≡ Menu

Find the mistake

I always love this kind of headline from an AP story (Ht:Drudge):

Scientists: Cut Air Travel for Environment

As if the environment is a sentient entity we should do stuff for.  But the mistake comes in the body of the article.  For homework, find the quote that ignores economic reality and portrays a lovely inconsistency as well.  There are a couple of candidates, but choose the one with the most interesting error.  On Friday morning, I’ll edit this post and add the best answer I receive via email or add my own.

Britain should drastically reduce the
growth of air travel to bring greenhouse gas emissions within levels
that will avoid dangerous climate change, a report by leading
environmental scientists said Wednesday.

Air travel has boomed in recent years thanks largely to cheaper
flights, and the government predicts that the number of air passengers
in Britain will more than double by 2020. But aviation is a major
source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, because planes burn
huge amounts of fossil fuels at high altitudes.

The government says it wants a 60 percent cut in carbon dioxide
emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, as the nation’s
contribution toward preventing an increase in temperatures that would
threaten a dangerous level of climate change.

But the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, which includes
scientists from universities across Britain, said that target is
incompatible with the current expansion rate of the aviation industry.

"If the U.K. government does not curb aviation growth, all other
sectors of the economy will eventually be forced to become carbon
neutral," said Kevin Anderson, who led the research team. "It will
undermine the competitiveness of U.K. industry."

Economic activity is said to be carbon neutral if its net carbon
dioxide emission level is zero _ a requirement that would severely
restrict most industries and hamper economic growth.

But the Tyndall Center report, "Decarbonizing the United Kingdom," said
combining economic growth with emissions reductions remains possible,
if improvements in energy efficiency are made and more low- carbon
sources of energy are used.

Aviation, however, is much more difficult to decarbonize, so growth in
the sector must be "dramatically curtailed," the report said.

Current government predictions suggest the number of air passengers
will grow from 189 million in 2002 to between 350 and 460 million in

Environment Minister Elliot Morley said he accepted the need to reduce emissions, but opposed a tax on aviation fuel.

"The evidence is that people will simply pay the tax and continue to
travel and we won’t actually stop the growth," Morley told British
Broadcasting Corp. TV.

"I actually
think there are other ways of doing it. The most effective one is to
include aviation within carbon trading schemes, so there is an absolute
limit on the amount of emissions from the aviation sector."

Britain is pressing for aviation to be included in the second phase of
the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which begins in 2008, according to the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The emissions trading scheme allows European companies that emit less
carbon dioxide than allowed to sell unused allotments to those who
overshoot the target.

Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth, however, said it favored an aviation fuel tax.

"The Department of Transport’s own models on aviation growth show
dramatic reductions in air travel when assumptions are added for fuel
taxes and other factors," the group’s director Tony Juniper said in a

"Aviation is a rogue
sector and its environmental impact is out of control. Climate change
is the most urgent challenge facing humanity and yet aviation policy is
doing the opposite of what is needed."