In the past year the directors and chief executives of groups such as WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association have crisscrossed the globe, visiting the Falklands, Japan, Africa and Brazil.
All are running high-profile campaigns to persuade people to change their lifestyles and cut emissions of carbon dioxide.
George Monbiot, a leading environmentalist, said this weekend he was “very disappointed — especially if they are flying on holiday”. Heat, Monbiot’s new book on climate change, warns of disastrous temperature rises unless western countries cut carbon emissions by 90% by 2030, meaning a virtual end to flying. Green jetsetters, Sunday Times, October 1st, 2006.
Nearly got run over by this huge motorbike, sure it was driven by Mayer Hillman, well for at least half a minute.
Jonathon Leake from the Sunday Times phoned me up to talk about the new direct action campaign against flights and mentioned Joss Garman, who seems to be the personality behind a wave of new direct action evolving from Earth First! and the anti-roads movement in the 1990s...here is some stuff from his Plane Stupid web site.
mail them on firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
10 Reasons to Ground the Plane…
AVIATION IS THE FASTEST GROWING CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse-gas emissions, already accounting for eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year - more than 10 per cent of the UK total. (Lynas, New Statesman, 03/04/06) By 2050, aviation could contribute 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases. (Transport 2000) We could close every factory, lock away every car and turn off every light in the country, but it won't halt global warming if we carry on taking planes as often as we do and yet aviation is not considered by any binding international treaties such as Kyoto.
Further, the burning of aircraft fuel has a “radiative forcing ratio” of around 2.7. What this means is that the total warming effect of aircraft emissions is 2.7 times as great as the effect of the carbon dioxide alone. The water vapour they produce forms ice crystals in the upper troposphere (vapour trails and cirrus clouds) which trap the earth’s heat. According to calculations by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, if you added the two effects together (it urges some caution as they are not directly comparable), aviation’s emissions alone would exceed the government’s target for the country’s entire output of greenhouse gases in 2050 by around 134%. (Monbiot, The Guardian, 28/02/06)
There are no alternative fuels for aircraft. Indeed, as George Monbiot notes, “The airline companies keep talking about hydrogen planes, but if ever the technological problems were overcome, they would be an even bigger disaster than the current models. “Switching from kerosene to hydrogen,” the Royal Commission says, “would replace carbon dioxide from aircraft with a three-fold increase in emissions of water vapour.” Biofuels for airplanes would need more arable land than the planet possesses. The British government admits that “there is no viable alternative currently visible to kerosene as an aviation fuel.”” (The Guardian, 28/02/06)
AIRPORT EXPANSION IS WIPING COMMUNITIES OFF THE MAP
At its seven airports across the UK BAA is proposing the biggest single programme of airport expansion that the UK will have ever seen, looking for new runways at Stansted, Heathrow, Edinburgh and possibly Glasgow, with significant increases in flights at Gatwick, Aberdeen and Southampton (HACAN Clearskies). These expansions, if approved, would see the demolition of entire swathes of countryside, as well as forced dispersals of large and established communities. As the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee noted, the growth the government foresees will require “the equivalent of another Heathrow every 5 years.” (Select Committee on Environmental Audit, 10th March 2004. Third Report.)
Near Heathrow, Gordon Brown would like to see the biggest evictions since the Highland Clearances, as the West London village of Sipson is wiped off the map. However, the expansion plans will also affect Harmondsworth and the surrounding settlements.
AVIATION IS CREATING MASSIVE NOISE POLLUTION, DAMAGING HEALTH
Living under a flight path is like living on a motorway. Over 1 million people live under the flight paths to the Heathrow and many have to endure a plane flying over every 45 seconds. (Hacan Clearskies) In fact, 14% of people in the UK are moderately or extremely bothered by aircraft noise. (MORI 2004)
The World Health Organisation has expressed concern about the impact of aviation on human health. Long term (5-30 years) exposure to air traffic noise levels averaging 65 to 75 decibels can increase blood pressure levels and the risk of hypertension. Sleep disturbance can lead to fatigue, hypertension, greater risk of heart and respiratory problems, poor concentration in work and school, increased risk of accidents, depression, anxiety and higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. (Greenskies)
Children in schools or living under flight paths chronically under perform. 0.1-2.5% extra pupils in the last four classes of primary schools around Schipol Airport have a low test result for reading comprehension due to aircraft noise exposure. (RIVM, 2005)
AVIATION IS CAUSING ILLEGAL LEVELS OF AIR POLLUTION
Heathrow airport is already breaching UK and EU legal limits for the high levels of nitrogen dioxide and therefore the present growth in the number of flights is probably unlawful. The government’s own figures show that if a third runway is built 35,000 people would be exposed to this poisonous gas. (Airport Environment Foundation, 2006) Indeed, this could be why there is a growing body of evidence, particularly from the USA, which points to higher levels of cancer around major airports. (HACAN Clearskies)
AVIATION IS MOSTLY UNNECCESSARY
80% of worldwide flights are within Europe and 45% of these air journeys are less than 500km – about the distance from London to the Scottish border. (Department for Transport/Transport 2000) These journeys could quite easily be made by other means of transport like bus, ferry and train – all of which are over ten times less polluting. For example, the CO2 levels from London – Edinburgh by plane are 96.4 tonnes, compared with 71 tonnes by car, 11.9 by rail or 9.2 by coach. (Transport 2000)
THE AVIATION INDUSTRY IS DIVERTING MONEY AWAY FROM PUBLIC SERVICES
The airlines receive over £9 billion in tax breaks each year because of tax-free fuel and VAT-free tickets and planes. That’s enough to buy over 30 new hospitals, build 2,000 new schools, put at least 450,000 new police on the beat, and pay the tuition fees of over 3 million students!
Meanwhile, over the last 10 years as air travel fares have come down by 42%, bus fares have been raised by 42%. This hits the poorest the hardest, as 90% of public transport journeys taken by the poorest 20% are by bus.
THE AVIATION INDUSTY’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMY IS HUGELY OVERSTATED
The aviation industry is only the 26th biggest industry in Britain, half the size of the computer industry, and just a tenth the size of banking and finance. It also helps create a tourism deficit of £7 billion pounds each year whereby the amount of money spent abroad by Britons flying out of the UK for leisure and holiday trips exceeds the amount visitors into Britain spend here. (HACAN Clearskies)
Government estimations have ignored the social and environmental costs of flying which are estimated at £10.5 billion per year across the European Union. (The Myths of Flying, 1998)
The 1999 government report entitled, The Contribution of the Aviation Industry to the UK Economy, estimated that, for transport as a whole, every 10% increase in the provision of transport services in the UK between 1979 and 1998 increased overall productivity by 1.3% - about £800 million a year. When the report repeated this exercise for aviation, they could not rule out the possibility there was no link.
‘CHEAP’ FLIGHTS ARE A PERK FOR THE RICH
It’s the rich who are really benefiting from the artificially low prices of air travel. The average income of people using Stansted Airport is £47,000 per year – and it’s supposed to be a budget airport! Low-skilled people and people on benefits, despite making up a quarter of the population, only took 6% of the flights whilst the top quarter of the population took almost half of all flights. (Civil Aviation Authority) Indeed, 75% of those who use budget airlines are in social classes A, B and C with people with second homes abroad taking an average of six return flights a year. Most of the growth, the government envisages, will take place among the wealthiest 10%. (Monbiot, The Guardian, 28.02.06)
AIRPORT EXPANSION IS PUTTING SWATHES OF BRITAIN’S COUNTRYSIDE AT RISK, THREATENING BIODIVERSITY
The Woodland Trust are amongst those opposing airport expansion which is expected to see hundreds of acres of ancient woodland, including oak trees around 400 years old, be destroyed to make way for tarmac. (Woodland Trust) As well as woodland, ponds, meadows, hedgerows and ditches – all important habitats, will be gone forever.
At Luton airport alone, 330 hectares of green belt are under threat. (SLAP) Near Stansted airport around 60 species of bird will lose their habitats including a number which are on the RSPB’s “red list” because they are vulnerable species at risk. (SSE) Otters living in the vicinity of Edinburgh airport will lose their habitats. (The Scotsman)
IMPORTANT HERITAGE SITES WOULD BE LOST DUE TO EXPANSION
Philip Venning, the secretary of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), established by William Morris in 1877, said: "This (the government’s plans for airport expansion) is potentially the biggest single number of destructions of historic buildings in living memory.” (The Guardian)
At risk include 64 Grade II listed buildings and a 900 year old church near Stansted; a 15th Century Tithe Barn and the 12th Century St Mary’s Church in Harmondsworth, near Heathrow; a wooden Providence Chapel at Charlwood near Gatwick, which was used to shelter troops during the Napoleonic Wars; and a 14th Century Cooling Castle near Cliffe’s proposed airport in Kent.