Travel Bugs Eating the Ozone!

by Johanna Kato /
Johanna Kato's picture
May 05, 2008 / 1 comments

Does that travel bug of yours have you flying the friendly skies in search of new horizons? Well not only does that bug keep us itching for new adventures, but many disturbing studies also show that our travel bugs are eating away at our “good” ozone – that is: the ozone in the stratosphere, which shields us from harmful UV rays. The bad news doesn’t end there, either. While our air travel strips away that lower layer, we are actually CREATING harmful ozone in the upper troposphere, generating climate-changing greenhouse gases. But what are we to do?

The Ungreen Truth

*It takes an estimated 77 gallons of fuel for a person to fly from Los Angeles, CA to NY, NY. (PER PERSON!!! How many seats are there on the plane again???)

*There are upwards of 30,000 flights completed in the USA each day.

* A family of 4 on a Transatlantic flight to the USA creates more harmful emissions in their single flight than they do in an entire YEAR of their energy use.

* Even Airports are terrible for the environment! Taxiing, Idling, Takeoffs, and Landings are huge culprits of releasing ridiculous amounts of exhaust. The US Clean Air Act doesn’t enforce regulating this emissions release while the planes are still on the ground.
(In 1993 alone, 350 Million pounds of smog-producing chemicals were released by planes taking off & landing in the just in the USA.)

* It takes 10 gallons of crude oil to make just 1 gallon of jet fuel.

*Between 1999 and 2020, air travel in the USA alone is expected to increase by 85%.

*Before we even take to the air, simply deicing the planes creates between 200 Million to 600 Million Gallons of waste water each year.

What We Can Do

While facts are facts, there are things we can do to lighten our carbon footprint – even in the sky.

• Firstly, if you can choose between a train and a plane – choose the rails!

• Fly Nonstop – nonstop flights save both time & energy.

• Book flights with environmentally conscious airlines. British Airways and Southwest Airlines for example, both recycle all cabin waste and were first to offer electronic ticketing system-wide.

• Several organizations offer you ways to track your carbon footprint as well as offset your carbon emissions, including Terrapass. This type of organization provides an opportunity to get involved in reducing greenhouse gases. These organizations help you to consider the impacts of your choices, and each supports different environmentally progressive work such as renewable energy systems, solar power, wind power, watershed restoration, landfill gas capture, farm power (Help farmers capture and destroy methane!).

• Once you’ve arrived, support a hotel that supports the earth. Find one by checking out The Green Hotels Association, or by asking your choice hotel the tough questions yourself to see how they stack up.

Think Big. If you find yourself thinking that you’re just one person – “what difference could your little choices possibly make” – imagine if there was another like you – or 10, or 2,000, or 2 million… all doing their little piece to make things right. What then of your “small piece”? Remember: The sum is greater than the parts.

Apathy could be the greatest danger of all. Time to Make Change ~ even in the littlest green ways.


Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    16 years 1 month ago

    Johanna - what a fantastic article! Not only did it make me want to fly, but it made me think about flying green, which I never have. Thank you!


    Jessie Voigts


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