What's climate change ruining today?

Okay, sure, jet travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions (this is situation where a small percentage is actually a really big number, fyi). So this is maybe more ironic than tragic, but it turns out that some scientists think changing climates could have an effect on air turbulence. Specifically, one model suggests it will increase the ferocity and frequency of surprise areas of turbulence that pilots can't see coming.


    1. I have. Though I’ll definitely cop to the fact that, because of my work, I fly way more than the average person. But here’s the thing, given that we live in a world where we don’t always have great options besides the things that are bad for the environment*, it’s reasonable to point out that something is bad for the environment even though it’s something you participate in. If it weren’t, we would all have to keep our mouths shut about everything. 

      *My job takes me to different cities around the country. The best option, environmentally speaking, would be to not go. But then I couldn’t do my job. Trains would be a decent compromise, but the US train system kind of blows if you’re not in the Northeast. I take it when I can (and frankly prefer it), but I can’t afford to spend three days getting from Minneapolis to Houston, for example. This is where the idea that energy change should be about individual choices kind of breaks down. You can only make your choices in the context of the infrastructure available to you. It’s the same reason I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to tsk-tsk somebody in Kansas City for having two cars and driving a lot. Sure, my husband and I get by with one in Minneapolis (and lots of people in New York don’t drive at all). But New York and Minneapolis also have infrastructure that Kansas City doesn’t have. If the choice is “I can save the planet or I can actually get to my job, see my friends, and participate in my community”, most people are going to kind of reasonably choose the latter. You have to change the infrastructure if you really want people to change. 

      1. It’s kind of ridiculous to focus on transporting people when there’s a much larger business of, for instance, transporting beef from beef-exporting countries to other beef-exporting countries. I thought that the horse meat scandal might have raised awareness of how much we ship millions of tons of stuff that we could just get locally, but no one seems to have keyed into that aspect.

      2. Is “because my job needs it” an excuse? Should you switch jobs to one that doesn’t need the travel? Doesn’t “Because I live somewhere where I need to do this thing that’s bad for the environment but if I lived somewhere else I wouldn’t have to” suggest that you should move?

        I’m not picking on you in particular. The same things come up for me. But everyone has their excuses. 

  1. So since I quit my old job and started working from home, I no longer do the daily 1 hour commute by car. But now instead, I fly over to see the client every month or two. So does this make me a better or worse polluter?

    1. Ha ha ha I expected you to say “I made $78,000 a day, click here to find out how!”

      I’m also reminded of an old Far Side (I think) where the pilots warn the passengers of “turbulence” – and then put the plane into a nose-dive while laughing uproariously.  The last panel: “Ut-oh!  I think I see some more…  turbulence!

    2. I honestly couldn’t say off the top of my head. I don’t know the math well enough. I’m sure my flights more than make up for the fact that I don’t drive to work on a daily basis. But I’ve never actually sat down and calculated it. 

  2. this reminds me of a Star Trek the Next Generation episode when the crew finds out from a pair of married scientists that warp drive is actually damaging the space time continuum. it was scary to watch the dismay in Picard’s face when he grapples with the fact that adventure is not innocent. perhaps that fear is relevant here too. 

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