It has been almost 50 years since the federal government began setting standards for automobile emissions. It is also about a half-century since the introduction of wide-body jets set off a runaway expansion of the aviation industry. About 3.8 billion people are expected to fly this year, 50 times as many as 50 years ago — making planes the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide emissions, although they have faced none of the limits set on cars or trucks. That is, until last week, when the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, finally proposed the first binding limits on aircraft emissions.
This is a welcome development, even if it has left many environmental groups disappointed. They have argued, not unreasonably, that the agency set the bar far too low.
Not unreasonably? From where, exactly, did they pull that unargued conclusion?
The history of pollution controls has shown that the first step, however modest, is often the most important in raising confidence and creating momentum toward greater change. In this case, the timing is important, since the clock is running out on the Obama administration.
The United States accounts for half of all carbon dioxide emissions from planes, and limiting aviation emissions has been high on President Obama’s environmental agenda. But the international agreement took more than six years to negotiate, and it still needs approval from the group’s larger council and then its full assembly, followed by laws or regulations in each of the 36 member states.
Because, as we all know, all that is required to turn wish into reality is an Obamster ocean receding, earth healing, decree.
It is nearly impossible to unpack all the stupid in this editorial. But I will start with what is glaringly apparent to anyone possessing enough curiosity to wonder if walking out in front of a bus is a good idea. It is called a fact:
a thing that is known or proved to be true: 1. the most commonly known fact about airliner design is that it does everything possible to minimize fuel usage; 2. That thing to which journalists are most allergic, and about which they are invariably disinterested.
Fuel consumption amounts to about 30% of airline costs. As the dictionary definition, perhaps somewhat improved, makes clear, engineers specify titanium instead of pig iron for a reason. Therefore, and pay attention here, NYT Editorial Board and UN tools, airliner design embodies everything practical, which is darn close to everything possible, to minimize fuel consumption:
Between 1960 and 2000 there was a 55% overall fuel efficiency gain (if one were to consider the Boeing 707 as the base case). Most of the improvements in efficiency were gained in the first decade when jet craft first came into widespread commercial use. Between 1971 and 1998 the fleet-average annual improvement per available seat-kilometre was estimated at 2.4%. ... Airbus states a fuel rate consumption of their A380 at less than 3 L/100 km per passenger (78 passenger-miles per US gallon)
The B737-900 manages 99 passenger miles per gallon.
Somehow, without government pestering, aircraft and engine manufacturers doubled fuel efficiency in twenty years. Somehow, without government pestering, since the late 1990s, jet travel routinely achieves fuel efficiencies that not even the most subsidy-coddled rare-earth gobbling hybrids can get close to.
Obviously, the designers and engineers have no idea that the only thing standing between them and frolicking herds of sparkly pastel unicorns is a UN decree.
Open question: how is it that journalists invariably make bog standard Golden Retrievers seem critical thinkers by comparison?
Okay, the preceding was, and I know this comes as a shock, a bit snarky. Still. This Op-Ed is so smug, and so devoid of even the most easily ascertained clues, that I am utterly at a loss to comprehend how journalists could put up such a pathetic performance, unless the stupid is very strong with them, indeed.