“Dawning of a new ice age” – meaning one without it
Ah, irony. Or unbelievable stupidity. Opinions differ. But check out that photo
The opening of a blue ice runway in Australia’s Antarctic territoryThe opening of the air link between Australia and Antarctica, decades after it was first imagined, is belated but timely.
The secrets held in the ice have never been more valuable to humanity, revealing the planet’s climate history and exposing the minutia of unfolding change. As the American writer Barry Lopez observed on his Antarctic journey, it has become “a place from which to take the measure of the planet”. this week opens the last true wilderness to a new era of scientific exploration.
The story has to be read to be believed – 20 to 30 flights during the summer season. I wonder if their first observations are “Gee, what a lot of con-trails Antarctica has. Ooh, the ice sure is melting fast down here.”
From the IPCC’s report on aviation and the global atmosphere, we learned that air travel makes a contribution to climate change well above the fuel it burns:
Averaging all types of aircraft of different age and trip length and aircraft capacity factors, each passenger-mile flown emits 0.566 pounds of carbon dioxide. This does not include two other important impacts of commercial aviation on climate. The first is that commercial aircraft emit nitrous oxides (NOx) and other pollutants at high altitudes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that such pollutants increase the climate impact of flying by a factor of at least 2.5 compared to the combustion of jet fuel alone. Second, air travel results in additional greenhouse-gas emissions from energy used in airport buildings, facilities, baggage systems, airport service vehicles, concession facilities, aircraft fueling, airport construction, and air navigation and safety operations.