Google and travel sites start posting flight emission numbers

Useful information for my fellow eco activists, particularly us “Woodstock Boomers,” who still engage in air travel. (I say “Woodstock Boomers” because that’s basically my core demographic “tribe” that I identify with. And talking much outside my core demographic — particularly trying to tell younger people and people of color what they should do to fix problems that they have by and large not caused– is outside my lane. Boomer generation is the most resourced in history, and we have done a lot to trash the planet even long after we started waking up to what we were doing. So I feel like it’s on us to really be the change.)

“Flight booking platforms are giving customers a new number to think about when they buy a plane ticket: the expected greenhouse gas emissions of their trip.
If you’ve searched for plane tickets on Google Flights in the past two years, you’ve probably seen a little green number that compares each route’s climate impact. Google began predicting flight emissions in 2021, using data about flight schedules, airplane models and how full a flight is expected to be to come up with an estimate for each passenger’s carbon footprint.”

(“How you should think about those Google Flights pollution numbers”; Washington Post; )

Also: Another tool for people who fly is carbon offsets. Basically you pay a bit extra and the money goes toward mitigating the footprint of your flight. Examples include treeplanting projects.

Carbon offsets aren’t perfect, but it’s a start. When I quit flying some years back, I additionally purchased carbon offsets to retroactively offset every flight I could remember taking in my adult life. (Most of them for work but some of them were purely recreational.)

If you want to learn more about carbon offsets and how you can use them to help mitigate the impact of your flights and any other travel as well – I’ve used them for Amtrak trips too — check out this website:

Gold Standard is the choice of the most dedicated climate activist I know, when they have felt they needed to fly for work or some family emergency etc. (A lot of us have subsequently quit flying altogether. But in the meantime, carbon offsets offer some mitigation.)

Purchasing carbon offsets only adds a few dollars to the ticket price, and if we can afford to travel we can afford to purchase carbon offsets.

Still, as the Washington Post article points out:

“But you should take this carbon price with a grain of salt. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on climate damage, and economists disagree on the final number. To come up with an estimate, scientists model how much each additional ton of CO2 will heat the earth and contribute to sea level rise, droughts, wildfires and other calamities. Then economists determine how much those disasters will cost in terms of property damage, crop failures, hospital visits and so on.
“There are many, many links on this chain, and there’s a lot of uncertainty at each link …'”