In a recent conversation between Thom Yorke and David Byrne in Wired, Yorke describes how Radiohead conducted a study to assess its carbon footprint, in the hopes of then being able to reduce it. But their biggest impact upon the environment turned out to be something out of their control: all their fans driving to their concerts.
It makes me wonder about my carbon footprint. It has to be ridiculously huge. Not because I drive to work, but because I fly. It’s one of those crazy tales of an academic couple, two professors who can’t, because the market is so tight in their fields, find tenure-track jobs in the same city. So I fly to work. Actually I drive to the airport, fly to a city 400 miles away, then drive again to campus. Two days later I do the same thing in reverse to get back home. As I say, my carbon footprint has got to be ridiculous.
In fact I know it is.
Using Friends of the Forest’s Carbon Calculator, I’ve just found that my flying to work churns out about 23 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. The average American releases under a half metric ton of carbon dioxide from flying.
This is not just ridiculous, it’s despairingly ridiculous. I can refuse all the plastic bags I want at the grocery store, but in the end I’m one of the killers of the world.
Google Maps Mania recently highlighted a website that should satisfy your urge for disaster porn during that dry spell between hurricane season and tornado season: AVCRASH, a Google Map mashup with aviation accident (i.e. plane crash) data from the National Transportation Safety Board. You can narrow your search by time period, location, type of aircraft, even number of fatalities.
So I know, for example, that on 1/13/2006, a Piper PA-30 went down near Fresno, California, killing the pilot and all three passengers.
The NTSB’s full report, conveniently linked to the map, tells me further (and get ready for the soft core disaster erotica) that “Vertical aft accordion crushing was evident on the forward engine.” Oh, baby. And then there’s this sexy image: “The right propeller was located approximately 3 feet from the right wing tip and buried in soil.” That is so hot. But what about some wing-on-wing action, can we have some of that? “The empennage section was circumferentially buckled 3 feet forward of the vertical stabilizer.” Omigod, it’s better than “Planes Gone Wild Seatac Style”!!!
Okay, I admit it, I’m being a tiny bit facetious (though those quotes are real). The disaster porn really doesn’t do much for me. But it must for somebody out there. Why else would you go to all the trouble to make AVCRASH?
I know! To sell airplane insurance!! It makes perfect sense, in a bizarro world, to entice potential customers to buy your aviation insurance, when you enable them to see in such grueling detail all the things that can go wrong when you go up in a plane. Why, the kind people at Aviation Marine Insurance have even included a handy “Get Quote” button on the bottom of the map.
Maybe later. I’m too busy right now drooling over the way the “left propeller was examined, still attached by two flange bolts to the left engine.” Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Sorry, but it’s going to be hard to blog for a while. I’m in Madrid. Plenty of internet cafes around, but it’s not so easy to bring a 1-year old toddler along with me as I spend hours composing deep, reflective posts (yeah, right, that’s what my posts are). Plus, I don’t have any easy way to upload photographs, so I don’t even have any way to share good photos of the trip.
I’ll try to comment on anything interesting that happens, but until jet lag subsides, even that’s going to be a challenge.
For now you’ll have to content yourself with the knowledge that a 1-year old can produce mucho mucho vómito when airsickness strikes in the last ten minutes of a transatlantic flight.