By: Barry E. Prentice, PhD, President, Buoyant Aircraft Systems International
The transportation sector is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Although strenuous efforts have been to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emission, other sectors of the economy find it easier than transport to reduce the use of carbon fuels, for example by increasing building insulation. Transportation in general has a problem because vehicles are limited in size by engineering and infrastructure. The larger the fuel tank, the less space remains to carry cargo or passengers. The only economic fuel alternatives are portable high energy density energy sources, like kerosene and gasoline. With economic growth, the share of GHG emissions created by transportation is likely to rise.
As the world economy expands, the absolute growth of transportation-related GHG emissions can be expected to increase, even with technological advance. The current consumption of fuel by the global airlines is about 5 million barrels per day. In a recent article, Grote, Williams and Preston reach a gloomy conclusion about the future of aviation’s contribution to climate change. “If all mitigation-measures [for air travel] are successfully implemented, it is still likely that traffic growth-rates will continue to out-pace emissions reduction-rates.” Only a dramatic change in technology, like the use of airships can reduce the carbon emissions of air traffic.
Airships have yet to be embraced as a solution for decreasing air transport pollution, but the argument is easily made technically…