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CO2 Emissions and Global Warming

by Jeremy Cox 1. July 2007 00:00
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I am no stranger to controversy and this month I thought that I might possibly get everyone's juices flowing by bringing up the controversial subject of Global Warming. Okay, so you think that I may be going a little soft in the head, or maybe I have lost sight of where my bread and butter comes from and therefore I am going on a perilous course of biting the hand that feeds me, by bringing the issue of climate change to this monthly column. Well I hope that none of my own accusations about my state of mind are true, so why you may ask should we even give any fraction of time and space for the discussion of this issue within this corner of Cyberspace that is Global Air? Let me tell you why I think that this is an extremely important issue of discussion, and why you should have an opinion about global warming:

Aviation is powered by fossil fuel and to my knowledge there is no alternative aviation fuel currently available, or even within our sights of being available to any of us that can be anywhere close to the level of calorific value that modern aero engines, whether piston, or gas turbine need to allow them to function at their required power output levels. The search for an alternative aviation fuel may appear to be necessary based upon economic factors rather than for any need to satisfy the growing 'green' movement. The Worldwide deposits of fossil fuels are diminishing while the prices for these fuels are increasing at what appears to be an alarming rate. If you are a regular reader of this forum, you will recall an article that I wrote back in the late of summer of 2005 regarding fuel pricing where I cited a report published by the French Government titled 'The oil industry 2004.' (You can still read this article here.) As a reminder, this report states that the year: 2013 as "the time of maximum production or 'Peak Oil.'" That would mean that the world's oil consumption would reach its highest point around 97 million barrels per day (mbpd). Certain pundits believe that 'Peak Oil' will actually occur at the end of this decade (2010), while even others believe that it has already occurred. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); who account for more than 39% of all crude oil production, and whose member countries hold more than 2/3 of the world's oil reserves, recently reported that they had opened their spigot 'wide-open' and that global oil extraction currently amounts to 85 Million Barrels of oil per day. It doesn't take much time after thinking about these figures to realize that fuel is not going to drop in price by very much from this point on. So $7.00 per USG Jet A1 delivered into wing at a New York airport, will probably be considered extremely good value in another decade from now.

I believe that the majority within the aviation industry, most likely believes, like me, that the issue of fossil fuel supply and demand is an issue of far greater importance than that of the theoretical issue of global warming. Unfortunately only time will tell as to which of these issues should have been our focus and priority. However I contest that global warming, CO2 emissions and climate change are issues that must now be placed firmly onto your radar, and made a priority within the aviation industry if only to enable us all to develop a unanimous and socially acceptable strategy of stance on this issue. If we are unable to prevent our industry from being demonized by the rapidly swelling worldwide public and political opinion on this controversial topic, everyone of us aviation types will be viewed as pariahs while our freedom and ability to engage in aviation activities will become increasingly socially unacceptable and therefore curtailed. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand by avoiding this topic; instead we must make both the time and effort to form up as an industry with one voice and opinion on this issue, before it is too late.

I don't know what your opinion is on this issue, but hopefully through the function of this site, you will be very vocal through your finger tips, by sharing your opinion with us all, here today. First I must give you my opinion.

There are over six and a half billion people on this planet. Two and one third billion people or thirty six percent of the world's population do not have access to electricity. These people have every right to expect that their lot will be eventually improved by rapid industrialization of their countries' economies, namely African and Asian countries that will ultimately allow these people access to the basic necessity; electricity. Unfortunately there is a massive group of people in the wealthy western world that believe that industrial societies are the destroyers of the world. Currently there is intense political pressure being brought to bear on western governments by people that are anti cars, anti aeroplanes, anti growth, anti globalization, anti capitalism and ultimately anti USA. The interpretation of the results of the ice core surveys that started in Vostock in the Antarctic, have been distorted to prove the argument that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the direct cause of rising temperature or global warming. In fact it has been proved by further analysis that the recorded increases in CO2 levels in the atmosphere are a result of the temperature increase, not the other way around. The Human contribution to CO2 production is absolutely negligible when compared to the amounts naturally produced by the world's oceans, volcanoes, animals and rotting vegetation. A point of fact easily forgotten is that during the mid 1970s the world's scientific community was warning us all that we were on the brink of a new ice-age, not global warming as is the current argument. These earlier views were fuelled by the evidence that the global temperatures had been sinking during the post war economic boom between 1940 and 1975. Water vapour is the most virulent greenhouse gas, not CO2. The sun is the cause of global warming, not CO2. However the burning of fossil fuels has been identified by certain scientists, much to the glee of the popular media, as the cause of global warming. Unfortunately none of us in aviation can do our jobs without burning fossil fuels, hence our dilemma with this issue. I strongly believe that we must all band together as a united front, with the solidarity and assistance of our industry associations like NBAA, GAMA, NATA, AOPA, etc. in developing a cogent and intelligent public relations statement to combat the rising tide of public opinion against aviation. If we are to be labelled as one of the largest producers of the greenhouse gas: CO2, we must be able to fight back with our own data and statistics, before it is too late.

What are your thoughts and opinions regarding the issue of CO2 Emissions? Please make them known here. Any input that you care to make will be of great interest to all of the readers here at Globalair.com. So please don't be bashful and go ahead and write your comments and suggestions here. Please don't forget that whatever you write here, can be seen publicly by everyone that visits this page, so please be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice.

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Jeremy Cox


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