Air travel emissions are actually far worse than everyone thought

Belgium - Flying around the world, or just jumping states, seems to have a bigger effect on driving climate change than we thought.

These jets are chilling before they fly, but are serious emitters in the sky.
These jets are chilling before they fly, but are serious emitters in the sky.  © REUTERS

According to Euronews, research from the European Commission showed that although CO2 from air travel is a contributor to rising temperatures, other types of emissions from flights make up around two-thirds of airplanes' climate impact.

The mix of non-CO2 emissions coming out of jet engines includes a type of nitrogen oxide, soot, oxidized sulfur, and water vapor. And those different gases and particles can have a strong warming effect when they are floating around high above our heads.

Most jets fly at a cruising altitude of over 31,000 feet, and up that high there isn't much insulation from the power of the sun.

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That means that when their engines spew out a mix of warming gases, it hits the climate harder than the same emissions would at lower altitudes.

But concerns of worsening climate change haven't done much to stop the richest 1% of people, who are the most frequent flyers, from contributing 50% of aviation emissions, according to Forbes.

And that doesn't even touch on the undocumented emissions from the US military, which would be 45th in terms of greenhouse gas emissions if it were a country.

Dropping the use of fossil fuels and changing how our transportation systems work is one part of tackling the climate crisis.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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