Flying Will Get Worse, Thanks to Climate Change
Every year, air travel contributes more and more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, altering the world's climate. But we never stop to think about how climate change will affect air travel. Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading, is about to tell us.
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Flights are going to get longer and more expensive, all thanks to climate change.
Evidence has been brought forward by Paul Williams, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading. His study calculates how climate change might alter flight paths, hike up airfares, and make air travel altogether more terrible.
Aircraft contributed around 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013. It's a number that's just a drop in the hat compared to other emission sources, but climate change is a two-way street. Emissions affect the environment, and so the environment is shifting its patterns.
“The condensation trails that form behind high-altitude aircraft, or contrails, are one of the most visible signs of the human impact on the atmosphere,” NASA's Adam Voiland wrote.
“The impacts of aviation on climate change have long been recognized, but the impacts of climate change on aviation have only recently begun to emerge,” Williams wrote.
He used a climate model to see how atmospheric patterns from London to New York would change should CO2 in the atmosphere double. His climate simulation showed eastbound flights would become shorter, while westbound flights would become longer. But he says the two don't cancel each other out.
Over the course of a year, planes would add 2,000 hours to their air time, which would burn an extra 7.2 million gallons of jet fuel, resulting in $22 million more in operation costs. This would result in “70 million kg of carbon dioxide [emissions], which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 7,100 average British homes.”
Passengers may begin to see the signs in day-to-day travel as well. The warmer air at ground level makes it more difficult to take off, which may cause airlines to impose tighter weight restrictions. Those who fly will hardly notice the additional five minutes of extra airtime, but these five minutes add up over the course of a year. Flight delays will become more frequent.
The future of air travel will only become more grueling, thanks to climate change. Who knows; maybe this fact will help unite us. Or we'll just continue to blame the airlines.
“Everywhere I look there are opportunities to be addressing climate change and everywhere I look we are not doing it,” says Bill Nye.
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Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
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- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
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