I hate flying…really I do. It sucks, I have long legs and they always get cramped into the tiny seat. They charge you for EVERYTHING now, the air smells funny, and inevitably I always get stuck next to some screaming little kid. But the part I hate most about flying is the actual flying part. The air pollution, the green house gasses produced, and the various other horrible effects on our planet.
Because I had to do this for my job, and because I tried and failed to get out of it, I am going to try and make it up to the planet by figuring out how much co2 I have pumped into the air, and find a way to prevent that much from going up in the future. At least then I will have negated my harmful impact by reducing my emission in the future.
So first figuring out how much co2 I produced.
I flew in a Airbus A320 200 from Boston to Phoenix, and then in another Airbus 320 200 from Phoenix to San Jose.
It looks from my admittadly poor information that the plane has a capacity of 5252 gallons of fuel. And from the Airbus website it looks like the max range for the plane is basically a trip from New York to LA (a pretty good approximation of my journey, even though I took 2 planes) so lets assume that they used all of it. They most likely burned less fuel, but because the co2 is pumped directly into the high atmosphere we can assume it is doing more damage, and thus if there was a couple gallons left un-burned this would make up for it.
So now we need to figure out how much of that co2 was “mine” There were 150 passengers on both flights (full plane). I had only one small carry on, and I am a pretty slim guy, so I didn’t use up as much of that fuel as some people…seriously people how long are you going to be where you are going? Do you really need to bring two hundred pounds of stuff with you…but I digress.
So 5252 gallons/150 passengers = 35 gallons per person. I am going to make the trip back so lets double that to 70 gallons of jet fuel.
Now we need to know how many pounds of co2 was in that 70 gallons of fuel. Jet fuel is basically kerosene, so lets find out how much co2 is in a gallon of kerosene. I found different numbers online but most where around 23 pounds of co2 per gallon.
so 70 gallons of fuel burned times 23 = 1610 pounds of co2…ouch.
So how will I avoid this much co2… one method would be to avoid burning fuel in the future. Because I don’t have my own jet I can leave in the garage I will instead endeavor to not drive my car (I know, I know, the shame…I have one, but it sits in the drive way most of the time).
So how many miles must I NOT drive my car to make up for this.
co2 in a gallon of gasoline = 19.4 pounds.
so 1610/19.4 = 83.9 gallons of gas I need to avoid being burned.
My car has a fuel tank of 17 gallons, so I need to avoid burning 5 tanks of gas…my car gets about 400 miles per tank, so I need to avoid driving 2000 miles.
Hmm thats a lot. I already ride my bike to everything, so in good faith I can’t claim the thousands of miles I ride my bike every year as “offset” miles because I wasn’t going to drive anyway. So not driving is not going to cut it.
In all honesty I ran the numbers for turning down the heat, for insulating my home, and for a lot of other things and it is going to take me YEARS to offset this amount of co2. I think most carbon offset programs are scams, and many of them are shady at best. I have slimmed down my carbon footprint to a pretty small level, and when I do something silly like fly across the entire country it really inflates it. I guess I should go out and plant a couple hundred trees, and or perhaps work to reduce someone else’s carbon footprint to make up for my own foolishness.
If you have any suggestions please do let me know.