Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Little Airline Attempt at Green Redemption

This is an interesting claim that it takes more energy to drive than to fly. No doubt the devil is in the details. And not all the details are clearly stated.

For example, I doubt if the associated costs of air travel are included: driving to the airport, building an airport and parking lot, handling baggage, training airline staff. Should the energy of manufacture of cars and airplanes be included? I am making it awfully complex, but pretty clearly the details favor the car.

It is also based on the average types of trips taken. Cars log most of their miles on short trips with single occupants. This is a worst-case scenario for cars (ridiculously so for airplanes. No-one flies to the corner store. Hardly anyone flies an airplane solo.) The conclusion that airplanes are a more efficient means of doing a car's transportation doesn't follow.

Even so, the progress is evocative. It prompts some interesting questions. How long does a trip need to be to make a plane more efficient? What if the car had two occupants? ...three? ...five? ...seven? How long can the trend continue?

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