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wanderer

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Flying
« on: February 25, 2014, 04:56:00 PM »
I will fly at least twice this year, once for a job, once for holidays... of course I have a bad conscience about it (especially the "flight for fun").

I will compensate the CO2 - but I know it's just for my conscience - how do you cope with flying, although you are aware you are doing one of the worst things that you could do to the arctic ice on a personal level?
I tell myself that it really won't matter if I am flying or not, because as long as flights are this cheap, someone else will fly instead of me. Maybe that's just a foolish lie to myself,
I am the first to vote or sign for ten times more expensive flight tickets - but am unconvinced that a personal "abstinence" would change the world.
In other areas it's easier for me - I don't drive, I am pretty much eating local, seasonal and I am a vegetarian, but I don't think that one of those things is really making a difference, as long as our industries aren't under a "clean" controll and at least since I'm eating local, no food has to be flown in for me.

What do you think? Silly excuse or just normal way of living? (I guess we all make compromises) It all ends with the question, if a change on an individual level can compensate our wrong economy and politics?

Bruce Steele

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Re: Flying
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 06:04:28 PM »
Flying is emblematic , it is one of those things you can cut back on, for anyone trying to reduce their share of this mess. Getting your total Co2 footprint down to a goal of one ton is a more challenging undertaking. If you need to start with the shared Co2 your government contributes for you the one ton goal becomes even more onerous. If every human in the world were to achieve the one ton goal it would mean we would double the total carbon emissions from current levels in 250 years instead of the 50 years it will more likely take.BAU. The oceans will still acidify , it will just take longer. Even at individual emissions of one ton each times 7 billion we will be producing Co2 at a rate that exceeds anything since the PETM.
 Flying to D.C. is  one of those things that always makes you wonder why you bothered when you get back home but if everyone with a conscience stops doing that who are we leaving as our defacto leaders? I just got an offer to take a nice expense  paid trip with some politics thrown in but I am going to pass. If that trip were one where I might have an influence on climate politics( however remote the possibility) should I also take a pass?
 Population control , and working very hard on the nuts and bolts of getting humans impacts to a minimum...maybe these things can only be achieved on an individual level. I am nowhere near a one ton goal, that in itself is an enormous challenge.When the arctic sea ice does take the summer off and the albedo switch really kicks in there will be billions of people developing a conscience and building appropriate houses, farming , and living small. We won't have a choice.   
     

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Flying
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 09:43:24 PM »
Flying to D.C. is  one of those things that always makes you wonder why you bothered when you get back home but if everyone with a conscience stops doing that who are we leaving as our defacto leaders? I just got an offer to take a nice expense  paid trip with some politics thrown in but I am going to pass. If that trip were one where I might have an influence on climate politics( however remote the possibility) should I also take a pass?

Although I haven't flown for several years (nor driven a car), I can't honestly say I would completely rule these activities out. Even though I know I am doing my bit to kill other people in doing so - as I see it the existing system is dead on its feet and in order to act effectively within that context in order to prepare for what comes next, it is logical to use all tools at my disposal - even those that are contributing to the ultimate problem.

Sure, I could retreat into the hills with only very basic things - and try to live a zero carbon existence on general principle - but I could achieve far less in doing so. I figure I might as well utilise the empowerment of the modern age (even as it kills us) to try to prepare for the next age. I know I can't rely upon anything from it long term - but short (or medium term if the decades left crowd is correct) term - I expect to need various things from it.

In that context - given that we know collapse is virtually inevitable - and most especially in the general absence of any co-ordinated activity or meaningful scope for improvement in carbon emissions - how important are our footprints now? Are they merely stands of principle that can soothe our consciences - or do they still offer meaningful hope and action for the future?

That said I absolutely applaud efforts such as your solar farming, and not only because it seems to me you're standing by your principles of cutting greenhouse gas emissions - but also because it could answer key questions that matter into the future (if sufficient other pieces were connected to your efforts in time).

So perhaps it depends. I couldn't say I think highly of frivolous addition to the problem we face, despite the fact that hundreds of millions (perhaps even billions) of people are still doing that without a second thought or care every minute of every day. However - if one could achieve some strategic advance in terms of the bigger picture while doing so - why not? You don't want a bow and arrow to defend against someone with an AK47 just because the former is sustainable and environmentally friendly, do you? You might want the primitive bow and arrow so you know how to make and use them for later though (when the ammo runs out and the weapons corrode and break).

Bruce Steele

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Re: Flying
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 10:32:36 PM »
Ccg, The challenge part is a nice motivator. When I am turning ground by hand and running my little tillers I can't expect guilt will remain a dependable inspiration. Setting a goal and a perimeter to be fossil fuel independent is working so far. The tractor is still getting used but there are places it isn't and I will be counting very carefully how well those fuel free areas produce.   Back to airplanes...  I will feel the calluses on my hands the next time I get on an airplane, and I will know my carbon footprint will exceed many, many days of hard labor. One flight would also exceed a whole years worth of fuel used on my farm< 55 gallons. Farm production +15,000 lbs vegetables sold . I need to prove something to myself and avoiding airplanes is the easy part. Actually maintaining the day in day out grind without really being dependent on the calories produced , that's a challenge. Maintaining the day in day out grind and knowing I would starve otherwise isn't something I have ever experienced. Maybe if my motivation begins to fail me I will try a little fast , to make things seem a bit more real. I am putting in some cover crop seed today and anticipating rain. Gotta get back to it.       

JimD

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Re: Flying
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 06:14:21 PM »
I have not been on a plane but 2 times since I retired in 05.  Both to fly from Virginia to visit my daughter in Phoenix.  But now we live 90 min drive from her and can drive to see our son in Calif.  I must admit that I really would like to make a last vacation to spend a couple of months in New Zealand but I am not at all sure that will ever happen.  The wife has been bringing up going to Hawaii and eventually Ireland.  I have no interest in either place really, but one or both will likely happen.  I actually hate flying and do not at all like to fly and spend a few days and then return.

My lifetime flying total is huge as my work required unbelievable amounts of flying.  Maybe 500-700 flights.  Probably somewhere near what a mid-career pilot has in hours in the air.  A bunch of near fatal events scattered amongst those flights does not increase my desire to get on a plane again either.

But like Bruce said we all have some responsibility for the emissions of our governments actions and for an American who had no personal emissions I am sure their share would still be a good 5 tons.  Civilization is just not sustainable. 

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Flying
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 07:08:39 PM »
JimD, Finding info on U.S. Military fuel use is a bit of a guessing game. Counting military/industrial emissions from both domestic and international sources would be a very interesting number. If first tier consumers added their international contributions of off shored manufacture of consumer goods plus their fair share of the military complex I am sure Americans would be back in the #1 spot for country emissions per citizen. A democracy can not operate long without a well informed public. So can you give me some tips on how you got to your U.S. 5 ton Co2 per capita from military? Do you think our per person share of military emissions has gone up even as the economy still seems to be in retreat? With all the damn wars since 9/11 I would think inevitably this must be so. Maybe the military has reached Hubert's peak before the rest of us. But I would like to hear from somebody who might have better intuition... No need to source.   

JimD

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Re: Flying
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 09:12:14 PM »
Bruce there was no rigor to the number I threw out.  Just Yaking.

But you prompted me to look up a few numbers from Wiki we have this.

In 2007 the US military used 30,000 Giga watt hours of electricity and 4.6 billion gallons of fuel a year.

From another article we have this

Quote
In fiscal year 2009, the DoD consumed 932 trillion Btu of site delivered energy at a cost of 13.3 billion dollars. Energy consumed per active duty military and civilian personal is 35 percent higher than the U.S. energy consumption per capita, which is amongst the highest in the world. While consuming that amount of energy, DoD emitted 73 million metric tons of CO2, corresponding to over 4 percent of the total emissions in USA.

The DoD accounts for less than 2 percent of the US energy consumption and more than 93 percent of the U.S. government energy consumption

...The DoD uses 360,000 barrels of oil each day. This amount makes the DoD the single largest oil consumer in the world. There are only 35 countries in the world consuming more oil than DoD. The U.S. Air Force is the largest oil consumer within the DoD services.

Less than half of DoD oil consumption occurs in the continental U.S., and the rest is consumed overseas. According to Sharon E. Burke, the Pentagon’s director of operational energy plans and programs, the Defense Logistics Agency delivers more than 170,000 barrels of oil each day to the war theaters, at a cost of $9.6 billion last year.


By those numbers alone each US person can add about 500 lbs to his carbon emissions responsibility.  Considering all the other country responsibilities we all share (like off shore manufacturing) I am sure there is a bunch more, but perhaps 5 tons is too high.  A couple of tons might be more reasonable.  What do you think?


We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Flying
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2014, 01:59:34 AM »
JimD, If the U.S.Airforce is the largest military user I guess we are still on topic, Flying. I looked around and found this source that claims U.S. military emissions at 172 million tons Co2.

http://www.environmentmagazine.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/July-August%202010/securing-foreign-oil-full.html

This only reinforces the guessing game part of getting a number. If we go with 172 million tons then every U.S. citizen shares over half a ton of Co2  just for their share of the military contribution. If you add other government uses you can see where it would be very difficult for U.S. citizen to ever get their share of emissions below one ton, it even makes a two ton personal goal very very difficult.
  I have no idea how much off shored emissions for consumer goods we americans are responsible for and maybe to get a proxy one might need to look for how much EU members have off shored .