Aviation Blues

In the midst of all the talk of cheap flights, bad
airports and excessively stringent security checks, we seem to be forgetting another very important detail. No, it does not affect us as individuals; however it surely has long term consequences. What we have forgotten, or chosen to ignore, is the issue of aviation pollution.

Complex chemical reactions occur when aviation fuel is burnt at high altitudes. Consequently aircraft emissions become nearly three times more damaging to the atmosphere than the carbon dioxide from ground transport, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The environmental impact of air travel could triple in the next thirty years. That is truly an alarming detail.

Nevertheless, it is a bit promising to see that some awareness about these giant polluting hulls is being created. All is not lost. Recently, steps have been taken in various parts of the world to reduce carbon emissions by half. But it still needs to be noticed that even if concrete steps are taken, the projections show that it might take another fifteen years or so before we can achieve lesser pollution by these airlines. Aircraft manufacturers, airlines and airports across the world have been looking for ways to bring about environmental improvement as well as gain some economic benefit.

One of the suggested steps to reduce aviation pollution has been to enhance aviation fuel efficiency. This can be done by reducing the number of planes circling the airports as they wait to land. This, it is said, can slash millions of tonnes of carbon emissions. Raising taxes has also been suggested. However, for the common man, already bearing the brunt of inflation, this could be a rude shock to his pocket.

Some airline firms have also been quick to rubbish all such claims of aviation pollution. As reported by The Guardian in one article, “The usual cocktail of nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and hydrocarbons swirling around Britain’s airports has just been augmented by a strong whiff of indignation.” Some companies have been arguing that air travel is not the major source of both air and noise pollution. And they apparently have scientific facts to back them up, but then science can be made prove anything, right?

The fact of the matter is that whatever convenience and profits air travel may bring, its impact on the environment just cannot be ignored. Concrete steps must be taken by the aviation industry as well to combat the problem of pollution and carbon emission. It is truly, the need of the hour.

Shravya Jain

[Image Source:http://flickr.com/photos/sarahkim/2422820984/]