Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

I think train rides are nice.

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on October 9, 2007

This protest at the Manchester Airport again highlights a serious problem in Britain: air travel. In my last post ranting against Her Majesty’s subjects, I noted that the average Briton is not really considering the environmental impacts of his/her international airline flights. These protesters focused primarily on domestic travel, which is arguably less necessary for the somewhat compact island nation.

The Green Party believes domestic air travel should be stopped and that rail services between London and Manchester should be improved to cope with passenger demand, because each flight on that route produces an estimated 0.87 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. “The ration we need is about two tonnes per year,” said Ms Hall, “but one flight is producing almost half of your ration of carbon.”

Let’s set aside the slightly absurd image of seven people attempting to shut down an entire airport terminal using only handcuffs. Let’s also forget that I come from America, which is not exactly crusading against climate change. However, it takes no more than six hours by rail to get from London to any of Manchester (3.5), Newcastle (3.5), Glasgow (5.5), and Edinburgh (6). I admit that many Americans fly from DC to NY or Boston despite frequent trains. However, any two main points in Britain are connected by a reasonably short rail trip. So quit expanding your airports and slap a tax on those jet emissions.

Note: Apparently I have unresolved issues with the UK.

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