Serious efforts are on to improve the aviation climate. For a change, the modern-day airplanes’ earth-warming pollution trends must be arrested.
The plane and the green must co-exist
Between nearby air contaminating particles and ozone depleting substances, the aviation industry is also under fire. As our fears on environment condition suggest, today’s modern looking latest airplane terminals represent terminally ill centers of damaging public health and welfare as well as sources of other health hazards due to the fast deteriorating air and sound qualities. Although aviation today is a relatively small source of CO2 emissions, it is bound to become a major cause of global warming in the coming years.
Different exercises, less dependent on the colossal power density of kerosene, do tend to decarbonise air. Aviation’s endeavors to enhance its environmental performance are also appreciable. Be that as it may, available proof suggests that effective gains and overall development are not in harmony.
The Center for Biological Diversity Report found that by 2050, aircraft emissions are projected to more than triple. Unchecked, between 2016 and 2050 global aviation will generate an estimated 43 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. [- December 2015]
Thus, the aviation industry’s steeply rising emission contributions have been bothering the environmentalists.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. agency responsible for addressing international aircraft pollution, so far has failed to tackle aviation carbon emissions. Over the last 18 years, ICAO has rejected, in turn, efficiency standards, fuel taxes, emissions charges and global emissions trading.”
Airplane pollution can be reduced dramatically. There are various readily available, cost-effective technical measures that can prevent and avoid carbon pollution from new and existing airplanes.
The 2015 International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) report evaluating the top 20 transatlantic air carriers found a 51 percent gap in fuel efficiency between the top performers and the least-efficient airlines. The report highlights that technical improvements are an obvious and cost-effective ways to check aviation pollution. Technological and operational advancements and fuel efficiency are inextricably linked.
Despite the projected tripling of aviation emissions and the lack of any regulations, the aviation industry proclaims that it can attain its professed goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2020 by means of carbon offsets.
The Center for Biological Diversity protests this school of thought and says that offsets are very difficult to trace, verify and monitor. Aviation emissions standards must be built on technology-heavy provisions that will bring fuel-efficiency gains. ICAO’s standard for tackling carbon emissions is built on technology lags 8 to 12 years behind the technology curve. The ICAO carbon emission standards barely has any effect on the aviation industry’s ever-rising emissions curve.
Implementing standards that raise the performance of the less fuel-efficient airplanes is the need of the hour. It prevents rather than merely offsets carbon pollution. Offsets may have a role, but that comes later. First the efficiency has to be maximized through cost effective technological and operational measures.
2018 has already welcomed the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777. Their fuel efficiency and endurance have left everyone in an overwhelming sense of awe. (See: The world’s longest commercial flight)
The U.S. is by far the largest contributor to aircraft carbon pollution. Combined greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. aircraft are 7 times higher than aircraft greenhouse gas emissions from China, which itself ranks second in the world for aircraft emissions. The US, thus, bears a special responsibility to combat the problem.
The Lurking Danger
The purists opine that the degree of danger presented to the planet by the jet is second only to the Fukushima disaster. There is no possible way to make a jet aircraft safe. High altitude heat and carbon deposition is heavily fraught with peril.
The jet exhaust is a homogenic mixture of seriously dangerous chemicals like the acid forming agents, the synergenic compounds, and the nano particulates. There is not a single molecule of respirable carbon dioxide in jet exhaust. It also has oxides of nitrogen which rob the upper atmosphere of ozone.
The purists believe that the jet aircraft has become an obsolete concept. The jet engines are presumed to be the primary source of weather anomalies such as drought and severe storms. They pollute every cubic millimeter of the earth’s atmosphere with carcinogenic agents. It is time to call a halt to all jet traffic operations before it is too late. Time has come to embrace Helium based airships. The more, the better. At least for cargo based operations to start with.
The way forward.
Draconian political answers and complicated technological growths for an ecological emergency like this may not come overnight. Having said that, aviation should also not assume that it will always remain dear to the general public.
Reducing the menace due to airplane emissions is pivotal to the overall goal of climate summits. Unless the international community addresses this rapidly growing airplane pollution, the world will never be able to confront the climate crisis.