Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Why one researcher is flying less » Yale Climate Connections

As a linguistics researcher, Ian Joo of South Korea is often asked to travel for research and conferences.

But when he learned that taking one flight could cause more carbon pollution than the average citizen of Uganda emits in a year, he was appalled.

Joo: “That was a big shock for me.”

He decided to reduce his air travel. While he was a visiting researcher in the Netherlands, he attended four conferences.

Joo: “For all those conferences, I took the train.”

But he says sometimes flying is the only option and travel is critical for his research — for example when he must go where a specific language is spoken.

In those situations, he looks for a direct flight.

Dan Rutherford of the International Council on Clean Transportation says direct flights tend to emit less carbon pollution — and not only because they often go a shorter distance.

Rutherford: “Aircraft tend to burn a disproportionate amount of fuel and therefore emit more CO2 during the landing and takeoff phase of flight.”

So Joo says even if he has to pay more to fly direct, it’s important to him to make that choice.

Joo: “So it’s, like, lessening the guilt that is produced by … flying this often compared to the average person on Earth.”

Reporting Credit: ChavoBart Digital Media

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