Monday, October 20, 2008

The hidden cost of travel - CO2

A reader asked how it was possible for an MPV travelling 15,000 kilometers to generate 4,000 kgs of CO2?  If you think of it, its quite amazing that the CO2 generated is almost 3 times the weight of the vehicle!

The truth is that when your car burns fuel, the resultant CO2 generated weighs more than the fuel itself.  Here's a quick conversion:  burning 1 KG of fuel will generate roughly 3.25 kgs of CO2.

Did you know that on average, a Boeing 747 can burn about 200 tons of jet fuel per trip?
And, this is how much fuel burnt (and the resultant CO2 generated) to carry 1 person from Kuala Lumpur to:
  • Bangkok: 100kg fuel       --> 325kg CO2
  • Tokyo: 400kg fuel           --> 1300kg CO2
  • Sydney: 480kg fuel         --> 1560kg CO2
  • London: 750kg fuel        --> 2440kg CO2
  • New York: 1090kg fuel  --> 3540kg CO2
You can try out how much fuel is burnt from flying here.

Here's another number:  The aviation industry alone, contributes to 2% of the world's carbon emission!  Talk about a guilt trip!!

So what am I talking here, do we not fly?  Do we just take ourselves back to the pre-Wright era in this modern day Flat world?  Well, here are some alternatives....
  • Use trains (for long- and shorthaul) -- they generate about a quarter of CO2 compared to planes
  • Use cars (for short trips) -- still generate half of the CO2 of planes
  • Don't travel -- video conference or Skype! (no, seriously, many business are turning to this!)

But if you must fly (and many of us do), there is a way you can help...

Many environmentally conscious Airlines around the world have started to implement a carbon offset program.  Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Continental, Virgin are some names who have offered either carbon neutral flights or an option for passengers to participate in their carbon offset programs.

Closer to home, Malaysia Airlines (together with sister companies MASwings and Firefly) have also recently opened its carbon offset program to all its online customers.  This is a voluntary program where passengers have the option of contributing a sum of money to help fund selected UN programmes to reduce greenhouse gasses.  

If you like, you can even make one-off contributions without even needing to travel.

So next time when you book a ticket through MAS, have a think and consider contributing to their program for the sake of the environment. You can check out MAS' initiative here.  Happy tree hugging!! :)

8 commented:

Anonymous said...

I think that answer to the reader's question is that as the vehicle burns carbon from the fuel, it absorbs oxigen from the air. So the reaction is C + O2 = CO2

Center Parted said...

Thanks. Yeah, and CO2 is only part of the picture.

Other by-products include carbon monoxide (poisonous), nitrogen oxides and sulfer oxides (acid rain), ash and soot, and unburnt fuel.... talk about messing up the air we breath!

Anonymous said...

Wow, didn't know that MAS offered such environmental friendly programmes! Wonder if Airasia does as well...

Center Parted said...

Hi Jay, so far no news yet from AirAsia.

And it is only a matter of time where all other airlines have come up with something -- or be forced to do it by regulatory bodies.

Anonymous said...

Wow! these are NEW infos to me! Travel so much, yet I never knew these....

Center Parted said...

Hi Angeline, yeah and if you can, help spread the word, so more become aware of the impact we humans have having on the environment. Thanks! :)

sting said...

oh ya, heard about MAS doing that... which I think is great since we can't help not fly so at least we can contribute back to nature.. happy tree hugging too!

foongpc said...

This is news to me! Didn't know flying can contribute so much CO2! Good thing airlines are taking note of this.