My compliments to Neven for setting up such a broad and helpful forum.
I hadn’t expected gems such as mea culpa. Sorry for the delay in reesponding but a bit of Life got in the way!
In response to the Artful Dodger’s point about equivalence of a diesel (driver only) Golf and a full Jumbo, I take the point in terms of CO2 produced but some say that CO2 released at high altitude is significantly more damaging: see the linkhttp://www.carbonindependent.org/sources_aviation.htm
from which an extract is:
“So for both aircraft, the emissions are around 90 kg CO2 per hour.
These CO2 emissions are generally into the high atmosphere, and this is thought to have a greater greenhouse effect than CO2 released at sea level. The emissions are therefore adjusted by multiplication by a factor of 2.00 (see 'Radiative forcing' below) to give 180 kg CO2 equivalent per hour.
Further allowance is needed for fossil fuel energy used in :
• extraction and transport of crude oil
• inefficiencies in refineries (around 7% )
• aircraft manufacture and maintenance, and staff training
• airport construction, maintenance, heating, lighting etc.
The CO2 emissions are therefore rounded up and the Carbon Independent calculator takes a values of 250 kg i.e. ¼ tonne CO2 equivalent per hour flying.”
This is based on average plane occupancy (65%) rather than full but it comes up with a figure of 250kg per 550 miles - much than a 65mpg (imperial) figure for my old Lupo which generates 120kg for the same 550 miles.
So flying is twice as damaging as a fairly frugal driver only car on 65% plane occupancy.
But a new Golf Blue Motion or Smart 2 diesel would perform rather better than my Lupo and best the full Jumbo I suspect.
But the challenges that are raised are I think a more general. How do we ourselves cut emissions? (And how do we get our Governments to level the playing field: charge flights properly and reduce the silly costs of inefficiently structured rail; but this later point refers to a different part of this web-site)
So reverting to the first.
The same kind of question arose on Animal Testing and scientists have adopted the three Rs: Reduce the tests on live animals, Restrict the tests so less tests are required due to cleverer maths and Refine the tests so they are less painful and damaging to the animals.
For recycling it is again Reduce Reuse and Recycle.
For travel maybe Reduce the number of trips/miles, Reassign the carbon by lift sharing and Replace the carbon with Bio as suggested by AD.
Skype video-calls may enable Reduce (but I expect you already do that),
Lift sharing seems to me the as-yet-relatively-unexploited opportunity. When I was a student many of us hitch-hiked and it was great. I had a lift in a Mustang from Lisbon to Madrid with the Canadian ambassador to Portugal and a ride from an MP in Luxembourg: happy times. But of course non-students don’t have the time and now both passengers and drivers are scared of the hitch-hiking scenario for not very good reasons I suspect…but it is dead. However, lift sharing could I think readily be enabled by websites created by keen beans such as Neven has done with this one to make a two or even three person/trip from Devon to Aberdeen easy to arrange and the “fear” of strangers could be mitigated if an “audit” trail of who went with who was retained by the website.
In such a situation (of you applying these three Rs – if the lift sharing was available) I feel sure you would earn much needed brownie points with your daughter as it is her generation and the following one which will pay the cost of our flights today. So she may then be more inclined to study at Exeter perhaps. (This may, however, be a triumph of hope over experience…it rather depends on your daughter I suppose).
Good luck, life ain’t easy. They say if it isn’t difficult it isn’t worth doing.