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Rother Green Party

This is the web site for the "Rother Greens" - the local party covering the Rother District Council area of East Sussex

We have an active membership in this area, and meet regularly (currently all our meetings are via Zoom video-conferencing).

Next meeting of Rother Green Party: Wednesday 24 June 2020 at 7:30 pm by Zoom

The joining details for the May meeting are the same as for the previous Zoom meetings.  They will be emailed out to all members and supporters of Rother Green Party a few days before the meeting.

Aviation and the Green Economy …a short intro

Aeroplane engniesIt’s just under one 100 years since the first two pilots, Alcock and Brown, flew across the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland. The average speed was 118mph - and Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight from New York to Paris will have its 100th anniversary in 2027.

In the intervening 100 years aviation has grown at an incredible rate with the world’s skies crisscrossed with planes and their following contrails. Aircraft have grown in size to hold hundreds of people and speed has become many times as fast as the first flight’s 118mph. Not to forget that Man flew to the moon on carbon fuel just 50 years after that first Atlantic crossing.

The fuel for these flights, of course, comes from oil deposits buried deep beneath the ground that  have taken million of years to form from, amongst other things, the remains of trillions of dead insects and other creatures.  The burning of these prehistoric deposits at a vast rate releases huge amounts of CO2 and other gases high into the atmosphere.  Aviation might be responsible for a smaller percentage of CO2 release than, say, industry but it is its release into the upper atmosphere that is of great concern.  The British government’s thoughts about this was to expand flight capacity in planning to build a third runway at Heathrow. The runway may have been refused planning permission but a challenge by Heathrow Airport has recently been allowed.

Instead of any reduction in plane numbers, the number of international flights is set to increase by 20% … by latest projections.

Environmentalists have long railed against this addition to greenhouse gases but still aviation fuel remains untaxed and those such as Richard Branson and Michael O’Leary oppose greater taxes or limits to flight numbers and, particularly in he latter’s case, see no harm in their planes and dismiss all green concerns.

Of course, trips by air increase countries’ trade and allow the growth in foreign holidays and much intercontinental communication; paradoxically this uncontrolled social movement is what has brought the coronavirus to us so quickly.  And after a peaceful month where the skies have cleared and pollution levels (from all sources) have gone down the number of flights is steadily increasing.  Can we do without these journeys?  The growth of virtual meetings could contain the need for business people to hop on a plane, possibly if this steady change to business online is accompanied by an increase in fares and greater aviation taxation.  Goods, particularly out of season fresh vegetables, could be done away with and holidays at home might be encouraged or people rationed to a number of flights per year. However, this would mean a change of heart for all governments and a world consensus that aviation must be reduced. Unlikely.

On the other hand the growth of economies in many African and E Asian countries rely on this trade to build their economies, develop their countries and, it must be said, have the material comforts that we in the west have ‘achieved’.

Any reduction in flying is unlikely to happen in the short term and by the time the temperatures have risen to the degree that no one wants to travel south it will be too late to do anything to stop runaway global warming.

Is there any hope?  Groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Plane Stupid have begun to counter government aviation policies in Western Europe but so much more needs to be done and  climate science needs to scare us all with facts and figures to show that change must happen.

 

Don Nicholls, member of Rother Green Party

 

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