Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Flying was his dream. Now he wants to reduce the carbon footprint of air travel. » Yale Climate Connections


As a child, Todd Smith dreamed of flying planes. And he fulfilled that dream, becoming a commercial pilot.

Smith: “I loved the feeling of being up in the sky and both the tranquility and the vastness of … looking down at our beautiful planet.”

But when a medical issue forced him to take a break from work, he visited Rainbow Mountain in Peru. The colorful slopes have become visible because they’re no longer covered with snow. That made Smith worry about global warming and burning fossil fuels for transportation.

Smith: “Knowing that my industry played a major part in that was something which took at least a couple of years to fully come to terms with because I wanted to stay in denial, I wanted to find the quick fix, but the deeper I looked, the more it became apparent that there wasn’t one.”

He says it could be decades before technologies for low-carbon aviation are fully developed, but it’s critical to reduce carbon pollution now.

So Smith cofounded Safe Landing, a group of current and former aviation workers seeking to slow the industry’s growth.

He says pilots are trained to keep people safe, even if it means diverting from the original flight plan.

Now he feels called upon to divert from his original path to help create a safer climate.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media





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