Sweeping deregulation of the Airline industry in 1978 brought big changes to air travel. Lower prices, more routes, and consolidation of the market allowed for regional hub-and-spoke models of logistics and greater access to air travel with the associated massive surge in passengers. Now, with the current climate crisis and an industry responsible for 10% of US GHG emissions, we may be suffering from success.
What does the future hold for a business sensitive to many different climate factors? What is the responsibility we each have for our own transportation choices? Will carbon credits or fuel efficient technology save us? And what might we expect for the future of air travel? All this and more on Episode 78 - Grounded.
(This is an automatic transcript, we'll edit it to be correct soon!)
[0:06] I'm David Torcivia.
[0:08] I'm Daniel Forkner.
[0:10] And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment, and if we're unlucky the end of the world.
[0:20] But if we learn from all of this, maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken, but it doesn't have to be.
[0:33] In our Discord Community David there were some people chatting about the future of Transportation in a post-collapse world. And it got us thinking about the state of Transportation today but more specifically. Air travel and the obstacles to the continuation of air travel as we know it in the face of climate change in the face of environmental catastrophe so that's what today is.
[1:07] We might talk about the economic constraints to airfare going forward in the future and maybe what we all can do about it.
[1:15] I forgot to research the future of air travel.
[1:19] I think some people were talking about the zeppelins David.
[1:21] I have I have a little bit of that but knowledge I have Vasa Zeppelin bass to dreams field by a childhood consumed reading 21 balloons and the journeys of the century colonial list. Who tries to steal diamonds from the people Krakatoa Twenty-One balloons check it out you know get well read Daniel the year literary embarrassment. I'm not prepared to talk about the future of our jet fuel is air travel or not totally prepared.
[1:53] Will you said you had a lot of Dreams David what is your dream future for air travel.
[1:59] My dream future is that I and the pilot of a Zeppelin. And I have like some of my coolest Bros with me in the Zeppelin and we're all likes traveling the sky. And and M we have like a sustainable form on the roof of the Zeppelin and so it was all solar-powered baby were like solarpunk traveling across the sky and we have fucking giant harpoons, mounted on all the corners of this and my Zeppelin is black as coal except for this giant Jolly Rodger painted on the sides and I come up to others that blends and I have a harpoon them and I real them in and I make them either join my like Zeppelin Armada or I cast them down into the sea below it if I find them wanting, and if they're chill they just want to be a zeppelin air pirate I like I'll drive him somewhere drop them off. But the skies will be ruled by the people who truly want to be free and the domain of land below we will do our best to liberate them by dropping like pennies and stuff on people we don't like and attacking from the sky.
[3:01] Do you want to be an air pirate David you want to live in Freedom tell me, What's going at what's the gas inside the fuselage are not the fuselage but the you know that the big the flotation component of your Airship what's that gas.
[3:17] I know I know you want me to say hydrogen so it's easier for you to attack you with your rival Pirate game but I actually part of my plan is to commit a daring raid on the US strategic reserve of helium. And I siphon it out enough to fill my my Zeppelin with helium so I'm non-flammable so suck on that.
[3:37] Would it be fair then to say that your future dream is going to be powered by molecules of Freedom gaseous molecules of Freedom Dave.
[3:47] Cuz they're always trying to break free from these Earthly bonds that tie us down to this rock that is filled with so much suffering and we can't just like fly around like birds.
[3:57] Did you actually know that helium seeps out of the atmosphere slowly.
[4:02] Once once you're released it's gone forever if it doesn't find anything I have you even did just random stuff I'm not talking like balloons and stuff for birthday parties but I've got hard drives that have helium in them that's the new thing giving powered hard drives.
[4:15] Well all I know is two things number one I'll be one of the first to join you and your air pirate dream and number two now that we've lost all of our listeners maybe we should start the start the show.
[4:28] Start the actual show will it lets up bring this back down to earth.
[4:32] Yeah let's come back down to earth David and one of the aircraft maybe we can start talking about isn't aircraft that was actually grounded shortly after a number of problems that it had encountered cause a couple really tragic,
Max 8 [4:47] losses of life and that's the Boeing 737 Max 8.
[4:51] I'm sort of hesitant to even bring this up in this show Daniel because so much has been said about the 737 the next Dateline the as you said tragic loss of life that occurred of it. It's been in the news there's been lots of fear-mongering about it the entire 737 line people have been hesitant to fly those at all and. There's there's there's just so much stuff out there already I don't know why we need somebody else jumping onto this thing but there are a couple things that I think are important in the greater context of these larger systemic issues that we talked about on the show better really highlighted, any events leading up to these tragedies. Are there lots of different forces at play that are that are responsible ultimately most that responsibility does Fault on Boeing and the decisions that were made in their ways to operate their business.
[5:37] David I read up a little bit on this so let me just see if I can summarize you can correct me if I'm wrong but basically you have Airbus and you have Boeing, there's intense competition between these two a each one an increase their market share and bowling in this case had a new engine that it was very eager to get out as a product to get new customers grow its market share. And one of the planes that it put this engine on was the 7th through 7th but unfortunately, the engine was too big so they had to move it up and they had to move it forward, but in that process that change the way the plane flew so they had to install a bunch of software on there to accommodate for that so the pilots wouldn't think anything was different, but they did this so quickly they didn't properly train the pilots in their rush to get this new product out and squeeze some of that market share away from Airbus, and because people were not prepared to fly This Plane we had a few tragic events where these planes crash.
[6:38] Yeah that does moralistic just admit there's a couple points there just want to clarify a little bit cuz I think they are important to this larger story you are right the new Max 8 creation of the seven three seven at a very radically different engine they would shift of the entire flight profile of the aircraft.
[6:54] A typical scenario this would be considered almost entirely new aircraft he was that radically different than the traditional 737 that Pilots had gotten used to that have been trained on, and normally when you're doing something this traumatic the various regulatory bodies of the world the FAA, similar groups in other nations require you to basically redesignate the aircraft is something new so instead of say 737 this might become a 7 3/8, a new type of aircraft but that's problematic for bowling and for these Airlines. The airline industry in the aircraft industry as a whole has very low margin there's not a lot of money there to be made and there's a lot of money to be lost so anything that is high cost is it immediately look down on and if you have a new aircraft that doesn't do what does ignatian say 738-4737 then all those Pilots you have who are already trained to fly 747s would have to be retrained and high-cost with lots of times and simulators hundreds of hours of training in order to be certified to fly this new aircraft the seven three eight, and this also takes time for the certification process these it would dramatically delay how quickly they can get these aircraft shipped out and then sent to these Airlines so Boeing a pressured these regulatory bodies in order to get them to approve this as of type variant of the 737 so it's it's a 737 Max 8 and not a 7 3/8.
[8:18] But it did fly completely different right so how can I get away with not requiring the pilots to be retrained.
[8:23] Right so this is where Boeing starts getting clever and you alluded to this in this process they devised this software that basically sits in between the piles controls, and with the airplane is told to do and it modifies the flight profile of the max 8 aircraft so that the flies like a traditional 737 and it does this by buy a lot of tricky math that says okay you don't want to 737 normal model is going to fly in this way it's going to roll this way it's going to catch up easy, the aerodynamic flight profiles and we know what they are on a 737 Max 8 so we're just going to convert from one to the other so, as far as a pilot's concerned when the system is enabled as they picked up its down and increase the throttle whatever, it's going to behave identically to a traditional 737 and their training should carry over exactly this also control decisions in the way that they lay out the cockpit making sure it stayed more or less the same compared to the older aircraft, instead of modifying it for things that made more sense for this modified device of course, when you start getting clever like this like this is a great solution on paper but it gets more complicated when an engineering actually hits the metal.
[9:30] And you have these cases where a computer bug in this software that's converting from one profile to the other can cause huge problems, play my not behave in a way that the pile is typically used to the pilot might have not have any experience with this type of bug or or change in Behavior because they've never been trained on a Max 8 they might have never flown a maxi in their entire life just we're on the way to the airport to fly the next craft learn on the way that the volume ax8 today better brush up on what's different and read it out of a bind that they provided like this literally is what happens often times in the morning Allegiant Airlines.
[10:05] Because technically you don't need to retrain a pilot for Max 8 you just give him a binder you let me know ahead and here's what's different here's the different person sees here's what you need to know about M cast whatever. So this is this is the airline's trying to save money this is Boeing Business division saying well if we can have a aircraft that they can just swap in what has efficiency gains because of these new engine then everybody wins everyone's going to have a cheaper craft and I'll have to retrain anything we can get all the stuff out and it's a very clever Solution on paper from the business teams from the the engineering managers. Once again in reality you know when these things come push to shove this is not a safe way of conducting business it's not a safe thing for these aircraft and ultimately it's not safe for the customers which of the Airlines and ultimately the passengers each and every one of us to decide to fly on these crafts, I just decided the fly is Nasir the right thing because all the time can we buy a ticket we have no idea what aircraft were getting onto we just say oh this is the cheapest pair let's let's buy this.
[10:59] So it's interesting that you mention that from a business perspective this might have been a good decision on paper and it might have even worked out if they had implemented it better but, like you're missing what's sometimes what's best for business in the short-term comes at the expense of safety for customers or some kind of broader conception of sustainability in the long run and this is kind of what happened right Boeing took that bet that the benefits they could get from implementing this quickly, would translate into short-term market share gains and profit that would go above and beyond whatever cost they would incur later down the line from other repercussions of something that wasn't safe, and maybe their finest team is still trying to tally the numbers on that who knows how it will come out in the end but, but really David the airline industry has gone through massive.
[11:50] Deregulation over the past several decades it was in 1978 that Jimmy Carter signed a famous law passed by Congress that, really reshaped the airline industry in massive ways you know it's something I don't think a lot of people realize and maybe this is something we take for granted today, but in the early days of Aviation air travel is not really considered in business terms it was not a business so much as it was a public good right it was the infrastructure we used to Traverse the skies much in the same way that roads are the infrastructure we used to Traverse land and at the time before 1978 Airlines didn't even set their own ticket prices and they could not even determine their own Roots these were determined by something called the Civil Aeronautics board a government entity at least here in the United States. And that was all done away with when that law was signed in 1978.
[12:47] And the effects David were massive you had immediately Airlines having the ability to compete with each other on things like ticket prices, they could set up new routes this is what led to the hub-and-spoke method of air travel wear instead of going point-to-point the consolidation of the market allowed Airlines to invest in mass of airports that they could use as hubs bringing all their customers to the central location and then using smaller planes to go point to point, and this is really praised from a lot of people leaning towards the free-market ideologies as a watershed moment that really cracked open the airline industry in a loud, the broader public to access it.
[13:30] Imogen hub-and-spoke system Daniel and you didn't really go to details of that so much at War What alternative systems we might see, and I wanted to really talk about that in a moment because there's a lot of interesting conversations there from both in economic as well as an environmental standpoint. I wish is going to be the latter half of the shore we start really getting into the reason why we're talking about this on the show that's related to collapse you know what does air travel have to do with anything and then believe me we'll get to that it's not just the faulty aircraft falling out of the sky but before we get all that has deregulation stuff is really interesting because yes the airline industry did deregulate. It's often cited as one of these big successes of deregulation because you saw many more people able to fly than ever before as well as the fact that flights have stayed for the most part very safe and in this is Champion Essick yeah you know this is a great balance of regulation in terms of government coming in making sure that passenger safety is first and foremost but also allowing, these companies are trying to maximize their profit within the limits of still watching out for you know like we mentioned these passengers, no I guess that 737 Story the beginning of this episode sort of flies in direct contrast to that. Feel like you bringing up his deregulation stuff because you have some larger point that you really want to make what is the hope so.
[14:53] I never have a larger point I'm trying to make Dave I just like stating stating the facts you know. But I guess I guess the larger point I'm trying to make is you're absolutely right that this is still seeing to this day as a massive success story and I want to just talk briefly about why that is so I found an article by Fred Smith and Brayden Cox of, the library of economics and Liberty.
[15:14] Sounds very prestigious and not at all any logical.
[15:16] Of course is prestigious David Liberty is the engine of our Great Society right.
[15:24] Liberty is the engine of Liberation have you considered that you can't spell Liberation without Liberty.
[15:30] And Liberation is the twin-engine of positive change alright let's has come back down to two hours here.
Regulation [15:41] So they write in this article about how regulation was really good for everybody like you mentioned, because before Airlines could only compete on service right that's why you got things like grand pianos, in planes and stewardesses and flight attendant serving caviar but it was extremely expensive so only a limited number of people flew but once Airlines could compete on pricing and routes. The number of passengers between 1978 and the early 2000s more than doubled and so this was a massive increase in Access, I hear something they write about the ability for Airlines to lower cost in terms of labor quote, the regulated Airline monopolies received Returns on Capital that we're supposed to be reasonable comparable to what a company might expect to receive in a competitive market, but these returned factored in high-cost that often would not exist in a competitive market, for example the airline's unionized Workforce James generous salaries and inefficient work rules compared with what would be expected in a competitive market.
[16:46] And quote and I think it's important to hone in on what they said about how under regulation a company has to endure costs that they would not. Endure in a competitive market and the fact that pricing went down and travelers went up method this was a great thing for the industry, I just want to point out that, when you notice these arguments about why the free market is so good they tend to hone in on these like very limited variables that are always economic and nature right like this emphasis on price.
[17:17] I said yes this was this was great for us because prices went down miss making the assumption that regulation is bad because everyone wants low prices, what this ignores is the fact that regulation is never in the business so to speak of making companies. More money it's never in the business of making business itself more efficient especially if we're talking about in an environmental context the purpose of Regulation is to add cost that businesses are otherwise ignoring if you want to regulate a Lumber Company by restricting the number of trees that can cut down of course that will raise the prices and of course that will limit the access to Lumber, from customers because that's the whole point the whole point is to preserve our natural Woodlands. And so I don't really want to argue here whether or not regulation was good or bad for business the point want to bring here is that those business considerations should be secondary. To our priorities for uninhabitable World among many other things and I so we brought up the hub-and-spoke model of air travel right and this is something that occurred because Airlines could consolidate they could invest large.
[18:38] A dependent and that dependents was on that flow of Travelers itself when you build something to scale like that the fixed cost go up so much that the only way to maintain it, is to ensure that the flow of goods the flow of customers the flow of capital coming in and out of that system never stops and in fact often has to accelerate to keep up with investor demand and growth on Capital right and this is a point that we made from episode 11 design deception about how factories that were built for wartime production required the reorienting of our entire economy because those factories had to keep running and after the war stopped. They had nothing to produce for so we had to reorient the economy to a consumption-based one so that they could keep running right, and so I guess what I'm trying to say David in a long round-about Radley type of way here is that for better or worse this deregulation created a system. That is dependent on high flows of traffic and without that high flows of traffic is very possible that the airline industry could collapse. And that's problematic David if as we discuss on this episode and as we discussed on the show Bradley. Systems like air travel are unsustainable. If the very systems that were building to large-scale end up destroying the environment upon which they ultimately depend.
[20:04] Then it becomes impossible to Simply scale back.
[20:08] Because once you build out these large systems that require these massive blows constantly you can't necessarily descale that back without really resulting in the collapse of the economic structure, and that just maybe the position we find Airlines in today.
[20:24] You brush up on a lot of points there Dental that I think are going to be more stealing by the end of this episode when we address the individual components, namely the economies of scale of why they depend upon that why we as the people of Earth can't survive without continued on the way it is now, and as we dress these environmental concerns as well as the economic things at Taco bit more about the economic nature of the industry as a whole this will all make more sense and in terms of what you just said but I just want to summarize a couple things here in, really drive home the fact that this is a really low margin industry.
[20:57] That please clean up my rambling David.
[20:59] I'm going to do it by just different ramblc this is a really incredibly low profit industry margins are very thin they have improved as, people got used to paying higher prices for tickets when jet fuel prices were high oil went back down they didn't adjust to take it so much and they're learning new ways all the time to nickel-and-dime us new digital Technologies enable them to price tickets in Waze that a we actually alluded to in one of these earlier episodes I can't remember which one now Daniel but they were talking about the digital surveillance that allows marketers to figure out exactly how much you willing to pay more stuff will airlines are really one of the big innovators in this industry and they know so much about you and they know where you're going when you need to get there and they are all sort of kind of but not really in terms of legal slippery loopholes, all working together with these these combined it ticketing companies and Technologies to make sure that you are paying, the most that you are willing to pay there by maximizing their own profit and then of course.
[22:02] This is where I would make my joke about airline food except there isn't any anymore, so I can't even do that but they nickel and dime Us in every single way possible oftentimes now I'm seeing things like a carry-on luggage even being charged to be on there with one free bag that you're allowed legally at least in the United States, you charge for everything if you want to like board earlier your charge for that if you want like to pick your seat your charge for that these Ultra low-cost carriers are really shaking up the industry by being able to pull these profit margins that these larger traditional Airlines like Delta can't and then put pricing pressure on those Airlines so they have to respond to their own strategies part of this is also pushed by this shifting strategy in the way that these airlines are running their own economies of scale and did you talk about the Hub and spoke system which is really important for these large major airlines Airlines like Delta, where you have these hubs and these subsidies to be major airports Atlanta Hartsfield jfk-lax you know these large airports that have international service have enough gates to allow these large Airlines to run hundreds of flights out of them a day and this is a very efficient way of doing things or it has been since they converted to this system what they were able to pick their own flights, Anna and passed after that deregulation bill but the alternative system to this which we looted to earlier is a point to point base system where instead of flying you know from Atlanta to Chicago and then to South Bend now I can just fly direct from South Bend to where I need to go.
[23:31] And the ultra low-cost carriers this is companies like Alaskan Airlines like Spirit Airlines they figured out ways, to maximize their profit in one of these major ways is this ship to a point-to-point model they have smaller aircraft which have gotten far more efficient because of Innovations like, Ian cast technology that ultimately Doom this Max 8 but also made it a much more efficient aircraft if they were able to operate at even lower prices than they would have normally before. And was also important. This is the range of these new aircraft is much larger than their crap they're available in the 70s and 80s they're smaller but they can still travel internationally if they're press to so it really is shaking up the airline industry Airbus. Big on the Hub and spoke with air A380 that giant double decker massivecraft I could only fly into a couple airports worldwide. Bubbly shifted their perspective more to this point point system and we're releasing a battle of these Technologies right now consumers at the current time are winning if you're talking about just their wallets because there's more flights available than ever before there's more direct flights available than ever before cuz we really love not having to have layovers but environmentally the question remains you know are we winning at all and any of this. And obviously as listeners of the show and hearing is having rambled on about Airlines even before this episode you know the answer to that is absolutely no.
[24:56] Technically a point-to-point base system is more efficient from an environmental perspective because, you have flights are flying direct from one place to another instead of this extra fighting between you know it's a hypotenuse of a triangle into the two sides to this list total flight time, which is good for fuel which means it's good for CO2 emissions which is means it's good for CO2 effect of emissions when we packed and ready to forcing which we'll talk about the moment. This also means that we're more likely to fly in the first place in order to sustain these large cutting his heel necessary to make both of these models. And that is where we run into this this jevons Paradox things are you familiar with jevons Paradox Daniel.
[25:39] The great jevin had a paradox he said he'll do I fly my plane or do I fly my pirate Zeppelin and he couldn't decide which and that's where the name comes from.
[25:53] There would be no Paradox the obvious choice is the Pirates at 1.
[25:57] But he was late for a meeting you see so.
[26:01] Is late for meeting oh no he should have should have telekinetic.
[26:04] That is so that was a paradox is he really needed to get somewhere but he wanted to be in his Pirates.
[26:09] So he ended up not traveling at all which is the greatest Paradox of anyway. Jevons Paradox is a very quickly summarizes the basically the idea that as we increase efficiency and we're consuming less of a resource, often times that means we increase the demand for this product whatever it is in this case airline flights, and end up consuming more of the product that we were saving them before so the put this exactly in terms of airline flights if we make fuel use more efficient of his airplanes so we can, you know when some say 30% less fuel than we were before, then that's going to enable us to charge less for these tickets because we don't have this fixed cost we can reduce it that's going to increase demand, and then as we increase demand more people are going to want to fly and ultimately that means we're going to be supplying more flights and we end up using more of this original resource jet fuel than we were before the efficiencies, and this is really been an idea that has defined, and not just the airline industry but really A lot of these energy use areas but button really see it spectacularly in the airline world as flight become more accessible more people fly we consume more resources to even though we have more efficient aircraft all the time, or actually burning more fuel and polluting more CO2 than any time before. I realize I realize that this boy Daniel I'm very far off from your red but I feel like this is the direction I want to take the shell so.
[27:33] What are we had to pause because I jevons Paradox I never heard of that before but this is a concept that I actually did want to talk about I'm so we can transition to climate change but real quick before we do that. I just want to point out a little tidbit of History here so prior to this 1978 deregulation act there's actually quite a number of Airlines who were against it and one of those believe it or not was Delta. So Delta put out a newspaper ad called Airline deregulation and deregulation is in quotation marks and it says wolf in sheep's clothing.
[28:11] Part of it reads Quote The issue is will our nation system of commercial Aviation survive as a vital private-sector industry serving the public interest believe it or not that survival could very well be in doubt. To be certain the patient the airline industry is anything but ill. Nonetheless it is being dealt a dose of Airline deregulation Medicine by its in this is in quotation marks as well, friendly deregulation doctor's friends like that the airlines don't need because the medicine might just kill the patient. And they go on to say this pamphlet or add that it this deregulation occurs would quote, very well result in concentrating the airline industry in the hands of only a few carriers and of causing service deterioration at smaller cities and in smaller markets, and of jeopardizing the financing of airport development among other problems in quote.
[29:13] And I just thought that was funny because today we think of Delta is being a major airline right it's one of the ones that got concentrated and operates a few hubs of its own, but I suppose at the time they were probably staring down the barrel of this impending Cutthroat competition and wondering if they were going to be one of the airlines to get swallowed up by a different one, it reminds me of the way. There's so many of our large companies operate today to write that is they love to talk about the merits of the free market at least in terms of their ability to.
[29:47] Exploit labor anywhere in for any wage but, besides that bill Lobby just as quick as anybody for regulations that make it harder or impossible for New Market entrants to compete with them, a couple weeks ago David and episode 76 self-made you were talking about John Deere the tractor company and how they encourage government to protect, they're monopolies by preventing their own customers, right nevermind hope companies from repairing the tractors they've already bought an Apple has been doing the same thing they've recently pressured Congress to protect their ability to void warranties for anyone that attempts to repair. The cell phone that they've paid for with their own money and this seems to be the strategy write gobble up market share as quickly as possible and then once you're on top, use your money and influence to write the laws that then secure your power will into the future but it's just funny looking at this ad from Delta.
[30:44] Back in the day you know, say naughty regulation is bad you know it's going to cost consolidation the market which by the way is exactly what happened they're kind of right in that respect and this, economies of scale form of Airline traffic that we have today actually did result in more congestion fewer service in some of the smaller markets so maybe they were onto something but. I guess they were one of the winners so but back-to-back to jevons Paradox David.
[31:12] I feel like we're bored ping pong around all over the place here Daniel or wear it once I can wear with deregulation they were at like I'm rambling about models of Airline systems in jevons Paradox somewhere back of deregulation.
[31:25] There's there's no cohesion to this outfit I'd be surprised if anyone is still with us.
[31:29] No there's a lot of turbulence so far in this episode so I'm going to stop right here. Andre direct us and focuses on what the people actually care about it would actually care about and that is the climate aspect of airline travel and we polluted to this a couple times throughout,
The Climate Crisis [31:45] is episode but climate change and being able to fly halfway around the world at a whim. Is inexorably linked obviously we're burning huge amounts of jet fuel, to fly in these giant metal tubes across the world and that has an effect on the environment if there's a lot of people who are flying all the time at any point if you look up at the sky.
[32:10] There are roughly 10,000 planes in the air at any one time any second. And those 10,000 planes are carrying almost 1.3 million people that's like it a whole City's worth of people constantly in the air 24 hours a day, obviously during peak time to tire there sometimes when it's lower butt, the idea that there's so much of our species in the air is unimaginable compared to Jeep in just a few decades ago so I'm incredible perspective with the fact that you can get in this airplane look down upon the Earth, I didn't did the views that you see is you look down upon this Earth should really be a sobering thing. Now that you know the same way that we look down at the Earth from space for the first time and we realize hey look at this it's all just like one place there's nothing separating us that doesn't need to be. Airplane should be that seen the fact but for some reason they're not and and we would send me at the worst possible experience where you like show up at the airport than you like digitally surveilled your face is attitude like a database somebody like probes you and likes and your hands were explosives you pick up your shoes take off your belt, put all your electronics in like 20 different boxes after waiting in line for like an hour it is the worst possible experience of the most magical thing that we can have unfortunately this magical thing is killing the Earth and once again I'm I'm going to go back to that, climate change Daniel let's talk about climate change.
[33:30] It's kind of a catch-22 right for the airline industry they. Globally a 1999 ipcc estimate put their contribution of greenhouse gas emissions at around 2%. That's now at least 2.5% and growing if you look at just the figure for the United States the EPA estimates that. The airline industry is responsible for 9% of all u.s. greenhouse gas emissions you mentioned radiative forcing and that possibly doubles the. Of that greenhouse gas contribution because the the fuel that the airplanes burn while they're in the air actually contributes to cloud form a.
[34:12] Let me just quickly celebrating forcing cuz you sound a little a lost without that GPS right there so, what is the burning fuel all the time you know you can your car are you burning fuel to get an airplane to burn if you'll but where you burn that pule turns out makes a difference, and it's better to burn it down here on the surface of the Earth then it is up in the sky and that's because of this thing Dennis talk now called radiative forcing.
[34:38] Although cargo ships actually make their own contrails so to speak.
[34:42] Yeah we did talk about Marine see clouds which are going to disappear in this great success for air pollution by 2022. What is actually going to warm up the Earth. To 2.5 degrees C because of the lack of a see clouds and nobody has realized this is happening in the ipcc reports or the people who pushed through this sulfur a bill.
[35:07] Wait David GPS come on what's radiative forcing.
[35:10] Okay yeah radiator for 6 sorry where you bring the fuel matters.
[35:14] Our flight path is all over the place.
[35:17] I know and so if you're flying up at altitude burning this fuel year, positing that carbon dioxide directly into the upper atmosphere and there is going to be doing the most. Effect in capturing the heat that's coming into the Earth and then you magnify this is back with the contrails and the the various aerosol effects of this the stuff coming out, so when you're creating these clouds is contrails sometimes they can have cooling effect sometimes they can warming effects it's actually very complicated and a disputed on which one is doing more more warming or more cooling from these clouds and you find different sources that suggest different things but what isn't in doubt is the fact that pumping is carbon dioxide directly into this place. Increases the the warming effect of is carbon dioxide because you know none is getting caught in the ocean and then is getting wrapped up and sequestered in trees nearby and stuff like that it's just direct Street in so the effect is that the carbon dioxide emitted at altitude here after the troposphere is, depending on the paper you reading 1.9 to 4.7 times more effective more more potent than typical and the ipcc has nail down that that number to somewhere in the 2s so about double send me some you doing one of those. Carbon footprint calculator to figure out how much carbon dioxide is emitted from your trip from Atlanta to New York.
[36:36] Most of them don't take into account radiative forcing some of them do they use different numbers for it, getting off the train up so you are under sell you but it's probably double when it says so if I think that I'm just meeting a half ton of carbon dioxide which again is it massive amount of carbon dioxide for, one person to admit and what is basically a couple of hours when many people who aren't Americans and it not much more than that in the entire year.
[37:01] That means my factive warming capability that I contributing to the global atmosphere is actually one ton of CO2 not just half. Which is why yeah sure Airline travels only 10% of the United States carbon dioxide emissions but the effect of warming of that is double.
[37:20] That would make it 20%.
[37:22] That's a significant source of warming and CO2 equivalent that we see it in terms of these larger climate change things and we can't just ignore airline travel, anymore we can't pretend that this is a convenience that we can keep if we want to get to NetZero by 2050 there's no plan for how to reach that, while maintaining air travel as it is without technology that magically pulls does carbon dioxide and sequester sit affordably without affecting airline tickets. That doesn't exist there is no plan for this will talk about carbon credits and stuff and.
[37:55] I'm also interested in how climate change is going to impact Airlines themselves they are on the one hand contributing to it and put it in this is what I meant by a catch-22. Because the very Act of flying the plane contributes to climate change in a significant way yet it also harms the ability for Airlines to continue that service in ways that they have in the past, princess we had that episode on heat and low temperatures themselves have a major impact on an airplane's ability to Simply get off the ground, the summer of 2017 for example was frustrating for a number of United States are passengers, a representative from American Airlines said the extraordinary heat was a wake-up call they had to cancel flights in Phoenix Arizona when are temperatures, got so high the flight manuals that Pilots are reading actually just assumed that they would never encounter temperatures over 118 degrees so they didn't know what to do so they cancel the flight.
[38:53] And another thing that comes along with heat is unpredictable thunderstorms and this is actually pretty interesting cuz when you think about the things that impede in airplanes ability to fly I think of things like tornadoes hurricanes right, but actually thunderstorms are pretty hazardous for flight soap in April 2017 down here in Atlanta David Delta had to cancel 3,000 flights during the very busy Spring Break season, and this is going to be problematic going for because thunderstorms typically are not predictable in the same way that hurricanes and blizzards are right they can come and go in a heartbeat and just an hour's notice and with a more predictable Blizzards for example Airlines can plan in advance and figure out logistical ways to reroute flights or maybe redirect their passengers but when it's unpredictable like that it can cause massive delays massive congestion. Like those 3,000 flights that were canceled the another thing is going to impact airports David are rising Seas we talked about that a couple times. 20 of Norway's 45 airports are exposed to sea level rise.
[39:57] I'm here in New York where we have three airports that are all going to be underwater within a few decades there is no no optimistic plan about this or what to do with it.
[40:10] No David America would not allow this to happen.
[40:13] Know it well.
[40:14] New York City is is America.
[40:17] We have talked about like building massive sea walls and stuff but it only really takes one storm to come in and and Sandy Level thing flood these these airports ruin to the substructure beneath the runway and then you make it so that these, NASA multibillion-dollar Investments that were currently investing in when putting billions of dollars into LaGuardia right now, will be nothing but just like beautiful giant parking lots at some point because it's not going to fly if you'll give me that pain right.
[40:45] I think we've already given too many pounds away this episode. You say New York has a challenge David but a Hong Kong actually has seen the coming Rising season they have responded they are underway right now on construction on a third Runway. Add it's only costing them 18 billion dollars right. It will include a a new Seawall that rises 21 ft above the ocean so.
[41:13] That's a lesson for the lip.
[41:14] But I guess one of the challenges here is that airports are kind of built where they're built on purpose it's not easy to expand that right you they're usually surrounded by very expensive real estate are runways are extremely long they're very big they take up a lot of land.
[41:28] Can you have to get longer as the temperature rises.
[41:30] That's right because that lift problem is air temperature increases the air becomes less dense so there's less lift for the wing so you either have to lighten the load of the aircraft or I need a longer Runway to pick up speed and this is problematic especially like if you're in New York City you don't have any land to build and what's interesting is that these changes in our Global Climate as a result of climate change are very unpredictable, and some subtle changes can have massive impact for example in Europe one of the things that threatens airports going into the future is he changing wind patterns Europe is going to be impacted in a major way by the changing Jetstream and many of their runways were oriented, based on historical very predictable wind patterns directions and speed and as winds change it can cause Crosswinds for some of their airports which make it difficult for certain planes to land right, do you have this Confluence of change that will be impacting air travel at the same time that demand is rising rapidly.
[42:33] Daniel going through all this stuff and just thinking about Airlines and air travel as a whole so much of it depends upon consistency being able to predict exactly all these things to manage these extremely complicated schedules and patterns and systems and infrastructure pieces all around the world and it's the only way, and we can keep this whole system. Blind fall asleep without falling apart at the seams and I mean how often just like like you mentioned a little storm will come through and it causes cascading effects around the world that might take days to fix, more similarly if there's a technical glitch a computer shuts down somebody gets hacked with Ransom with whatever it is these things can spiral and and spin out of control very rapidly and throw the entire world air travel, out of control intent typically this just means you know if you cancelled flights are some people can be met with the ways but as these things get worse and and larger, then who knows how this could Cascade it into not just inconveniences for customers but also larger systems affecting global trade in. And this is important because we as as we mentioned several times on the show before live in this I don't know what's golden island of stability in terms of the larger climate of the of the.
[43:41] Where we've had this very fortunate place that Civilization has evolved under these very narrow, very consistent stable climate systems and we've been able to predict and depend upon the fact that we can predict more or less what's going to happen the monsoon season always comes so you know, temperatures are going to get hot and cold over the course of a year but within a very narrow range But as time goes on and we put more and more energy into this global weather system we're finding that these extremes, are more extreme number fine not only that they're more extreme but they're happening more frequently and, dismiss throws all sources systems into chaos not just things that depend immediately on weather like air travel but also like we're seeing right now going on in the Midwest of the country that threw off the the corn planting for a couple weeks and they will know we are now approaching, before planting amount that was supposed to have for this time these things women like. And the ultimate Harvest is going to affected by that and then very quickly we see how these systems which are so intimately connected with each other can't star cascading out of control.
[44:43] I just going back to that have been spoke conception air travel that relationship is Amplified when we concentrate these systems,
Centralization & Shocks [44:52] across-the-board went all of our agriculture will it when I can major percent of our food comes from one region where we have Consolidated the entire agriculture into a, a particular industrial model when there are distractions there that reverberates in so many places. Which would not necessarily occur if the systems were playing out in a decentralized kind of local level and actually David there's a paper in nature that came out in 2015 that I want to just touch.
[45:32] Patterns of our environment have massive massive repercussions for economies and local people all over the world, but when they looked at the stated economic output of the globe as a whole we don't really see this nonlinear relationship so what's going on here so they kind of dug into this to try and figure out why this discrepancy exists. At what they find is that while it is still impossible to fully grasp the implications of climate change on our economy and ways of life all of our estimates up to this point are most likely way too low in terms of the effect the climate change will have on the global economy. When I guess I should name the paper it is. The article name is global nonlinear effect of temperature on economic production published in nature 2015 by Marshall Burke and others quote. Future adaptation mimics past adaptation unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global income is roughly 23% by 2100. Widening Global income inequality relative to scenarios without climate change in contrast to Prior estimates. Back to Global media and losses are many times larger than leading models indicate and quote.
[46:53] And the study was done looking at historical data of 166 countries between 1960 and 2010, again they try to highlight the discrepancy between what we see in localized areas in terms of the the catastrophe that is climate change versus what we see in the aggregate data here's an example from the paper quote. Numerous basic productive components of an economy display a highly nonlinear relationship with daily or hourly temperature, for example labor Supply labor productivity and crop yields all declined abruptly, Beyond temperature threshold located between 20 and 30 degrees C however it is unclear how these abrupt the client at the micro-level are reflected and coarser macro-level.
[47:43] And quotes and while they offered some possible explanations for why this discrepancy make says perhaps, while there are localized shock perhaps the overall economy elsewhere is doing fine and so it kind of just washes out the bad things that happened to some people while that might be true I think we have to keep in mind again David this is something we talked a lot about is that data itself is not neutral or we have all these economic indices around our world, the try to tell us how the economy is doing, but where that day to come from and what gets left out is decided by humans who are biased and who might be focusing on the economics at the expense, what occurring in our natural world again from the paper quote.
[48:27] Strong responses of output to temperature observe in Micro Data from wealthy countries are not apparent in existing macro studies. Wealthy populations actually are unaffected by temperature this could indicate that wealth and human-made capital are substitutes for natural capital in economic activity, resolving this apparent discrepancy us has Central implication for understanding the nature of sustainable development. And quill and I understand that's kind of a mouthful and this whole paper is. But that's an interesting thought they just said David that we might be substituting money for quote unquote natural Capital right and when I say natural Capital they just mean you know we're replacing the idea of breathable air. With the money that we accumulate we're counting for the money and not really accounting for the fact that we're giving up the natural environment to get. And we talked about this before the idea that gross domestic product or GDP which is the way our government's measure total economic output. Is a terrible it's a short-sighted and fallacious tool for measuring value when you consider what it is or or what it is not it's not hard to see how our economic indices can totally continue to show. Growth and profit while at the same time the world is collapsing.
[49:51] Write we here in the United States we represent Financial trading in our gross domestic product is so imagine I'm a company here in Atlanta or you're up in New York and I say you make money by trading Lumber, so you're profiting off of the destruction of some rainforest in South America, you're making a bunch of money this is revealed in the data of our economic productivity but oh no that rainforest that you were making profit off of is depleted and the local communities collapse and people are starving in the biodiversity is destroyed, and those cities around there are devastated.
[50:28] That's not reflected because at the end of the day you just buy lumber somewhere else instead of one Latin American country it's another Latin American countries and we will continue to show that our economy is improving and that data will be reflected even in global indices because at the local level of that Latin American country perhaps the well-being of those people are not accounted for in our financial profits and wealth accumulation so that's just an example of how we can continue to show economic growth while at the same time our environment is being destroyed, and so it goes back to this paper what the researchers then did is they ran a more robust analysis on economic productivity in those countries, and they try to, control4 economic shocks that might be common to all of these countries they try to account for country-specific anomalies like political policies, to try and get at the heart of economic productivity.
[51:22] And they found that as temperatures rise there is a maximum threshold after which economic productivity starts falling off a cliff in a very non-linear fashion.
[51:33] And it's very interesting what they write quote. We do not find the technological advances or the accumulation of wealth and experienced since 1960. Has fundamentally altered the relationship between productivity and temperature.
[51:50] Result using data from 1960 to 1989 and between 1990 and 2010 are nearly identical. We find only weak suggestive evidence that rich or populations are less vulnerable to warming. And no evidence that experience with high temperatures or technological advances since 1960 have altered the global response to temperature. This suggests that adaptation to climate change may be more difficult than previously believed and that the accumulation of wealth technology and experience might not substantially mitigate global economic losses during the century. And quote so so basically what they're riding David is that our ability to adapt to climate change has not changed. At all no technology that we have developed no experience with with how climate change impacts our economy none of that, has made us more resilient to it.
Limited Dreams [52:51] And now I want to play a very short audio clip from a guy and a man named Rod Badcock. Speaking on the tedx stage in New Zealand in 2017.
Rod Badcock: [53:06] Air transport is a special scrutiny. Currently its mission to grind by 75% since 1999 double the rest of the economy. The demand for Air transport keeps growing and it grows inexorably on an exponential rate. In fact the world economy and in particular the New Zealand economy relies on this Christ in New Zealand we have 12 billion dollars of international tourism 99% of which comes in by air. How to deliver that climate agreement that we might still maintaining that Christ and maintaining the economy. We must achieve a 30% Improvement in in the fuel efficiency of our aircraft business as usual is not an option. We're unlikely to gain that fuel efficiency from a jet engine we need a new technology.
[54:15] What do you think about that David.
[54:19] I'm trying to imagine how. Sad and like trapped in the status quo you have to be to say all that stuff for like we are facing catastrophe basically we have no choice we need to act and that action is a 30% increase in fuel efficiency. What a fucking lame-ass conclusion about all this stuff.
[54:41] Well I love how he says business as usual is not an option, and then he goes on to say yes so basically to maintain the business as usual growth of our economies that we depend on we need to improve fuel efficiency of aircraft. That is the very definition of business as usual, you know what I hear things like this sometimes David I feel like I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here right like this is a crazy world we live in and sometimes I like when will the practical joke just in when I was a child I really thought that, all the adults in the world all the scientist would like the smartest people and they had all the answers and I was going to grow up one day, and discover that you know someone had the keys and in solutions to all of the world's problems and then you listen to something like that you like well shit I guess because we don't have the answers and we're not even really trying.
[55:36] Yeah I know I think that's the really sad but but good way to put it and at Emmys 2019 that everybody knows that all the answers come from random white guys with podcast you should listen to anything we say.
[55:50] But to be honest though we're not really I mean we do offer like what can we do.
[55:54] We don't know we don't have any app.
[55:56] We don't have a.
[55:58] This is not a solution this is.
[56:00] This is there's no solution.
[56:02] A wake-up call.
[56:03] I want I want to jump in here the Daniel it and talk a little bit about business-as-usual on the way that it stands with the airline industry. And why it's just not going to happen we discussed earlier that airlines are significant source of carbon dioxide emissions. We are running out of time to hit that net zero point that the ipcc requires us to hit in order to stay in under 2 degrees Celsius so that way is a couple decades to get to Net Zero that means zero emissions as a human civilization and of course they don't think that's possible so instead we're going to have a carbon capture and sequestration technology which doesn't exist and which. It does exist is going to be fairly expensive on the trying to get to a couple hundred dollars per ton. Realistically the ipcc predicts in the 502 a couple thousand range.
[56:56] And wait a second let's go back to that that flight from New York to Atlanta, which isn't even at a tremendously long flight the round trip for that if I'm flying economy because obviously As you move up to larger seats you're basically taking a larger share the total fuel emissions so business and first-class consume more, for the same flight but it if I'm going to call me that that's 5 roughly tons round trip radiative forcing that's not one tons Brown tripping if I want a good flight for New York to Atlanta $250 if I get a really good deal typically more realistically Avenue paying 200, 50 maybe 300 if it's busy or season but if I add in that carbon cost. Now flying cost 500 to $600 for the same flight. And fighting is already luxury there's only about 40% of Americans who are some of the wealthiest people in the world who are going to fly annually, and the people who fly at all in their entire lives is not much bigger than that number so I was already luxury for the people who can afford it. And if we ratchet this up even more, then there's going to be very few people could afford to fly at all you're basically doubling the cost of most tickets that's that much less flights this is going to strangle the airline industry and the airline industry depends on this max volume that we see in order to survive and to be fair. Most of the profits that the airline the street make come for businesses I think it's some stats on this day.
[58:25] Right I think 75% of the profits that Airlines enjoy come from their business clients but it turns out the actual number of customers I think business Travelers represent only like 15% or so of total travel.
[58:40] And a lot of this is because of most of these tickets at these businesses are purchasing come so frequently as a last minute. We need to fly out these days we didn't know what time the meeting was going to be until a week or two out so we're purchasing last minute ticket which is more expensive correspondingly or maybe we're flying business class to make with my first class and and doesn't more profitable for the airlines. And even though most of the people on these flights aren't at least on paper there for business the often times, this is harder metric for the airlines to catch just because now so many people buy things in their own credit card and ultimately be reimbursed by their company for it so that this this actual metric is a little bit difficult to nail down. The business is really subsidizing most of our personal flights, what happens when the cost for these businesses to make these flights basically doubles is going to be less flights going on in the first place. Further as companies try and look green and people are better educated about the effects that flying has negatively on the environment they're going to be less like a dove travel so much further at teleconferencing products get better and better. Ultimately pressure to fly less and it said do these things remotely, and so what you're seeing is this triple pressure on businesses to stop lying so much as we become more conscious about climate change and surprising in these externalities that we haven't and as those profits go down we're at the same time seeing an increase in the cost that we as not business buyers are steam in the effect of these carbon credits that we now have to pay for.
[1:00:06] So we're going to flight last and that means this economy of scale that was once subsidizing the flights making them barely break even allowing them to profit off the additional business higher-margin tickets is now just totally falling apart at the seams, the airlines won't be able to fly or operate anywhere remotely the way they do now with even their razor-thin margins. It's going to have to be a totally different model if these planes in the Air Lines can exist at all. Unless of course you know we just ignore the environmental damage him just a pocket let's burn the Earth because we want to be able to fly and travel as quickly as possible.
[1:00:41] So what we're seeing here Daniel. I think it's actually really interesting in that if we start pricing in these externalities which is something that we're going to have to do ultimately, are we can see very quickly the effect that flying it doesn't make sense for people if you account for the damage you're doing to the Earth, we'll talk again about carbon credits and you can buy carbon credits now for your flights but they are basically scabs there's so dramatically under price compared to the actual cost of sequestering that carbon the entire carbon-credit economy that you can check that box and add on to your ticket price or some Airlines even say that they are off sending everything, I don't reply automatically built into the ticket price it's basically scam the people selling the sick that the credits from whatever projects are doing are scamming them the carbon credit certification programs are basically scans companies that turn around and sell these carbon credits are scans and ultimately people who purchase these are lying to themselves if there is if they're not totally you know maybe we'll get them the benefit of the doubt in their ignorance but these are like buying indulgences has from the Catholic Church during the. Of of the inquisition's we're like oh you know I've sinned you some money, I'm sorry for my sins you know these larger problems and pretending that it's fine when really your beer you're bucking up the Earth sorry I lost my way again.
[1:02:04] Well there's actually a movement a social movement that took shape in Sweden is spreading to other countries in which people actually shame those who fly on planes they call it flight shaming, and on the flip side of that is trained bragging so at least people are concerned about the environmental impact of flying on a plane, David you know you mentioned the way that business class people basically subsidize the rest of our tickets because, Airlines make so much and profit from them that they are then able to lower prices to attract more customers like us for those cheaper seats. And so you know like in my opinion and I think this is something we went back and forth on before the recording for the show. I love the idea of people waking up to this environmental problem even shaming people for replying is fine but I think there's a big difference between a working-class person, you know who clocks in and out everyday at an Amazon warehouse saves up as much money as she can and then purchases a plane ticket to go visit her parents or even taking much-needed vacation, there's a big difference between that person and someone who owns rental property makes a bunch of passive income and flies around the world to hike in some exotic place every other month.
[1:03:21] Or even know there's a lot of companies like you're mentioning that just fly there their employees around all the time. I got a business degree and so I still know some people who work in investment Banks and these, management consulting firms and they get blown around like crazy David do I know a guy who's been to like five different cities in the past couple months, I'm not even for work but his company will just pay for him to get a ticket anytime he wants go visit a city gives him money for food. And so while yes we should say look me as an individual I should not fly if I have an alternative choice. I think this question of air travel demand and climate change. Is really less about our individual choices then this broader system of Economic and justice.
[1:04:09] So yes of course that Management Consultant firm is contributing massively to this problem flying their employees around all over the place but also more than likely the work they actually do, could possibly contribute to this an environmental problem especially if they're helping businesses expand and new markets and the type of things they do. But I want to come back to this individual choice because I think there's something underlying are demand for air travel that is not addressed enough and that's how economic precarity has altered the way we live our lives. Which is how common is it to hear someone changing cities for a job how common is it to hear that work has, pulled someone away from their Hometown and then I work across the country or in a new country for the headquarters of the company that they work for. And this is something we take for granted in our modern society that your job just comes first right if your job takes you somewhere that's where you go.
[1:05:07] That reality is Created from the fact that we are all in a state of economic precarity where we don't have the security, to exist in the communities that we want right we can't just grow up in our hometowns live in the communities we were given and sustain Our Lives. Because the economy has forced us into this position where if we do not conform to the corporate models and that lifestyle we do not conform to the Market's conception of a good worker bee then we're not going to get fat we won't have a roof over our head and so for that reason culturally. We have a compensated for this precarity by placing our values and priorities in work and that has caused all of us to spread out. David you live in New York I live in Atlanta I have friends who live in cities that they were not born in they moved away from their family they were the first among their friends and family to even move to the city. And so is it any wonder that we want to travel is it any wonder that we want to go visit our family on Christmas that we need to get on a plane just to come back to our hometown. I used to work in the service industry a lot David I was a server at a couple different restaurants at a time.
[1:06:20] And so just in that line of work I met a lot of people who came from other countries was that was China or Indonesia, or South America and they came to this country to find work. And make a little bit of cash that they could then send back to their family. And so would I blame them for getting on an international flight to go home to visit the people that they've left. You think they want to be washing dishes in a restaurant in a foreign country so that they can give their daughter or their mother. Better quality of life I could not blame them for that and so I do agree, I see where this this flight Shane is coming from and I totally agree that we in our privileged, oppositions we do travel too much we do get on planes too quickly and without thinking and we should be more conscious of the carbon footprint but at the same time we need to recognize that the underlying economic structures have put us in positions where we depend on that and unlike the the tedx speaker who sang, you know we can't continue as business as usual but oh by the way we should just maintain the economy business as usual and just reduced fuel efficiency know we should, think of ways that we can improve the justice of our economic system such that people are not put in such desperate situations that they have to go halfway around the world just to hope for a better life.
[1:07:46] Will Daniel since you're bringing up shammy here I certainly don't want to shame, individuals the regular Joes like you and me who are flying and yeah I mean we shouldn't be doing it if we can but but you mentioned it's not productive necessarily to talk about it that way but there is one group of people that we absolutely can and should be shaming, those are people who are flying in their own private aircraft private jets and the like and then these are mostly Business Leaders who don't really have a need, do this outside of up proceed convenience and and luxury of course.
[1:08:18] But they are polluting a far outside of their per capita amount even more than the regular person so. These are people who are claiming that they're doing things for environmental reasons when my favorite in this category and one of my favorite, Target's on the shore for being a giant hypocrite is Elon Musk somebody who runs a company that is ostensibly about saving the Earth and that's something he talks about all the time this is the mission, and we are working on blah blah blah and he frequently commute to work, a g650er a very nice and very expensive gostream jet that burns hundreds of gallons of fuel per hour is one of the least efficient aircraft in the world that's not a military crafts. And he uses this often times to take flights as short as 20 minutes because you mostly just doesn't want to drive in LA traffic.
[1:09:08] He ends up saving it when you consider that text I'm driving to the airport to take off the dining whatever blah blah you don't maybe 20-30 minutes in a day or something that he could be doing work during this time anyway if you had a driver and actively making the world a far worse place in fact he's phone, quite frankly there's a great visualization somebody did I recently showed just how much Elon Musk in particular has flown for business but but almost every single fly he's taken he could have done, either using Alternative forms of Transport that are much more efficient are like his EV cars were taking traditional a large body aircraft, I with you and me and other libyans we may be doesn't want to rub shoulders with because he's absolutely in the latest and we see that in some of the projects that he suggest as solutions for public transportation.
[1:09:57] But him other Business Leaders people who are flying these private jets all around the world. I take pride in the fact that they burn all this fuel that they have this convenience to blah blah blah every single one of these crafts should be grounded, right now today immediately if we were serious about climate change we would do this action because there's no reason for people to do this they're taking something that we already have available that is easy simple air travel from one place to the other, duplicating it in a far less efficient far more prudent Way for their own convenience and luxury and there's no reason that should exist and of course yes you know, this would damage all the small airports that depend upon the hangar fees and flight fees for for these aircraft have utilize them but of course this once again illustrates how unsustainable the entire airline industry is depending upon the offset externalities of damaging the Earth in order to stay profitable in the first place just like every other industry you know this is something that's not profitable when you take into account all these ignored externalities, we should absolutely be shaming everyone who flies private. Absolutely no excuse for that and I see that is somebody who you know part of me wants a private pilot's license and and maybe one day you know I could do that on electracraft because, come on it's pretty cool to fly. People flying for business on these private jets that are so incredibly inefficient we should be shaming them we should be blocking them we should be you no damaging the sabotaging Meats crafts that is actually something that should be happening if we're choosing some of the shame but I digress.
[1:11:26] I want to Circle back real quick to that jevons Paradox that you came up with or I guess mr. Javon.
[1:11:33] Actually Gavin came up with.
[1:11:35] I was thinking about that concept after listening to that clip that I played earlier which is that I think there's this Insidious nature, to those types of narratives especially when they're coming from corporations which is that so many of the proponents of, technology and efficiency and even Renewables.
[1:11:56] The are presented by what are essentially comment who are selling us the false promise of saving the world. In exchange for public money for technology that benefits their business model. Meanwhile they continue to destroy the world this is something we touched on in our episode on recycling episode 66 trash talk. That the public is sold this narrative that. Businesses don't want to invest in clean technology they don't want to invest an efficient technology but we the public we force them to go green and that saves the world, when in reality. These businesses they have to invest in efficiency just to stay afloat because as resources become more scares you have to squeeze more and more out of what's remaining just to stay competitive, that's what the recycling industry largely exists to do, they provide manufacturers with cheaper input so that they can continue to grow production, that production which is the very thing that is driving global climate change and environmental destruction, so in the sentence the recycling industry in its current form actually accelerates environmental degradation and the same thing is going on here.
[1:13:14] This emphasis placed on fuel efficiency in better technology for airplane. Notice that that he did not say we need to curb demand for air travel he did not say we need to restructure our economies or scale back, Airline you did not say we need to, take airplanes out of commission so that we're not burning as much feeling you said we should invest in more fuel efficient plane engine which by the way, Airlines must do if they wish to remain profitable, in a future of rising fuel prices they have to do that regardless of whether it's coming from a place of wanting to be green so if we the public think that we can just give them public money. For our benefit we've got the whole thing backwards we're basically giving them free money so that they can compete, with other businesses make more profit and leave us with a world that uninhabitable. Alright David I think I'm going to take this plane and landed on the runway.
[1:14:17] Where else were you planning on landing at Daniel.
[1:14:19] Sometimes I think I can just keep on flying David and never touch ground.
[1:14:23] Ignore everything you say just like I've been doing for the past 20 minutes.
[1:14:29] Anyway David with my ramblings and your ramblings aside what is the future of air travel.
[1:14:37] How immediate future are we talkin and are we talkin stick or high in the sky. Because I think I open up with what I want to see is the future of air travel but. And maybe we will do it I think we should do a future travel thing at some point in didn't I want to get to with them I mean just briefly actually it in a moment here.
[1:14:58] And maybe we can have mr. jevin on the podcast.
[1:15:01] She's he's long dead. Very long dead but there is efficiency work being done that 30% figure that you were talking about Daniel what if I told you that people are working on 100% reduction in fuel use right now.
[1:15:17] I don't want to get my hopes up after you.
[1:15:20] Good you shouldn't be that they are working on it there are a number of companies starting up working on making electric aircraft it is a difficult problem and the Battery Technology just really isn't there right now solid state batteries should start coming out in the next year to Toyota just announced a big break through with that and as well as several other major battery manufacturers for are electrical vehicles but until the solid state batteries and more energy dense products eventually come down the line where to be very limited in terms of what is feasible, with these electric aircraft because gutters are heavy and I'm like fuel as you burn it the craft gets lighter increasing efficiency but once you've loaded the plane with batteries it's always going to weigh that much, and batteries are much less energy dense than jet fuel the types of engines that we use with these are much less, efficient than Jets so we're finding a lot of natural things right here to even get back up to the place that with these wide-body Ultra fishing aircraft that we have now. Can do in terms of converting energy into miles travel but there are several companies working on it with major investors back of him in both Airlines and aircraft companies are there's also work being put into hydrogen fuel based airplanes above the future ultimately hopefully will be Electric.
[1:16:40] Not only electric but the ways that we are designed these aircraft are very different because, white bodied electric aircraft are very far off Beach like you're some 3778 Seven Seas large air plants are used to but what will come out first our small craft that are maybe 10 20 30 people, doing very short point-to-point hops this is probably the immediate future of the airline industry 10 years from now. Where you buy tickets that won't be affected by oil prices won't be affected by carbon credits so much remember just because something doesn't burn fuel doesn't mean that it required fuel to be produced in that people must have been sleepy offset.
[1:17:18] That aside, these aircraft will be small electric sort of Business Jet looking things that makes small jumps 500 to 700 miles and if you are going longer than that point to point then you're going to be getting to this, new system which I don't think it even has a game yet it's not a central Hub based, it's not point to point but it's it's sort of the traveling salesman okay I'm going to fly from Atlanta to Chicago and Chicago to Houston and Houston to LAX, something like that so we're going to be doing lots of jumps are flights are going to be much more tedious and they were before, and the aircraft themselves are going to be slower but it will be smaller so maybe it'll be more luxurious that way. And as this technology improves they're planning on increasing the size of these aircraft so we can look forward eventually to Electric aircraft but that is a ways off right now the proof-of-concept are even flying at the moment this is still very much a design on a piece of paper in a computer. Ended the shorter-term future may be 5 years out there are several companies for making basically would have reticle takeoff and landing craft. Are these are the flying cars almost eight people have been talking about for decades at this point is just around the corner as he's basically our skilled of drones or Osprey like aircraft, many of them are electric some of them are hybrid-electric some of them are full conventional Fuel and the idea is that they're going to basically operators are taxis so they'll be safer than and helicopter, a cheaper to operate.
[1:18:46] Function basically the same you'll come to these basically heliport areas in a city hop onto a plane and fly you very short distances one of the routes that the talks about for example one of these startups is from New York to Boston. You'll pay more than a ticket to New York to Boston cost a conventional Airline say 202 and fifty bucks but you will have no wait, it'll take you from the city center to the city center you will have an airport traveling to the airport there won't be any lines or anything because this is outside of the regular jurisdiction that we see in these large airports and infrastructure that's required to support.
[1:19:20] So some people might find it very advantageous and we might go back actually Daniel to that regulations would have. A flying what we have smaller more luxurious, flights that you pay a lot more for but you do so because of the either the extreme convenience they offer or because you just wealthy that might be the future. Of course this could all change depending on various oil shocks we might see that nobody's flying to Mitchell Jets just because become too expensive. Let's Shell Oil starts getting tight and we don't get that much more oil barrel prices will go up blah blah blah I don't want to get into a peak oil thing here.
[1:19:55] Fact of the matter is the airline industry as we see it right now is not going to exist 20-30 years from now in my opinion. Not if we want to make any sort of sizeable impact on preventing climate change and we just throw our hands up and say will you know what fuck it there's nothing we can do and yeah okay we might be business as usual, we might still be able to have these few flights but back to the matter is, we live in a very brief anomaly in time where we were able to travel around the world very rapidly for very little money. And while there are a couple companies trying to get back to even more rapid travel there's notably a company called boom that is making a new supersonic passenger jet for a small number of people I think it's 30 to 50 that will fly International routes the same way the Concorde did which was a huge, Giant waste of money you can if it was really cool, he just couldn't find a good place in terms of business propositions and the accidents of sort of marred the brand. For most of us what the future holds either no travel in terms of Airlines or slow trap.
Slowdown [1:20:58] I don't want to dwell on this just for a moment Daniel hear the idea that maybe we don't need to rush everywhere. Any idea that we have to rush everywhere right now because of these economic forces that are push down on this I mean here in the United States what if you get a job you're lucky to have 20 days of vacation.
[1:21:17] A very lucky the rest of the world laughs at that you know it is in Germany a place offer do 20 days of vacation that's Criminal. People would laugh and turn away but here, in the freest country on Earth we spend our entire year basically working we have no time to ourselves and so that means when we do have time when we do organize when is chips when we saved up our vacation days accrued them to our years of hard work. Then we have to optimize it maximize it travels fast as we can to get. At the mixture our days are planned out that we can do everything we need to and then rush back and some get back to work the next day.
[1:21:54] Yeah that's true you know so I'm the type of person that like when I travel I love to not having a.
[1:22:10] But so often I get the response up yeah well that would be nice but when when I get one week a year I don't really have the luxury of taking that type of risk, because it can be risky right you don't always have the best experience you simply open yourself up to Serendipity Inn in the possibility of a unique experience you can never plan for, but you're absolutely right when you when you're on a Time budget maybe don't feel like that's worth the risk.
[1:22:36] Yeah well I mean I had a very similar experience growing up when I travel with my parents and but we really flew we would drive somewhere but it was always like a Breakneck Cannonball Run. Where my dad would drive like 11 or 13 hours to where it is we're going, we're like cranky and miserable the whole time we left at like 4 in the morning to avoid traffic but just like a straight drive we stopped every now and then for for bathroom breaks but there's no there's no sightseeing on the way because we have to get to our destination when we get there every day's itinerary. Okay but we're waking up at, 7 we can have a date so we get to the museum or whatever we Baba blah the entire thing was like bullet down and that's how I just thought everyone vacation a long time until I got older and I went on a vacation by myself or with the friends are like what are you doing. Why why you playing all this stuff are you rushing around and I was like wait you know what you're right, what am I doing and I asked him to relearn how to have a vacation for my non-american friends at teaching me this is the way that that most people see this this like much slower pace of Life vacation supposed to be relaxing not just filled with things.
[1:23:39] Yeah it is a very American conception of travel I actually knew somebody who, organized a group trip with their friends to go sightseeing Europe after graduating from the University they had a whole month or two and they still plan it out so they can get they hit a new city every single. A few days has who's like hit Paris been 2 days and then immediately go to a new city.
[1:24:05] What time is it it's not surprising that this happens because as Americans you know we're poor. I'm poor and we're physically poor even though we have all is well supposedly whatever it's tied up in this our rent our obligations are death that we carry around with us and so we don't have this free time or money to spend on these things that we would so we have to maximize them in order to get our most value out from what we see as as the way that this is how travel supposed to be done, and Airlines in this rapid form of travel I think really contributes to that any idea of slow travel of enjoying the journey as you did and you when you mentioned your stories about wandering around Europe, are these the Swedish people who enjoy the train ride which is still rapid to be fair it's much more so in Europe than it is here in the US or train delays are frequent on Amtrak or whatever.
[1:24:55] The book is Dan is it is not just on trying to get there as fast as possible but enjoying this part of the journey itself that becomes part of the larger trip, when I fly somewhere I don't think of that as part of my vacation I think that is a tedious chore that has to be done to get where it goes but if I'm on a road trip. Even Americans will say yeah road trip that's that's the journey itself that's the fun part. And you stop places and you see things but the actual is sitting in the car and driving can be part of that enjoyable things. As we move forward into a more and more energy conscious future where we realize we don't have endless stores of energy that can just be burned without consequences endangering all the life on this Earth, I think we really need to come to terms with the way that we travel the way that we see this instant gratification around every component of a world needs to change as well. We need to focus on this lower world where the journey itself because it's going to be a large portion of our vacation has to be part of the enjoyable component so that's why these Zeppelin's would maybe you can only travel 70 or 80 miles per hour, non-stop of course weather permitting and that is a big problem with Zeppelins I will admit. But that allows us to enjoy the process may be for international travel in the future we won't be flying but instead taking ships, where maybe it's a week or two or three to get across the ocean. Maybe this ships even have sale so it takes longer than that I mean people do that now for cruises and they pay for that privilege.
[1:26:23] Yeah that's a good point.
[1:26:25] Evening cruise ships themselves are extremely polluting and problematic and we talked a little bit about that with the labor problems that happen on them. I don't want to encourage everyone to take cruises because that is absolutely not the right message to take from this.
[1:26:39] Yeah we talked about that and Logistics of slave for you.
[1:26:42] Yeah exactly but slow travel I mean this really is something that we need to come to terms with where the journey is the enjoyable part. And we get to destination to enjoy that but the actual process of getting there is just as if not more important and that's the kind of cultural shift we're going to have to see if we want to tackle this larger climate change problems associated with. Air travel, and it's also carries over to businesses as well we can't just say even though we have this heavily globalized International world where I need to be able to travel over to have meetings and whatever, maybe it shouldn't be like that maybe if we discourage how easy it is to fly someone had this meeting to exploit International labor or to explain differently Reven within that your own domestic country. Then we can encourage these local Industries to form up and then be more self-sufficient more decentralized in the same process and ultimately more sustainable because of that because we're not depending on the exploitation of resources and labor from other places where we can strip mine them until they're dry and empty and then husky what they were before, but instead focus on building actual communities all around the world that focus on the local needs, and if we just focusing and local needs we don't have access to Surly everything we might want but that might be just what we need in order not to consume more than we should.
[1:28:00] And I really think this Grandeur we thinking that are travel has enabled us the idea that the world is at our fingertips it's been part of the huge problem, in our exploitation of that world and don't think it's any coincidence, Betty explosion in resource use in pollution in carbon dioxide emissions correlates very closely with explosion in air tram. So if there's one thing I really wanted me to take away from this has slowed down.
[1:28:26] I think that's a really beautiful way to put it like putting the imagination back in travel. Especially because I think it is a little bit problematic when we walk around in this earth. Pointing fingers at people and I know I have to clarify this because again that's kind of what we do on the show and I'm all for that you know name and shame, before our own mental health it wouldn't hurt every now and then to instead take a step back and imagine what a better world might be and then encourage people to think along the same lines as opposed to, and I'm speaking to myself here instead of just telling people how you know you take that flight you're destroying the world maybe you shouldn't do that, instead I absolutely agree we should focus on will imagine what travel could be like if we work together to create an environment where, we all enjoy that slow travel and are okay with not having the same access to the cheap flights that were used to.
[1:29:19] Exactly there's one image I think I want to leave everyone with because you might try and communicate some of these ideas to your friends to your family who aren't MythBusters Ilias is aware of the stuffing restore talk about ready to forcing and tons of carbon dioxide people's eyes glaze over it and nobody wants to hear or see that or whatever. I want to give you a very visual representation of what exact damage you're doing when you take one of these flights or when you decide to drive a long distance. There's a paper that came out recently that tried to quantify exactly this how much sea ice in the Arctic is melted for every X number of carbon emitted. So he's Americans amid on average 16 tons of carbon every single year with your flying domestically your. Probably going to admit between half a ton and a ton of carbon calculating in that radiative forcing if you're flying economy for the round-trip and and so 1 ton. If you want to figure out how much sea ice you are melting off into Oblivion with 1-ton it's a little bit over and I'm going to get this in Yards First.
[1:30:27] 0.70 polar bear hunts.
[1:30:31] Will polar bears I think it's an important part of the same age and I'll tell you why in a second. But the actual number is basically an egg in this isn't it in yards and I'll give you the meters in a second but I think it is more useful for the Americans who need to.
[1:30:45] We need to hear it more.
[1:30:46] Yeah so basically 3 yards by 3 yards a square so almost 10 ft by 10 ft is burned. Every round trip domestic flight that you you take probably more or less than actual numbers 1 ton of carbon emissions Burns 3 by 3 yards.
[1:31:08] Yeah that's that puts it into perspective.
[1:31:10] Yeah they leave for meeting on average 16 tons per capita that is 16 x 3 x 3 so that's 4 4 by 4 so 4 * 3 is 12. 12 M by 12 M we're about the size of a large apartment 1200 square feet I think my math is right.
[1:31:33] 1200 square feet would cost you $2,400 a month and some of the high-end rental units in Atlanta David.
[1:31:43] Well I hope my math is right and it's only what's a double check please do Cuz I'm just doing this in my head as I sit here but yeah that that's a very visual way to think about the damage you're doing to. The Earth every single year living the life that we do as Americans and the full-back that polar bear image Daniel if anybody seen planet Earth you've seen these starving polar bears or swimming in this vast Seas trying to find a patch of ice to sit on. And well if you hadn't done all that stuff there be a very large apartment size block of ice waiting for that polar bear to climb up on rest and and seals to sit on for them to eat. But it's not watered.
[1:32:22] Have you considered the David that polar bears are one of the few species on this planet that will actively hunt human beings.
[1:32:30] Well maybe it's a problem that will solve itself then the polar bears eat enough of us then we'll be fine.
[1:32:35] There you go from Planes to jevin to polar bears.
[1:32:41] A lot to think about Daniel but think about it and do something about it we hope you will you can find more information about all the topics we talked about today those interesting science papers as well as a full transcript of the show on our website at ashes ashes. Org.
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[1:34:04] You look like a call-in show where we play listener recordings and we talked about them a little bit and then we play another one. So if you want to be part of that show and if you want to make sure that we are answering your questions or talk about your favorite pet peeve topics. Then you should call us and leave a message that number is 313. 99 ashes that's 313-992-7437. I just called and start recording what you hear a sago and we'll be sure to get a recording of that and added to the show we're really excited about this technology we're just trying to figure out the best way to integrated like Daniel says this seems like a fun way to do it.
[1:34:45] What's a great job reading that phone number that is very professional sounding.
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