Seattle airport, Washington

As I sit here in the airport, waiting to board my flight to Hawaii, I am thinking about the environmental cost of my journey. I went to theĀ Climate Care website to calculate the associated emissions. It tells me:

The total mileage flown is 5,348 Miles (for the return flight)
The resulting emissions are: 1.19 Tonnes of CO2
The cost to offset this CO2 will be 8.91

Interestingly, to travel the same distance by car gives the result:

Your emissions from this car are 2.81 Tonnes
The cost to offset this CO2 will be 21.06

This really surprised me, as the generally received wisdom is that air travel is substantially more damaging – or does this relate more to short-hop flights? Does it make a difference how full the flight is?

If I had managed to get to Hawaii this year by means of my original choice of transport – ocean rowboat – I would be interested to know what the environmental impact of that would have been. One friend, renowned for making controversial and politically incorrect pronouncements, suggested that my impact would actually be greater, because of all the extra food that I would need to eat to power my voyage – plus the carbon produced in the manufacture of my boat and all its equipment, and possibly the airmiles required to transport some of those items to the US.

This calculation is rather beyond the capabilities of the Carbon Calculator on the Climate Care site, but my feeling is that surely the row has to be lower impact. Even if the difference in marginal, hopefully by setting an example of environmental awareness, my voyage will have a positive impact overall.

But this is a difficult area – there is so much information and misinformation. If anybody can point me in the direction of an authoritative statement on carbon emissions of various forms of transport, I would be very interested.

Oops, better run. Time to catch my flight or else all this analysis will be purely academic!

P.S. Am taking Airborne vitamin C drink and Zicam with me to help combat the cold.

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