Monday, April 13, 2009

Air Travel and Global Warming

AirAsia X, the Malaysia-based budget airlines, has added the Kuala Lumpur-London route. Now, with less than RM1,000, you can fly to UK, tour around the British capital, take a pilgrimage to Manchester, and meet up with Kikey Loo.

But wait a minute. Before you fly, you may want to find out the effects of air travel to global warming. Using the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) carbon emission calculator, I work out the carbon dioxide generated by a round trip flight to London. The amount is over 1.4 tonne!

I like travel, so are many other people on the blogosphere. Sadly, for any trip over 1,000 km, our options are limited. Air travel is a “necessary evil”. (I am sure environmentalists will blast me for this statement.)

Is there anything we can do? Boeing 787 Dreamliner, whose body is made of composite plastic, is able to cut fuel consumption by up to 20% compared to comparable aircrafts made using conventional technology. This should translate into lower level of air pollution. Airbus’s answer to Boeing 787 is A350.

Unfortunately, rollout of Boeing 787 has been delayed by logistic issues and workers’ strike. Even if this next-generation plane and A350 eventually take off, airlines are going to take decades to replace their fleets.

For medium-distance travel between 300km and 800km, I hope high speed train will be the alternative. Imagine a train that travels at over 300kph between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and the whole trip takes less than 2 hours... Unfortunately, the proposed high speed rail project by YTL Corp has been shelved.

Now you know combating global warming is nothing short of a Herculean task.

Boeing 787 (top) and Airbus A350 (bottom)

Related posts:
Beyond Earth Hour
Cool Biz

Air Conditioning and Global Warming


  1. Feel very much enlightened from reading your effect of airplane on environment calculation.

    Think I will take plane with a new sense of "guilt", though it won't stop me from having to take this "neccessity".

  2. I'm innocent from this guilt cos I haven't been on a plane for nearly 2 decades! :P

  3. There are others who believe that global warming is not caused by us - flying or other means of carbon-footprinting. It is believed that global warming is due to the solar activity in turn caused by evolution. So, bottomline is, humans have nothing to do with global warming though we can take steps to preserve the earth/environment.

    People who advocate saving the earth are flying around in their private jets. Go figure..

  4. Cycle to London la, can ah? :)

  5. i have no choice to take flight lo...
    if i were to travel by ship it would take like forever to reach...or maybe never =.=
    im innocent too...

  6. Happysurfer just said what I wanted to say. I want to tell the likes of Al Gore and Junichiro Koizumi they can't take airplanes, they can only swim over to Malaysia if they want to promote their agenda. Game?

  7. shingoI also will fly lah... but hopefully not so many business trips.

    kyhDon't laugh. Do you eat fruits air-freighted into this country?

    happysurfer, JLSo the over-hyped Earth Hour is useless?

    neoYeah, cycling is good for the earth, and your health ;)

    annantYou should swim, haha...

  8. I wouldn't go to that extreme however. I'm sure globally, that Earth Hour would have helped some.

  9. Then we don't have to travel lor! In other words..the technologies that human created are destroying earth! day...the earth will stood still!

  10. when u wanna come to London? I can be your free tour guide oh! :D

    when I go back Malaysia, I can not take flight mah?? :p

  11. happysurferFrom what I read, the earth will be cooler in the next decade. Then it will get warm again. There is a cycle.

    The cool cycle gives us a reprieve, but we need to prepare for the warm cycle.

    tekkausMaybe we need to live like cavemen?

    kikeyYou may take the Trans-Siberia rail to China, then sail home on ship :P

  12. 這叫有得必有失呱!

  13. @khengsiong
    What you said somehow proves there's no such thing as man-made global warming. I also read that the greatest heat trapper, in other words greenhouse gas, is actually water vapor and the atmosphere contains almost 97% water. In contrast CO2 content is only about 0.03%, so to say that CO2 is the culprit is actually quite far-fetched don't you think?

  14. 魔女很难做的抉择吧?

    JLOh... maybe I should add this...
    There are cool cycles and warm cycles. But if we look at larger scale, say 100 years, the temperature has risen.

  15. Well, I travel and I fly. Not that often, but I do. How am I supposed to visit family in France otherwise??? That said, we bused from Central America to Southern Argentina, so not guilty for that one!

    I think flying is great and useful. Everything pollutes these days... I'm being a bit cynical but I don't thik individual travel matters that much. Now, flying across the world for a two days meeting is stupid IMO, and all these G20 people who have just met in Europe...

  16. zhuWondering if the protesters of G20 also flew to London...

  17. That's why scientists should start inventing the "beam me up" technology used by Star Trek characters. I don't mind to be beamed to London in a few short seconds or minutes. Save time and all the hassle!