John McAndrew

Germ 3: Airlines and Climate Change

In environment, Thoughts on May 30, 2018 at 2:29 PM

Flying creates a LOT of greenhouse gases, especially since we’ve gotten to the point where we can fly anywhere, any time, and do so.

I started by checking out what airlines are already doing, with an emphasis on Southwest, which has been a favorite for a long time.

Southwest already has a relationship with National Forest Fndtn: maybe they could help

Explore tax benefits of improving land by replanting.

Trees around corporate offices: cooling and energy efficiency value, in addition to aesthetics.

Southwest could plant Southwest Forests near each airport they service

Who goes to the Southwest One Report site now? How many visitors? Probably not many. So even those who care about the environment don’t know it’s there. A carbon offset option at ticketing would make their efforts higher profile

People can convert FF miles to the SW Forest Project: would that get them a tax writeoff? Would it get SW a write off?

Napkins on flights can be ads for how green SW is: paper all made of recycled content; promote carbon offset opportunities; plastics can be either made of recycled material or biodegradable corn- or bamboo-based materials; they can drive innovation in packaging of soft drinks and booze, minimize plastics – and in-flight weight – dramatically

Annual report on CO2 emissions, with target for each year.

Solar panels on corporate HQ; let the savings from those panels finance panels on schools, co-funded by states, which will need to pass budgets to finance such things.

How confident are you that you are optimizing efficiency and minimizing CO2e emissions? Then how about soliciting an independent audit of ALL airlines to measure the comparative emissions of each/passenger mile, and publish it annually.

Begin by asking Southwest questions about their hopes and goals for greenery, assuming they’re not just greenwashing. For those who choose to offset their carbon omissions, perhaps Southwest could offer a discount on renting an electric car. Can Southwest put pressure on their car rental partners to offer electric cars? Are there fleet discounts available to car rental agencies for electric cars? Why are consumers reluctant to rent EVs? Can SW or their rental car partners build more infrastructure? Is an EV rental is more economical for both agency and consumer? If not, why not?

Comparisons and competitions

The report, released May 8, 2012 by U.S.-based eco directory site Greenopia, is the fourth in a series of annual reports ranking airlines on various eco credentials, including:

• Fuel conservation practices

• Progress on alternative fuel types

• Recycling programs

• Green food options

• Green building design

• Carbon offsets

In 2015: “the aviation industry represents approximately 2-3% of greenhouse gas emissions, which seems low but we must also be aware of the fact that air traffic doesn’t stop increasing and the aviation industry is the only one not subjected to any international regulation, to the European one yes, but not to a global one!”

“takeoff and landing consume much more fuel than the flight itself”

Re: Alaska Airlines, another favorite: “passenger waste management, supplier transportation and the resources utilized on board of their planes. Their goal is to reduce 20% of their CO2 emissions by 2020 and to increase their biofuel utilization.”

Travel and Leisure: “upcoming United Nations ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) agreement.” This mandates that all airlines cap CO2 and commit to carbon neutral growth after 2020, among other significant measures.”

““Last year, [2014] U.S. airlines burned through 16.2 billion gallons of fuel [or 340 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions],” says Mayerowitz. “

7 Things Passengers can do to limit their footprints:

1. Fly nonstop

2. Fly in a newer plane

3. Lower the window shade (No. Really??)

4. Pack lighter

5. Use Google’s ITA software, Matrix – which can help you compare flights by carbon footprint!

6.  Choose a flight with more seats, using

7. Offset your carbon footprint

United “started utilizing biofuel in 2015. They even plan on reducing CO2 emissions by 50% thanks to this fuel called AltAir.” [see also “The AltAir Fuel project represents the first drop-in liquid biofuel project funded by the ARFVTP program. This is significant because drop-in fuels meet the same product specification requirements of the petroleum products they replace. As such, they can be stored, transported, and used without any change to engines or infrastructure.” COSTS????? CO2e savings????? According to United,  “The AltAir biofuel is expected to provide greater than a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on a life cycle basis when compared to traditional jet fuel.” And in reality????? ]

From United: “Through new aircraft purchases, fleet modifications, operational improvements and other innovations, we have improved our fuel efficiency by 34 percent since 1994.” And “Additionally, United customers can purchase carbon offsets or donate miles toward the purchase of carbon offsets through our Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program. In 2015, we expanded our Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program to enable our corporate customers to offset their United air travel and cargo shipments for their entire enterprise.”

United Eco Skies program.

In 2016: “the industry has managed to double in size in the last 10 years, growing from 369 billion dollars of revenue in 2004 to 746 billion at the end of 2014.  The Aviation Industry however remains plagued by low profit margins and large costs, which means that most —if not all— efforts at sustainability are driven by the desire for cost efficiencies.  Fortunately, reducing fuel consumption meets both of those goals.”

“Fleet age: Newer fleet, more fuel and energy efficient planes. With advances made for newer aircraft, fuel consumption has been cut in recent models by as much as 20% compared to the older models”

“Carbon Ofsetting: Despite concerns about carbon offsetting being little more than a marketing ploy, most airlines today do offer their customers the ability to a) calculate the carbon produced as a result of them flying and b) make a donation to offset it, with donations usually being made to organisations developing sustainable energy sources, often in the developing world.  Notably, a few airlines are working with partners that offset carbon in the ‘home’ country with forestry projects being set up, such as British Airways and ANA.”


Alternative fuel: “KLM in particular is focusing on innovation in this area and is the airline who has conducted the longest test flights using biofuel.”

In 2017:

“according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Air France-KLM has been the most sustainable airline group in the world for 12 years running.” “This means the airline uses 15 percent less paint, reducing the fuel drag of the aircraft. The plane can be more easily cleaned using only soap and water, avoiding the use of hazardous solvents.” “Of course, KLM recycles plastic, paper, and aluminum to the extent possible. However, the airline has taken things one step beyond other carriers by using recycled material from its old cabin crew uniforms as part of the carpeting aboard its new aircraft cabins. 

Inflight catering uses products (like coffee and chocolates, for example) that are sustainable and fair trade when possible. Inflight meals avoid mass-produced chicken and eggs in favor of local, farm-raised options.

KLM is among the many airlines to offer a carbon offset program, which allows passengers to pay a donation that relates to the amount of carbon emissions travelers are putting into the atmosphere due to their itinerary. This can reach several hundred dollars for some long-haul flights, and most airlines remain mum on the limited uptake of this voluntary donation. However, KLM claims that some do-gooder passengers pay it.” “This author once heard an announcement on a flight from Tokyo Narita with another airline that, due to extreme headwinds, the flight might have to divert for supplemental fuel. A call to action from gate agents encouraged passengers to use the loo before boarding to help lighten the load on board and perhaps avoid that extra stop. The next time you board a flight, think about the weight you are carrying aboard and what you can do about it. Even with an action as small as using the restroom at the airport, you may just be helping a little.”

Germ 2: Mayo and Rochester

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2018 at 2:07 PM

Mayo Clinic or the city of Rochester, MN:

Birth Tree Parties: plant seedlings in honor of a child’s birth

Memorial Forest: plant trees – perhaps using ashes in the planting – to memorialize those who have died. These could be planted throughout the city, so former residents can beautify and shade their descendants

Recovery/Gratitude Forest Walk/Meditation Garden: plant a tree in gratitude for recovery from injury, accident, or illness. Would provide a good place for “forest bathing,” gathering one’s spirits while seeking healing

Doctors and Nurses’ Grove: for use specifically by doctors and nurses and hospital staff

Work with Audubon and Arbor Day to create bird habitat in these places.

Work with local permaculturists/arborists to choose trees and companion plants

WHY would Mayo or Rochester be interested?

Community asset like the Mayo Civic Center; reduce health effects of climate change; educational oppty about health effects of climate change; oppty to reduce Mayo’s/Rochester’s carbon footprint; can be used for walking, running, biking, X-country skiing, or outdoor fitness stations; treats storm and wastewater: provides value to city and region; food forest could provide food for hospital cafeteria or local food banks; provides needed bee and bird habitat; i distributed neighborhood plantings improve real estate values.

Increase alliances within the city: City of Rochester’s water and climate initiatives; energy conservation/climate initiatives; churches (Catholics and Lutherans are most prominent), mosques, synagogues, temples, zendos – gives them something non-sectarian on which to work together


In environment, Thoughts on May 30, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Germs. They’re a start.

I have germs of some ideas. They won’t grow by themselves. if I can find or make the right conditions for them, maybe they’ll amount to something. For now, they’re preserved on my laptop, so I figure I might at least give them a little air here. Feel free to tweak, tinker, or give feedback. I’ve attached some of the ideas to institutions or companies, but if they would fare better elsewhere, I’m fine with that. Here are a few to start.

Costco: 2 Ideas

Costco Permanent: high-quality tools that are guaranteed to last your lifetime. Institutional sales: to hotels, motels – those industries with the largest carbon footprints. Make them a deal on efficiency. This would require some money up front, and then payments to make it easier to afford. Costco can make money off of the financing. They can partner with manufacturers to reduce or eliminate packaging – or make it reusable. When replacing an item, they can assess if the item can be retrofitted to be more efficient, or if it can be disassembled and parts reused, or donated to a cause for a tax write off.

Costco Aid: identify the places where emissions/climate/environmental damages are worst, and identify top causes. Get funding and legislation in place to remedy these problems (name them by the particular suffering the community is enduring – Flint’s water, Farmington’s air quality/asthma/lung disease, Kentucky/West Virginia’s black lung, Africa’s oil spills/species extinctions and tourism decline) and provide the materials and expertise. Kind of a Peace Corps remediation concept. Go from worst case scenario to worst case scenario, either responding to emergencies or remedying long-neglected problems.

Coordinated Disaster Relief

Playing on the above theme. Imagine a partnership with the US military and State Department and Red Cross, with Solar City, Costco, and other privately or publicly-held companies, to stock a relief/resupply ship to be at ready for hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural or man-made disasters. When the path of the storm is well-established, the ship could position itself to arrive ASAP to provide immediate relief and assistance. There could be a hospital on board; solar panels and wind turbines ready to assemble. High-capacity water purifiers, composting toilets, blankets, and instant shelters. Hundreds of thousands of meals. Helicopters on deck to deliver goods to remote areas that have been isolated by damaged infrastructure. Cell towers and wifi providers.


name an issue – say the backlog of rape kits in New Mexico, or a project to plant a million trees this year in a given town, or ocean plastic. Set a goal for accomplishing this in One Year. Maybe two. Assemble people with capacity: expertise in legal or financial pieces needed to accomplish the goal, manpower available, knowledge of regulations, and tech, etc. Strategize. Implement. Solve. Part of the frustration of government these days is how everything gets diagnosed but nothing gets treated. Or solved

Joy Store

How do we instill joy in restoring our biosphere? How do we make it a matter of play and delight? Mostly, we climate hawks feel justifiably morose about our current state of affairs and our trajectory. But we love shopping. And the local franchise of Wild Birds Unlimited recently closed. So we could sell bird houses, bird baths, birdseed, bell collars for cats that shouldn’t live outside but do, give away seedlings of plants that need to be replenished in the area, like those on which bees or monarch butterflies depend, one seedling per purchase. There would be no plastic in the store. Sell books that instill joy. Maybe have adopt-a-tree days on the weekends, with local arborists bringing trees by for adoption (aka purchase), like an animal shelter adoption. There would be live music and dancing. Oh, and there would be book and discussion groups, because community.

Also, there would be Pop-Up Joy stores in different neighborhoods at unexpected times. Because Joy does pop up unexpectedly. We would sell snow cones in the summer, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire in the winter. And other stuff.

There would be unicycles

We would hire grandparents to be on hand to give hugs.

There would be permaculturists for hire or consult. We would lobby for permission to plant trees and other necessary plants in community boulevards, parking areas, and highway medians. Then we would have weekend planting parties. Some of those trees would be food trees, so we would also have autumn harvest parties. We would sell seedlings of the great local trees to be planted in honor of the births of new babies and the deaths of elders.

We would have PROtests: where we would go out and celebrate community members – individuals or businesses – that had done some great good recently. PRO-, meaning in favor of or in celebration or recognition of.

We would sell permanent straws to take the place of all those goddamn plastic ones that nobody needs. We would give a discount to customers who rode their bicycles or drove their EVs to the store. If you come in with proof that you put solar panels on your house, we would celebrate you in someway… I’m open to ideas. We would have EV chargers, whether for Tesla or another variety.

We would provide baskets at the front of the store where people with too many zucchinis could donate them to the community. 

Every Sunday morning we would host the first church of Beethoven… Or of gospel music sung by a local black church choir. There would be opportunities for people to share stories of joy, gratitude, and Thanksgiving. It’s conceivable that there would be donuts. Maybe bubbles. Go wild!

We would bake something there every day, because walking into a place with something baking ALWAYS smells good.

An EV dealer would have cars available for test drives every weekend, rain or shine, winter or summer, and a local credit union would be there to talk financing for solar panels, community solar and whether local regulations support it, and EV purchases.

At least 1/4 of employees would be ex-cons. Because nothing creates joy like seeing folks put their lives back together.

We would sell musical instruments made from local woods and materials.

Maybe we’d have tutors for students. Bring the kids in while you shop, and let them get help with subjects they struggle with. 20 minute tutorial sessions.

All employees would wear T-shirts with this name tag embroidered on them: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.” Etc. It’d be fun!

We would close the store every Election Day, but employees would be paid to drive voters to the polls. We would open after polls closed for an hour or two to watch returns and study voter turnout. 


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