have effective governance that is transparent and accountable. That candidate is Bernie Sanders.

U.S. Aviation Impact Activists Can Learn a Lot by Looking at London’s Gatwick Hub

One of the oldest activist groups fighting to manage aviation impacts and preserve their local community is the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC.org.uk).  This group has been around since 1968. The website for GACC.org.uk is impressive, and well worth a look … especially for anyone near a U.S. airport searching for ways to reduce hub-related NextGen impacts.

A significant detail about Gatwick is that this airport operates using a single runway; thus, it’s closest stateside equivalent would be the San Diego International Airport [KSAN].

Gatwick is the second-busiest airport in the UK, behind Heathrow. And, as discussed in an earlier aiREFORM Post about Heathrow, the traffic intensity is amplified by airline hubbing, nearly all related to international and transatlantic flights. Management of environmental impacts is made worse by the fact that both Gatwick and Heathrow have been ‘privatized’, in schemes where private equity firms and other financial interests acquire the airports. This is problematic because it appears to further insulate all the stakeholders (airlines, airport authorities, and national regulators) from accountability, as they can now hide behind the idea that ‘investors abroad must be protected’. And so it is that in the UK, too, schemes such as the narrow repetitive NextGen-related routes are destroying neighborhoods while enhancing airline profits. [NOTE: the European equivalent of FAA’s ‘NextGen’ program is SESAR, which stands for Single European Sky ATM Research; click here to view a copy of the 152-page SESAR plan dated 3/30/2009, or click here to read a comparison of NextGen & SESAR in a 10/18/2011 presentation]

A frequent argument against expansion of both Gatwick [EGKK] and Heathrow [EGLL] is that the addition of any new runway(s) will only exacerbate a pre-existing economic disparity across regions of the UK. The conflict is between the ‘north’ and the ‘southeast’. Specifically, because the two largest UK airports are in the southeast, the potential job and economic benefits that airports allegedly create are not shared with regions to the north. Effectively, aviation is a parasitic form of economic development, advantaging one region while disadvantaging another region.

This is a problem in the U.S., too. That is to say, for every superHub airport being expanded even further beyond manageable traffic levels ([KATL], [KCLT], [KORD] are three examples), there are numerous other airports in decline, with billions in development costs going unused. All it takes is for the dominant airline to abandon a hub and, within a few years, the entire airport begins to look like an unmarketable brownfield. In the U.S., the most notable examples include: United at Cleveland [KCLE], American at St. Louis [KSTL], USAir at Pittsburgh [KPIT], and Delta at Cincinnati [KCVG] or Detroit [KDTW].

It is notable that aviation regulators such as FAA and NATS have a huge opportunity to resolve these problems. All it takes is the establishment of sound national policies that disincentivize hub overdevelopment. A more evenly distributed aviation system, imposed in the U.S. or UK (or both!), would yield these three substantial benefits:

  1. it would broaden dispersal of economic benefits;
  2. it would reduce and even eliminate noise and pollutant impacts by repetitive flights; and…
  3. it would greatly improve the so-called ‘customer experience’ that airline CEOs and A4A are increasingly talking about; i.e., it would reduce or eliminate connection hassles while also reducing total flight times for passengers!

For an indexed compilation of some key Gatwick-related documents, as copied from the GACC website, please see page two of this Post:

Greenland Ice Facing an Early Melt Season (and new records)

An interesting article by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), detailing this year’s extraordinarily warm arctic winter and accelerating Greenland melt rates.

20160412.. Unusually Early Greenland Melt (Danish Meteorological Institute, PolarPortal.dk)

(click on image to view article at polarportal.dk)

Given that the mainstream media (and the airlines and other industries that buy services from the media) continue to downplay and ignore these developments, here is a simple list of what this plausibly means re our planetary future:

  1. melting Greenland ice is creating a lens of cold fresh water, accumulating in the northern Atlantic; this is shunting the warm-water Gulf Stream, which backs up against the cold lens and is forced to dive under the cold fresh water.
  2. the result, in climate terms, is a developing configuration with an area of very warm water adjacent to an area of very cold water; this configuration tends to intensify weather patterns, creating a high frequency of weather events with stronger winds and larger rainfalls/flooding (sort of like turning up the heat under a tea kettle; water that had been warm but quiescent now starts to circulate and bubble).
  3. other climate change results include an intensified north-south flow of weather patterns that causes rapid temperature fluctuations from unseasonably warm to killing frosts; on a local level, this will potentially destroy trees and other perennial plants, while also reducing our ability to produce needed annual food crops.
  4. the ice melt from both Arctic and Antarctic regions will increase the volume of water in our oceans, which in turn will cause tens of meters of sea level rise; major cities (and airports) will be flooded, including: London, New York, Miami, Shanghai, Bangkok, Rome, Buenos Aires, and many more. Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced; extraordinary acreages of the most productive farmland will be lost.

The connection to aviation comes in these ways:

  • First, the evident root cause of this climate change is the collective (and excessive) consumption of fossil fuels by all of humanity.
  • Some forms of fossil fuel consumption are more necessary, while some are more discretionary. While heating homes and providing electricity are relatively ‘necessary’ across the globe, flying for business or pleasure is a very discretionary activity.
  • The per capita rate of fossil fuel consumption is not even close to level; while some populations consume almost no fossil fuels, other populations are ‘off the charts’ due to daily commutes, air travel, suburban sprawl, etc.
  • Aviation is extraordinarily dependent on fossil fuels, in that we are nowhere close to developing alternative energy sources that can efficiently power scheduled passenger or cargo flights.
  • there is no other common human activity that consumes fossil fuels – and generates CO2 and other pollutants – at a faster rate than does aviation. The per capita pollution rate is particularly intense for business jet (bizjet) operations. Instead of tax laws that incentivize acquisition and use of bizjets, we need tax laws that strongly disincentivize.
  • The conversion of farmlands from growing food to growing aviation biofuels is absurd, unjust, and ultimately undermines security across vast regions of the world.
  • The combustion of fossil fuels at higher altitudes is believed to create significant air pollutants, including soot that precipitates onto areas of polar ice, thus further accelerating ice melt and sea level rise.

See also:

Ask John Kerry to Advocate for an Aviation Emissions Cap

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has initiated a letter campaign, seeking to get U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to press for a global cap on international aviation emissions. Here is a screen-capture, linked to a WWF webpage with further info and a quick signup to join the letter campaign.

(click on image to view campaign webpage at WorldWildlife.org)

(click on image to view campaign webpage at WorldWildlife.org)

Fossil Fuel Campaign Contributions: ‘I Am So Sick’

On the campaign trail, candidate Hillary Clinton lost her cool in this quick exchange, caught on video:

citizen: “Thank you for tackling climate change. Will you act on your words and reject future fossil fuel money in your campaign?” 

20160331scp.. 'I am So SICK!'

Hillary: “I do not have… I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick… I AM SO SICK of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.”

Hillary then walks on, and resumes working the crowd.

20160331.. 'I'm the Greenpeace Activist who Asked HRC to Pledge rejecting FF money'(E.Resnick-Day, Greenpeace)

(click on image to view a PDF copy of the Greenpeace blog post)

The citizen was Eva Resnick-Day, and she followed up with a blog post about the incident. Eva is NOT affiliated with the Sanders campaign, but works for Greenpeace and is an activist for both democracy and climate action. Given the emerging reality of climate change, and also given the total reliance of aviation on FOSSIL FUELS, it is critical that our future political leaders can recognize the problems and initiate plans to fix the problems. It is also critical that our leaders guide us away from what appears to be a trend toward fascism dressed up as a self-serving ‘collaboration’ between bureaucrats, elected officials and corporate interests … such as we see with today’s matured ‘Av-Gov Complex’.

Hillary’s ‘I am so sick!’ reaction, and her evident intent to continue business as usual is simply unacceptable.


See also:
  • 4/1/2016 – copy of an email sent out by BernieSanders.com. Includes a link to a petition asking candidate Clinton to pledge to reject fossil fuel campaign donations.

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decaying to Record Lows

Slowly, the mainstream media is coming around to cease enabling denialism of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. An initial watermark was the revelation last year that Exxon Mobil had spent decades hiding research results and giving millions to entities that worked to seed doubt. A more recent watermark is found by simply looking at the Arctic sea ice decline. We reasonably assess polar sea ice decline in three ways: areal extent of the ice, thickness of the ice, and age-distribution of the ice. The latter two parameters are of course closely related.

Here are two graphics depicting the extraordinarily rapid destruction of the Arctic ice that has existed throughout human history, providing a stabilizing base for our weather patterns. The embedded video shows a time-lapse simulation of daily Arctic sea ice extent from September 2015 onward. The JPEG below compiles four images, at 8-year intervals from 1990 to 2014, showing the near-disappearance of all ice more than 2-years old.

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

Aviation, especially by residents of the most ‘advanced’ economies, makes a substantial contribution to this sea ice decline, both in generated greenhouse gasses and in dark soot that accumulates on the ice and then accelerates summer melting.

Research suggests that our continued excessive fossil fuel consumption is the root cause of this rapid polar ice decline and related phenomena of global warming, weather intensification, and regional instabilities. Further, that if trends continue, we will soon be urgently seeking ways to stop generating greenhouse gasses such as CO2. This distills down to a problem of hyper-consumption, and in solving the problem one of the easiest targets is aviation. So, perhaps in the next few years we might see a stiff carbon tax on all aviation fuels, to discourage excessive flying in all forms: commercial airline passengers, subsidized bizjets (for business, as well as for golf junkets), and even small plane recreational flying.


See also:
  • 2/21/2016 – What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?
  • 2/9/2016 – ICAO Announces New CO2 Rules … Their Proposal is All Hype & Offers Little Meaningful Progress
  • 7/24/2015 – Arctic Ice Melt on a Tear in Recent Weeks
  • 12/9/2014 – Oceans Will Rise more Quickly as Antarctic Ice Melt Accelerates
  • 10/9/2012 – Is Arctic ice melting faster than expected?

What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?

No Winter For the Arctic in 2016 — NASA Marks Hottest January Ever Recorded is a recent Post at RobertScribbler.com. As usual, the blogger does a considerable amount of research and presents some fascinating graphics. One graphic in this Post was particularly compelling:

20160221cpy.. chart showing 2016 2m temps north of 80N, plotted over 1980-2010 distribution

(This chart shows temperature distributions by date, based on NOAA data for the years 1980 through 2010. Note the gray bands related to temperature probabilities: a wide light gray band shows all values, a narrower medium gray band shows a 15-85% probability range, a narrower darker gray band shows a 30-70% probability range, and the thick black line shows the median value for 1980 through 2010. Data for the year 2016 is superimposed in red; notice how it plots far warmer than the median. The thin red box at the top, across the May-October portion of the curve, and the orange vertical lines were added by aiREFORM.)

The compelling part of this graphic is in the center: that thin, flat line at the top, during the summer months. It shows that, for a few months of the year, Arctic temperatures steady out right at the freezing point, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The thin/flat line also begs the question: why? And, a few follow-up questions, such as: will it always be this way, or will it eventually change, and how will those changes impact our environment across the planet?

The answers seem obvious, and troubling. On a hot day, if we get a beverage with ice, the temperature of that liquid hovers at freezing, so long as there remains at least a little ice in the water. When the ice is gone, though, the temperature of our refreshing liquid rapidly mimics the air temperature. So, the flat area at the top of this chart, generally for the 3-month period from June through August, shows almost zero temperature variation – just a steady 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears that the melting of Arctic ice provides a moderating effect, steadying air temperatures right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take away that ice and what will happen? There will no longer be a moderating effect. In fact, we reasonably should see a pair of short transition periods, in the Spring and Fall, when patterns of solar energy and air temperatures cause weeks of transition between ice and water. But, between these transition periods, when the ice is fully melted, the energy buffering related to daily water phase changes from liquid to solid and back to liquid is gone, so there can no longer be a moderating effect. And, additionally, it seems likely that the time-window during which Arctic temperatures can substantially exceed freezing will lengthen, spanning not just 3-months but eventually to even 7-months, from April through October.

How will this impact our environment? Logically, it means the entire hemisphere becomes at play in the weather system during the ice-free months. The stabilizing effect that has always existed, throughout the entire history of humankind, will be gone. Weather systems, needed to distribute energy excesses in equatorial regions, will now play out with greater intensity, higher frequency, and over the full distance from equator to pole. Longer seasons for hurricanes and tornadoes; stronger weather changes that can destroy crops and even kill perennials (forests, orchards, berries, grapes).

Big Oil and others, including the Av-Gov Complex, would like us all to believe otherwise: just keep on consuming, indeed consume even more per person; fly even more, and buy even more products shipped by air. And, they are getting lots of help from the captured agencies and bought-up elected officials in today’s corrupt system. But, then again, all of the Av-Gov Complex players do personally benefit when aviation impacts are maximized along with revenues and profits….


See also:
  • ‘How Far Can We Get Without Flying?’ – a Yes! Magazine article by Peter Kalmus, a JPL climate scientist, who doesn’t just quit flying, he also writes to help others who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Click here to view a scrollable PDF copy.

Arctic Sea Ice Setting Multiple New Record Lows in 2016

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), in Boulder, CO, updates a webpage each day, showing the measured sea ice extent for both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. The data is presented via a user-customizable chart, called the ‘Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph’. Here is a screen-cap of a recent chart, with additional content added by aiREFORM.com:20160218scp.. Peak date arctic sea ice extent

This chart shows daily Arctic sea ice extent for selected years (2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016) for the calendar window from approximately January 15th through March 26th each year. The  color-codes for the lines representing each year are noted in the index; the heavy black line (highest plot) represents an average for all years 1981-2010. The gray background band represents a range of +/-2 standard deviations for the 1981-2010 dataset.

For each calendar year, there is a date at which the peak Arctic sea ice extent is reached. Following that date, sea ice extent declines until reaching an annual cyclical bottom, typically in mid- to late- September. Vertical red lines have been added to help see the dates of peak sea ice extent. The ‘average’ date for peak ice, as suggested by the 1981-2010 average plot, is March 13th. Note that the peak for 2015 was the earliest on record: February 25th. Now, for this year, as of February 17th, the Arctic sea ice extent is 14.203 square kilometers. We are at an all-time low record, and nearly 2% below last year, when we had 14.469 square kilometers extent.

So far this year, the sea ice extent has set new records for three different time periods: January 3-9, February 2-6, and for the past week (starting on February 11). This data offers yet one more indicator suggesting that we are imposing very rapid and very significant warming onto our planet, with a consequence of accelerated polar ice melting.


See also: