Why Not Start Saving the Biosphere by Outlawing Private Jets?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

This piece will be a little disjointed, I’m afraid, because saving the biosphere is a large topic, larger even than the aircraft industry, and I don’t feel I’ve quite mastered the material. Note that although the tone will be polemic, this is not a “Modest Proposal“; if indeed “the problem is as dire as much of the science suggests, the policies must match the rhetoric,” and that must include measures like that of the headline, and many more. So, consider this post a forcing device for further discussion. I’ll take a brief tour of the private jet aircraft industry — I’m mostly talking your basic Gulfstream rendition jet, not your Third World dictator Airbus or Boeing, and not your Piper Cub, or hospital helicopter — followed by discussion of the industry’s impact on the biosphere. From there, I’ll discuss how to get rid of them. Finally, I’ll deal with possible objections from the high net worth-owners of private jets. But first, I’ll answer the question in the title, aesthetically:

Figure 1: Luxe Interior

I submit that no artifact so symbolic of the costly bad taste and wretched excess of the rich should be permitted to exist. (Sadly, I can’t find an image of the interior of Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” that I can use. But it’s equally horrid, and so it should be.)

Second, logically, I suggest that those who can afford to own and run private jets should get rid of them, in their own best interests, as today’s equivalent of a “wartime sacrifice” in the fight to save the biosphere from cooking itself and everything in it. Basically, it’s the least they could do (“Paris Climate Accord Backers Won’t Say if They Support Ban on Private Jets“). The Windsors, after all, subsisted or were said to subsist on ration cards during World War II, and very successful propaganda it was for them, too. So much better than peasants burning the land records, eh? And what followed?

* * *

Now to the private aircraft industry. First, how many private jets are there? From Statista (2017), a handy chart

20,978 private aircraft, then, in the United States. (I’m going to assume that the Third World DIctatory-style private jets are a small fraction of this number, and that most are Gulfstreams, Bombardiers, Embraers, etc.). Of these, 13,392 (63%) are owned by “Ultra High Net Worth Individuals.” The balance would break down to corporations, and various forms of rental or fractional ownership. This breakdown is confirmed by departures. CNBC, citing to Knight Franks 2018 Wealth Report: “In the U.S. private ownership continues to lead the way with 62 percent of departures, charters in second place with 27 percent and fractional with 11 percent.” The Sherpa Report discusses costs:

The costs of buying and owning a plane vary by aircraft model. In very simple terms, the bigger the plane, the more it will cost to both buy and maintain. Age and usage also make a big difference to the initial cost of a plane. For instance, you can find 30+ year old light jets (such as a Learjet or a smaller Cessna) for well under $1m, whereas a brand new large, heavy jet (such as a big, long range Gulfstream) can cost over $70m, or over $100m if you want a custom fitted Airbus or Boeing.

Interestingly, millennial squillionaires are less interested in owning private jets. Aviation Pros:

There was a day when the super-rich bought a private jet to travel alone in peace or with the family. Those winds are shifting fast with the competitiveness of the charter segment, which hampers the attractiveness that owning a jet once had. Owners keep owning, but the new potential buyers are moving away from the high annual costs of owning their own aircraft and investing in the cost-efficiency that comes with renting one, thus avoiding the piling maintenance [?], insurance and hangarage costs. If you don’t fly more that 250 hours a year, then the private aviation standard calls for not buying.

Be that as it may, the biosphere cares about greenhouse gases (and probably other things), and not about financial engineering. So let’s turn to the effects on the biosphere of private jets. From Triple Pundit:

According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the global aviation industry accounts for 2 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (some put the number at closer to 3 percent). General aviation, including aircraft used for business, represents only 0.20 percent of the 36 giga-tons of global annual CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (and making cement).

That tiny percentage is understandably how industry prefers to portray its contribution to climate change, but aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions — contributing about 13 percent of all emissions from the transportation sector. There’s more to the story than just aggregate percentages.[1]

Now, 0.20 percent is not very much (actually less, since though the US has most of the jets, it doesn’t have all of them). If we think of tranches of CO2 that we want to reduce, this is a pretty thin tranche. On the other hand, we have pitchfork-worthy headlines like this:

(And all of those planes look like Figure 1 on the inside. Or worse.) ~0.2% is small, it’s true, but political support (leaving aside lobbyists) for this squillionaire banditry — you saw what happened to Howard Schultz last week — cannot be high. Claiming this ~0.2% tranche to save the biosphere ought to be a reasonably unheavy lift. If we can’t deal with a mere 20,978 machines, 13,392 of which owned by individuals with names and addresses[2], what can we do? (Caveat that what follows will be extremely crude; general aviation is a big field, and I don’t intend to get rid of tiny propellor aircraft like Piper Cubs, or hospital helicopters, or fire planes. I do want to get rid of any jet aircraft that has, had, or could have an interior like that in Figure 1.)

So, to get rid of private jets , so loosely defined, and claim our ~0.2% tranche of C02, what would we have to do? Spitballing here:

1) Mothball all private jets in the “Airplane Graveyard” in the Mojave desert.

2) Invalidate all private jet permitting to take off or land, at any airport in the United States (This should also apply to international private jets attempting to land here.) I don’t know how this would be done bureaucratically; perhaps by de-accessioning the tail numbers?

3) As with the UK’s Slave Compensation Act of 1837, compensate the owners — as opposed to burning the land records — using whatever the equivalent of Blue Book Value might be. (Say, 20,978 * $3,000,000 = $62,934,000,000, call it $63 billion if my math is correct, which is real money, but not compared to one-third of the economy, and anyhow, the compensation might be stretched out. Or perhaps we could let them write the planes off on their taxes. If they have not already done so.)

The goal is to get the private jet aircraft out of the sky, because that’s the simplest and least game-able way to claim our ~0.2% tranche of C02.[3]

* * *

Some may think my methods are unsound. There will be objections:

(1) “We won’t be able to escape to our bunker in New Zealand!” I thought you were raising an objection?

(2) “We won’t be able to visit our trans-Pacific suppliers!” Teleconference.

(3) “We’d have to fly commercial and use ordinary airports.”. Perhaps that will help with your empathy problems.

(4) “We value our privacy.” Fly less.

(5) “Our time is valuable.” I’m not no sure. Thorstein Veblen makes the following distinction between business and industry:

In proportion as the machine industry gained ground, and as the modern concatenation of industrial processes and of markets developed, the conjunctures of business grew more varied and of larger scope at the same time that they became more amenable to shrewd manipulation. The pecuniary side of the enterprise came to require more unremitting attention, as the chances for gain or loss through business relations simply, aside from mere industrial efficiency, grew greater in number and magnitude. The same circumstances also provoked a spirit of business enterprise, and brought on a systematic investment for gain. With a fuller development of the modern close-knit and comprehensive industrial system, the point of chief attention for the business man has shifted from the old-fashioned surveillance and regulation of a given industrial process, with which his livelihood was once bound up, to an alert redistribution of investments from less to more gainful ventures, and to a strategic control of the conjunctures of business through shrewd investments and coalitions with other business men.

How much of this “valuable” time is taken up with “strategic control of the conjunctures of business” — which some might put under the heading of “The Bezzle” — as opposed to the socially valuable work of industrial production? I would bet a lot. (Financial time is quicker than industrial time, perhaps.) Maybe this whole program would pay for itself by eliminating a ton of useless mergers and acquisition deals, and a lot of fraud. In any case, the Captains of Industry in the Nineteenth Century used to ride the rails in luxury sleeping cars. Add connectivity, and do that. If it’s good enough for Andrew Carnegie, it’s good enough for you!

And although this one is highly unlikely, at least from the squillionaires:

(6) “But what about the workers?” Well, in the worst case, that’s why we’re going to need a Jobs Guarantee, to handle the dislocations. Sadly, jobs in the aircraft industry are very well-paying, as they should be. But since this proposal is part of mobilizing the country and putting it on a war-time footing, it’s very hard for me to imagine that the industry’s engineering and manufacturing skills can’t be repurposed for some other, better purpose (like Ford making tanks during World War II).

* * *

Rough and ready though this example of “government assisted creative destruction,” as Yves calls it, may be, I think we need a lot more examples like it — though better! At least I have pointed out to a tranche of CO2 to reclaim, and put forward a method for doing that, however much of a forcing device it may be. I wonder how many other (relatively) low-hanging fruit there may be?

NOTES

[1] Carbon is not the only issue with aircraft. More from Triple Pundit:

The impact of CO2 emissions on climate is the same irrespective of its source…. For NOx and H2O emissions, climate impact is localized and amplified at high altitude. Nitrogen oxides chemically react with light to form ozone (O3). The higher intensity of light in the upper atmosphere produces more ozone from NOx emissions, and these emissions have more influence on climate than those same emissions at ground level. Water vapor is a potent and short-lived greenhouse gas, present mostly at lower altitudes. Introducing H2O into the normally dry air of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere create the condensation trails we’ve all seen and possibly the formation of cirrus clouds. Since cirrus clouds don’t typically form in the upper atmosphere, there remains uncertainty as to the impact on climate, though studies suggest that these high-altitude clouds have an insulating effect, trapping heat. In the report Aviation and the Global Atmosphere, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determined that aviation emissions have about two times the impact as ground-based emissions.

[2] I’m leaving out the world of rendition, the Lolita Express, and every other world that might come into being in a lawless environment high up in the sky. William Gibson gives a vivid picture of this world in Spook Country. I don’t think getting rid of those worlds would be any great loss.

[3] “Get them out of the sky” as opposed to some screwed-together, ObamaCare-like, public relations-driven, and eminently game-able policy like carbon offsets.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

90 comments

  1. Linden S.

    This rocks. Actually trying to confront the problem. Your last comment and link made me think of this nightmare quote from Steve Pacala, one of the co-creators of the wedges:

    “Imagine a scenario where you fly over to Germany and burn aviation gas on the way over, but we have a direct air capture machine that for $100 a ton takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and puts it in the ground to compensate. And the question is, how much did that cleansing of the atmosphere cost in terms of the fuel? The answer is an extra dollar a gallon. So it’s going from say, $2.50 to $3.50 a gallon. Now, aviation biogas, which is the alternative, costs way more than that, and it takes land away from other uses that we need. If you could get [the carbon capture price] down to 50 cents a gallon to solve the carbon and climate problem, how great is that? Our panel thinks direct air capture could be brought into the marketplace in a heavy way within 10 years’ time.” From: https://e360.yale.edu/features/negative-emissions-is-it-feasible-to-remove-co2-from-the-air

    The line “..how great is that” is breathtaking.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This rocks. Actually trying to confront the problem

      Thank you, though it’s a crude attempt analytically. Crude solutions, however, should be our goal, IMNSHO! Simple and rugged is good. Better to mothball the jets than create some [family blogging] market for their emissions, e.g. But whether that should be done, or done first… The analysis for that can’t be crude.

      Adding, I’m saying tranche, but I mean wedge, because the last time I looked at climate at all seriously was an Elizabeth Kolbert three-part in the New Yorker, back when it was a better magazine, and I liked the concept. I still do, although I have a dim recollection that it was also a product of intra-climate change commumity political conflicts about which I knew nothing at the time.

      Do you thing the tranches/wedges paradigm makes sense?

      Adding… Just clicked through. Kolbert!

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        As a layperson, I found the tranche terminology obfuscatory at the time of the financial crisis. For the longest time I didn’t know what it was even.

        Basically, it’s a portion, a slice of the whole. In that regard, wedge makes more sense. Or just slice, which immediately makes me think pizza, or pie.

        Reply
      2. Linden S.

        >Do you thing the tranches/wedges paradigm makes sense?

        I think wedges are an OK place to start, because it does exactly what you did above: state the size of the problem relative to the whole. Project Drawdown kind of feels like a modern update to it. One of my problems with the wedges and Drawdown are that they seem to exert most of their effort stating the *what* of the problem but have few real strategies on fixing.

        The other part of the problem is that when the wedges were first created it seemed like indefinite carbon emissions (as long as they were decreasing) would be OK. Now that we have waited another 10+ years and almost no country is serious about moving off of fossil fuels, the question is “how can we transition as quickly as possible to a minimal CO2 economy without societal collapse?” Since that is the question, we can just look at every aspect the economy like you did above and say “what is the zero-CO2 version of this, and if there is none can we just get rid of it?” The wedges/drawdown can be useful for finding the easiest targets of opportunity and avoiding being distracted by small fish, but I think the questions are more radical now.

        Reply
  2. clarky90

    Re, Private jets, “It’s almost like there’s a neo-liberal playbook, isn’t there? No underpants gnomes, they! (1) Defund or sabotage, (2) Claim crisis, (3) Call for privatization… (4) Profit! [ka-ching].” (from links)

    It is always the peasants and kulaks that get lined up to “sacrifice” for “the good of the climate (or anything else signified as “crisis””. Meanwhile, the 0.01% zip around the world in their private jets. They conveniently skip being X-rayed and prodded at boarders.

    Richard Branson finds plastic rubbish at the bottom of the Belize Blue Hole (smiling innocently, and with words of heart-felt concern for Mother Earth)

    https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/journey-bottom-belize-blue-hole

    “As for the mythical monsters of the deep? Well, the real monsters facing the ocean are climate change – and plastic. Sadly, we saw plastic bottles at the bottom of the hole, which is a real scourge of the ocean. We’ve all got to get rid of single-use plastic. Virgin Voyages, which kindly sponsored the expedition, is leading the charge. Our team all feel passionately about the environment. With every item we buy, every piece of food we serve, the environmental impact is paramount. There will be no single-use plastic on-board.”

    Richard Branson is fighting for………

    Reply
  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    Your answers to potential objections are spot on, except for the first. Anyone who makes that objection won’t be convinced by your answer (thinking libertarian).

    Agree with Veblen: this is a bunch of facilitated schmoozing at the expense of labor and the planet. The rich getting richer.

    So the current “standard” is you don’t get a private jet unless you fly the equivalent of six 40-hr weeks (250 hrs) a year. Maybe I’m doing the math wrong but seems a low bar

    The most interesting linked interiors seem to fall into two categories, Jetsons and traditional (wood as opposed to molded plastic, etc.). The bathroom has the greatest wow factor for me, having struggled with those ever more cramped toilets.

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      I have no huge objection to the very rich flying in first class. They can have their privacy, space, sleep and prestige. But they are still on the same airplane as the rest of us. They then can fashionably (piggishly) emit four or five times as much carbon as those traveling in economy class. With the private jet, I suspect that the carbon emissions, per passenger mile, are hundreds or thousands of times more than from a commercial flight. This is not fashionable but immoral, imo.

      Also, how much carbon is being emitted by the Military? Why not end all wars, in order to “save the environment”, and ameliorate “climate change”? This makes more sense than getting rid of plastic straws…… fighting but never winning……..lol

      Reply
  4. Another Scott

    What’s next? Ban yachts? More seriously, what about smaller private planes? Should they be banned as well. The flights aren’t as long as those for the private jets you discussed, but they appear to be primarily flown as hobbies by people with above-average income.

    I think this is a very good, practical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing the jets, which like most goods consumption, is almost always ignored in these discussions. Mining metals for the planes has significant impact on the surrounding areas, so they would likely benefit as well.

    Reply
      1. jrs

        shouldn’t we ban air planes in general before that point? I mean if you have to take a vacation (ok really noone has to take a vacation) aren’t cruise ships much better than any type of flying?

        Reply
        1. watermelon

          I wanted an answer to this question so I did a search which led to a vox article which added a few more reasons for me not to go on a cruise (I already had a few). I haven’t been on an airplane since 2007. I’d been taking road trips, with my spouse, and wondered if that was worse. But from what I read, a couple taking a car trip is about break even with flying, and adding a 3rd person to the car would make it better than flying.
          I couldn’t find a comparison to the cruise, which is harder because you’d have to compare ‘vacation days’ rather than miles & passengers – but it sounds like cruise ships might be worse on several points in regards to the environment, and that article linked to another article that said the environmental footprint of a person is 3 times more on a cruise ship than on land.
          The vox article is titled “The case against cruises” & it’s from 11/2018

          Reply
        2. polecat

          Why not just ban* the entire 20%ers on up … that would do quite a lot to resolve, or at least dampen many of the issues of elite psychopathy that plague the rest of humanity.

          *think of it this way – in theory, elites are the new clubbed seals …

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            Now, now, no violence.

            There are several possible remedial approaches.

            I wish I could find a source to fill in the details, but a colleague spent some time with a historian in Venice. The historian said the Venetian elites would from time to time become concerned when one of their members looked to be starting a power grab or otherwise trying to impose authoritarian rules.

            I’m not sure about the legal or extra legal process, but the remedy was to put him in solitary for 18 months or so. He’d be well fed and in decent quarters, but isolated.

            They’d come out quite meek after that.

            The other remedy is to make them do a year of farmwork, the hard stuff like picking berries, so as to appreciate the work other people have been doing for them.

            Reply
            1. polecat

              Yves, I jest .. barely. These people are going to do us all in by their quest for either wealth, power, indifference, or hubris, or any combination thereof. What’s to be done about these freaks ?? If your looking to have some of them to contain the worst impulses/bad policies/awful behaviors of the other miscreants, I still don’t see how that strategy really changes the impending issues that us as a species need to address, while simultaniously trying to dodging the least of the worst !

              Reply
  5. Fred

    We had 2 investors who owned our company from NYC. They came out for a visit and they each took a private plane, and they each rode in a limo. They both arrived within an hour of each other and left together. Time (their time obviously) was worth more than the cost of the planes which the company pays for and is deducted from taxes.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, one bit Lambert didn’t flag in his post is that private equity is a huge user of private jets. Sometimes the fund manager owns them, which then means it leases them to the funds for use, meaning it serves as another source of profit for the general partner. And if you follow the tail numbers of the jets owned by PE funds, you see a large number of them converging on the Super Bowl and being used on Valentine’s Day and to vacation destinations around major holidays. Pretty much no one I know who knows the way of PE thinks that those flight costs are being borne by individual employees of those funds.

      The limited partnership agreements not only allow for the use of private jets, some allow for family members to fly on them too!

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        Do you not know of the tax break for private aviation? I believe it was pushed through by Sen. Metzenbaum years ago. Basically, if the CEO uses the plane for non-business travel, he has to reimburse the company for the equivalent first class airfare for each passenger – the rest of the actual cost (which could well be 25x higher) is just eaten by the company. And if his contract says the exec has to fly private “for security reasons,” he only has to pay half as much. It’s a very popular clause in executive contracts.

        Because of the fractional ownership plans, those 20,000 planes are being used by somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people these days – so it’s the top 0.03%. It’s their most valued perk and as Charlton Heston used to say, you will have to pry it out of their cold, dead hands.

        Reply
  6. Alfred

    The characterization of that interior as an instance of “bad taste” obscures the historical fact that it exemplifies the recent, 21st-century rehabilitation of 20th-century organic design. Modern organic design is generally considered to trace its origins back to the theories of Louis Sullivan, but it was Frank Lloyd Wright who in the 1930s turned organicism into a cult, and a cult of Wright who in the 1940s linked it to the enthusiasts of Ayn Rand. In the meantime organic trends in design had hybridized in America with surrealism in art, whose close association with right-wing politics was never concealed. Immediately following World War II, the United States exported organic design to Italy in one of the first and most sustained campaigns to Americanize the continent on which the key struggles of the Cold War were to be centered, In 1953, in a notorious editorial in House Beautiful, Elizabeth Gordon linked organic trend to American resistance to socialism; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gordon_(editor) . By 1960 organic architecture dominated what had become increasingly seen, or portrayed, as an organic ‘movement’. In the 1960s and 1970s it was the self-expressive choice of such figures as Barry Goldwater and Sam Walton when they commissioned notable and luxurious houses for themselves. The full extent to which organic design supported the ascendancy of American libertarianism in the second half of the twentieth century, and continues to do so today, seems never to have been explored. Numerous clues, however, do point to a connection. It is significant that the (liberal-identified) proponents of ‘corporate modernism’ in the postwar period disdained organic architecture and frequently reviled its products as kitsch. It was perhaps in that vein that the curvaceous, fur-lined interior of Barbarella’s spaceship (in the 1968 film by Roger Vadim) was designed as an apparent parody of the ‘organic taste’. In any event, the otherworldly, Barbarellan environment is the obvious formal source of the curvaceous, leather-lined interior (with its bear-claw-patterned carpeting) depicted in this post, which was evidently designed — in the post-post-modern manner — with no sense of irony; cf. https://actadinerda.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-cult-of-kitsch-barbarella-1968/ . Being essentially unironic, the contemporary aircraft interior can only be taken as a ‘straight’ expression of wealth and privilege, whose existence the thoroughgoing use of organic forms and materials ‘naturalizes’. (Here I think it is important to recall that not only leathers, but also plastic, are carbon-based, hence chemically ‘organic’.) The ‘organic revival’ extends beyond private plane interiors to those of commercial aircraft, so that those familiar (or familiarized) with both ‘kinds’ of environment can instantly perceive their aesthetics as ‘democratic’ (Wright’s term for the socio-political meaning inherent in organic design). Indeed it seems like such an obvious choice for the design of all airborne cabins and their fixtures that all fliers may be forgiven for believing that nowadays ‘there is no alternative’.

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Fascinating stuff, thanks. Appreciate design but not a student of it so had no idea of the connection between organic and right-wing/libertarian. I always associated it with the 60s and before that art nouveau.

      Reply
      1. jsn

        Wright tended left and was certainly libertine. His quotes from a 1957 Mike Wallace interview here capture the spirit.

        Wright was personally something of a monster, demanding absurd things of his academic charges at Taliesin and was certainly antisemitic.

        But politically this exchange,
        “Wallace asked: “You’ve heard of Charlie Chaplin’s anti-Americanism?”
        Wright replied: “Is there anything more anti-American than McCarthyism?””
        sums it up nicely, and he was avidly, outspokenly anti-war.

        Reply
          1. Alfred

            Yes, that piece is very good. I thank you for posting the link to some very useful research. I had seen it but lost track of it. And I appreciate even more the link to the article quoting the Mike Wallace interview, which I had not seen.

            Reply
        1. Alfred

          I hate to make an argument of this, because it’s really a distraction from the thrust of the original post; but the fact is that Wright’s politics (unsurprisingly) shifted over his lifespan. Wright often expressed himself in quips (like the one quoted, which deflected a direct question) and other forms of slippery wordplay. I take most experts to believe that his thought was more indelibly marked by that of Henry George than by anyone else’s. Whether George counts as a leftist is not something I can easily assess. That organic design may have sometimes succeeded as an art in the service of 20th-century socialism I am willing to concede. But examples of its appeal to right-wing ideologies and clients are easy to come by, and I cited some. One of them is the interior of that private airplane. Its design betrays a clear debt to a set of ideas to which Wright contributed heavily, though not solely, and over whose implementation he never had exclusive control. I originally contributed my remarks because I think it fascinating to ponder the implications of individual corporate leaders flying around in crafts furnished largely with carbon-based materials and powered by carbon-based fuels, even as those leaders resist efforts to curb the carbon-linked destruction of our common biosphere by the interests they govern so as to generate the profits that purchase those same polluting crafts — whose elegant insides present as masterworks of ‘timeless’, ‘natural’ organic design. Actually I don’t believe ‘left’ and ‘right’ prove very helpful in sorting out such entanglements of culture, technology, finance, and politics so complex as to defeat the power of conventional syntax to describe them.

          Reply
    1. Joe Kapoe

      If you think of the military as the security force for 1%-ers and Wall Street (as Smedley Butler claimed), cutting the whole military in half or better still, down to the combined military budgets of China and Russia, would go further in reducing greenhouse gasses than banning private jets. This could be the alternative to offer the private jet owners after they say don’t mess with our jets! OK, we’ll meet you halfway.

      Reply
  7. Shom

    Hey, another govt-assisted creative-destruction idea:

    all public funds made available for fundamental research via any outlet (NIH / NSF / DARPA / DoE / DoD etc.) explicitly prohibits using any part of the funding for conference junkets that involves air travel. Or at the very least, prices in the true environmental cost, not just the cost charged by the airline.

    Simple, effective changes that no truly concerned scientist will object to, indeed volunteer (one hopes).

    Reply
  8. Jeff

    Apologies for side-tracking the discussion, but two technical points:
    1. This article didn’t appear in my RSS reader. All others seem to be there.
    2. In the past, I got a tweet as soon as a new article launched. Nowadays, I get no tweet, or only a variable amount of hours later.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      I’m sorry, I just resynched the feed.

      We don’t control either service so I am afraid there is nothing we can do. Although I don’t ever recall a time when our tweets came immediately after a post went live.

      Reply
  9. Hubert Horan

    One of the counterarguments you will get is that much of corporate aviation isn’t venture capitalists flying duplicate flights in jets with super-luxury appointments into Teterboro (instead of commercial flights into EWR or LGA), but are planes serving industries such as ranching and mining transporting actual working people to very remote locations where there are no commercial flights within hundreds of miles. I have no idea what the actual mix of corporate jet usage is, but the obvious alternative to an outright ban is an onerous fuel tax plus a graduated luxury tax whenever planes change hands (higher on Gulfstream jets than hobbyist Cessnas) plus landing fee surcharges at airports within reasonable distance of commercial airports.
    Separate from the CO2 issue is the absurd use of corporate aviation at crowded commercial airports. The Corporate Aviation Lobby has always protected the traditional system of setting landing fees based on aircraft weights, even though the Gulfstream and the A380 use the same amount of scarce runway capacity. Under the (not unreasonable) law airports can’t set whatever landing fees they like, since they have an effective monopoly, and landing fees have to be based on actual airport costs. Current fees are set (in simple terms) by dividing total airport costs by the total gross weight of the airplanes landing there. But the law would permit setting flat rates per landing (divide total costs by total landings), and you’d suddenly stop seeing corporate jets at LAX and ORD. And you’d increase airline competition (Delta and American couldn’t “fill up” LGA with 50 seats planes to limit Southwest and Jetblue). And shifting commercial traffic from lots of smaller planes to a smaller number of bigger planes would save fuel and reduce per passenger emissions.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      Great ideas. You just pointed out another subsidy for the .01% – the way landing fees are structured to benefit them.

      Reply
  10. Eddie Torres

    Flying high somewhere over the intersection of tax expenditure / national security state / investor deception:

    (1) NYT, 2012: “Dozens of corporate boards, including those of Halliburton, Kraft, Home Depot and Waste Management, insist or recommend that their top executives fly on private jets for security reasons… If an outside security consultant determines that executives need a private jet and other services for their safety, the IRS cuts corporate chieftains a break… Northrop Grumman spent $174,953 last year to cover the tax bill for Mr. Coleman’s personal air travel.” — https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/for-some-corporate-chiefs-private-security-is-a-tax-break/

    (2) CPI, 2011: “…the BARR program currently allows 7,000 of the estimated 223,900 active jets to obscure their movements… many companies could be misleading investors and the SEC about the extent to which the jets were being used for private purposes.” — https://publicintegrity.org/federal-politics/barr-battle-obama-administration-to-make-more-corporate-jet-data-public-despite-flak/

    (3) Guardian, 2013: “NASA’s Ames Research Centre… has been leasing space in one of its aircraft hangers to H211, a private company which manages the planes owned and leased by Google execs Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt – comprising a Boeing 757 and 767, three Gulfstream 5 private jets and a Dassult alpha jet (classified by aircraft books as a ‘light attack jet’)… Google’s executives have been getting cheap flights for their private planes due to a ‘misunderstanding’ that led Google to buy fuel from from NASA at cut prices… since the inception of its lease, H211 paid approximately $3.3m to $5.3m less for fuel supplied by DLA-Energy than it would have paid to buy fuel at market rates.” — https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/dec/12/nasa-fuel-saves-google-execs-millions-private-jet-flights

    Reply
  11. Shonde

    Doesn’t Warren Buffet own one of the charter jet businesses? Maybe his philanthropic arm could buy out that business and destroy the jets as a donation to climate change mitigation?

    Seriously, have you ever researched the funding of airports for many of these private jets? I think most believe they make use of the same airports utilized by the monopoly alrlines. Some do but many general aviation airports across the United States have been funded by our tax dollars through the FAA to increase their run way lengths to accommodate these private jets especially the Gulfstreams. The little putt putt planes are being pushed out of the more elite GA airports to accommodate the very rich.

    Personally I would like every airport to be funded totally by user fees just like the toll roads being foisted on us. The FAA can still exist to regulate airspace but no longer have a building and maintenance role.

    I was encouraged by the outrage I saw when the public learned about the Bezos helipad requirement for the Amazon expansion. Perhaps some media savvy pol can start asking how our country has the funds to build and expand airports for the .01% but yet has no extra money to house all the homeless?

    I honestly don’t think the 99% really knows the multitude of taxpayer subsidies, our money, that allow the rich to keep getting richer at our expense. So lets embarrass the .01% into using monopoly airlines and ditching their private jets.

    Reply
  12. bmeisen

    Sounds good but … the current aviation business model – propelling relatively heavy tonnage over great distances at 500 mph by burning kerosene – will collapse in 5 years. (I’ve been claiming this for at least 10 years.) If depletion doesn’t do it then devastating sea-level rise will compel authorities to dismantle large-scale kerosene-based commercial aviation. Private jets serving political leaders and the super-rich will be the only jets in the air other than the military’s cargo jumbos and drones.

    Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    I think that there is something not mentioned here as a substitute to private jets and that is luxurious ocean liners. Newer ones can be designed not to belch so much smoke though I read that being on the decks of one was like living in a smoggy city street as far as your health was concerned. Up until a few decades ago this was the way that wealthy people traveled and could be once again. A trip from the UK to New York would only take a few days which would be a great occasion to network, to make deals and negotiate relationships. A bonus for rich, wealthy people is that the press would wait their arrival at the docks to take photograph them and to interview them. It had an element of glamour about it which would appeal to the rich and the cabins could be made luxurious enough to put the Titanic to shame.

    Reply
    1. Sutter Cane

      Fine, if working people also get a month or more of vacation time to allow enough time for them to travel overseas, as well.

      Given the two weeks (if that) that I’ve ever been allowed for a vacation, I never would have been able to see the world if it weren’t for the cheap red eye international flight.

      Reply
  14. meddle

    What about the workers? You need to know the Lucas Plan.
    UK 1974-75. Complete plan for converting Lucas Aerospace’s military production to civilian engineering products. Initiated and developed by company workforce/unions, especially militant shop-floor union leaders (shop stewards). Big thing at the time.

    Reply
  15. Jeremy Grimm

    If someone can figure out how to do it — I think it would be great to ban private aircraft — including small jets, airplanes, AND helicopters. I believe there may be some highly restricted and controlled need for small jets, airplanes, and helicopters that should be highly taxed and carefully managed to indeed satisfy a PUBLIC need. Our ‘betters’ should be using the same public transportation we all share and enjoy the same joys of dealing with TSA and the comforts of cattle class with the rest of us. I would eliminate first-class on all airlines and regulate cattle class to some more reasonable ‘trade-off’ between cost and comfort. We should live in one Society not one Society for our ‘betters’ and another for the rest of us. While we are ridding ourselves of the aircraft we must also shutdown all the little community airports that contribute so much noise pollution to local communities. We also need to get rid of police and private drones and the aircraft the police send out to spy on our communities. And I should make clear I believe all these things should and must be done whether these aircraft contribute to CO2 or not. Private aircraft are just plain a public nuisance and an unnecessary source of noise pollution. Their proliferation is a blatant intrusion of the rights of a very small and odious minority into the rights of a far far larger majority. [Kinda makes one wonder what kind of democracy we’re running these days.]

    Reply
    1. jrs

      Can we please get rid of military jets at sports events. TALK ABOUT CARBON WASTE!!! Pointless, stupid, and MIC propaganda, and we can work to ban this locally, as it happens locally. Think globally, act locally in this case.

      Reply
  16. Michael

    What confuses me on the computation of CO2 costs of air travel are the widely differing estimations. Just calculating CO2 some claim approximately the equivalent of 25 mpg/seat. Others say it is six to seven times higher if you include the pollution from nitrous oxide, benzene, etc. I would like to find an accurate estimation, and would propose a carbon tax based upon those numbers.

    I’m thinking a more effective approach in conjunction with developing a carbon tax, would be to implement a shaming campaign to anyone who flies private, and also use that also as a basis for developing substitution technology.

    My motto for all of this is “stop digging the hole!”

    Reply
  17. charles 2

    A much better idea is to prescribe and enforce a mandate that private jets should be exclusively fuelled with kerosene produced with negative greenhouse gas emission. Not a crappy offset with planting tree in the Amazon that nobody can really check. Really taking CO2 from the environment and making it into jet fuel. The technology is almost there ( a video for a recent update). A guaranteed outlet would help oil companies to commit capital in the technology. Once matured the mandate could be extended to the share of commercial flights that carries business passengers, then all commercial flights.

    Reply
    1. Jeff

      Ha. The Wikipedia link includes “Because the process requires a large input of electrical energy…”.
      Once again, if you want to produce ‘fuel’ (something that delivers energy when burning), you need to spend energy in creating the fuel, and you’ll spend a disproportionate amount more than you get back. Typical example: the electrolysis process to create hydrogen consumes about 5 times as much energy than you get by burning the hydrogen.
      It’s like skiing. The only way to go downhill is spending time and energy in getting up there in the first place.

      Reply
      1. charles 2

        I knew that. But efficiency is a tricky concept with transportation. After all, if friction is absent, it takes practically zero energy to go from point A to point B, however distant they are ; so the real challenge is to limit friction, and most friction occurs from the outside of the vehicle body to the surrounding environment. Consequently the low density of air at high altitude is a huge factor in favour of airplanes, which are nowhere near optimised for low fuel consumption yet, due to the extremely low price of fossil carbon based fuel when pollution externalities are not taken in account. Consider for instance the aurora project.
        Kerosene can be produced from carbon free electricity, solar, wind or nuclear. The H2 and CO2 feedstock can be produced at a much better efficiency than 20%. and 100% is not needed : if overall a plane endures on average 50% less friction across its flight than, say, a land based high speed train, 50% efficiency for conversion of electricity to fuel would be enough.
        Note that a lot of the friction in the flight is in take off and landing phase, where the plane is at lower altitudes. So short flights imply more friction. This is why big countries with big distances such as Canada, US or Russia favours planes over train, and small countries like France opted for the train.

        Reply
  18. Steely Glint

    This is the first discussion on the biosphere I’ve read on NC where the word “telecommute” was used. Although in relation to private airplanes, I wonder if a study has ever been done (big data and all) of all jobs that could be done via telecommunication were done that way & the affects it would have on over-all transportation reduction/CO2 emissions. In the early 2000’s telecommunication was a hot topic that got disparaged (ergonomics, insurance costs, etc.). A side benefit might be better/faster broadband coverage for all. My spouse & I were able to telecommute for a couple of years, and we experienced better production, considerably less transportation costs, and reduced stress levels.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      If we all telecommute, who is gonna pay rent to the .01 who own all those office buildings? Does that answer your question?
      And then of course there is that big lobby called the Building Industry Association.

      Reply
    1. Red

      Yea me too. So much effort for 0.2% of CO2 and through tax breaks! Laughable! How about that 70% top income tax rate and a massive increase in corporate taxes to make private jets unaffordable along with massive funding into alternative cleaner fuels and aircraft tech?

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        So you believe taxes are needed to fund alternative fuels?
        I believe taxes like that are needed so we can shrink the income disparity of the top 0.1% to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Shhh!MR SUBLIMINAL No, only an idiot a deeply unserious person would think so

          Seriously, if the elites won’t give up the smallest luxury, how can they expect the rest of us to make major sacrifices? Na ga happen.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            Lambert, would this not pertain to the Science community, indeed, the whole of STEMerania as well, and not just the elites as we perceive them ?? … because, with very few exceptions, I don’t see them stepping up to the plate either !

            Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I tend to agree with you. I’m not so concerned with the CO2 from private jets, airplanes, helicopters, and drones, along with various police vehicles of intimidation and surveillance. But I am very pissed off about the class war aspect. It’s bad enough we lost the class wars and are supposed to meekly tread off to our places in the gulags, but the harassment, the noise pollution, the in-your-face obnoxiousness of the aircraft is a real thumb in our collective eye.

        I believe that most, if not all local airports were origially there as a landing and storage areas for crop dusters back when many areas were agricultural. I am not at all impressed by the willingness of local city councils and county governments to grandfather these airports as they fostered the development of the surrounding areas for housing developments. I used to live in a reasonably up-scale development near an old dust croppers airport. Small and large planes were constantly taking off and landing and their flight paths took them low to the ground and all around a wide swath of the neighborhood. The entire neighborhood came together to raise the issue of closing the airport up with the city council. The council meeting was standing room only. Our mayor and coucil went through the motions of reviewing all old business — ad nauseum — dragging any hearing of new business until after 10 PM. When new business came up we were allowed to speak one-by-one and then mayor got up and gave a little speech to tell us the city council could do nothing about the airport because it was handled as a matter at the state level — sorry, and have a good night. Even if we all pooled our combined savings for our kids college funds and cashed in our retirement funds the community didn’t have enough money to get a state legislator to listen, and forget about trying to get a state law in the works. So how is it that a matter like local airports became an issue under state control? And of course few if any of us had the wealth to enjoy the ‘benefits’ of the local airport. Tell me class warfare had nothing to do with it.

        Reply
        1. Shonde

          I was part of a group that attempted to close a small municipal GA airport in California. The airport was bleeding red ink since the city was charging under local rate for hanger rental (noise issue also). At the next municipal election, candidates emerged for city council with huge donations from local, state and national pilot associations. Suddenly that airport became a major economic generator in piece after piece of full size colored campaign lit. Boy, I did not know I was attempting to deprive our military of future pilots until that campaign. The council majority became airport supporters.
          Then the FAA stepped in, at the request of local politicians, and we were told absolutely that the FAA controlled GA airport closure and no way would they give permission. I later read that when the Chicago mayor could not get permission to close a local airport, he just sent bulldozers out in the middle of the night to demolish it.

          Reply
      2. Ignacio

        It is a symbolic measure. It has an impact well beyond the greenhouse gases emission avoided. When it comes the turn of the average Joe to sacrifice the presence of those gulfstream in the skyes and airports becomes so anthiestetic.

        Reply
    2. bob

      Tone policing via concern trolling.

      Step up your game and go full on snitch-

      “I’d like to speak to your manager”

      Reply
        1. Jerry

          I did not intend to aim at your ego. I thought this was about climate change. This private jet solution has the ring of the old admonition: Don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax that fellow behind the tree.

          The climate debate is dominated by two factions: those who would do nothing about it; and those who want someone else to change first. Not many have sworn off air travel altogether or given up pleasure driving or moved into smaller houses or even put on sweater. It’s going to require a lot more than grounding a few jets if we are to keep Miami above water.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It’s going to require a lot more than grounding a few jets if we are to keep Miami above water.

            You don’t help your case by making up straw men. I am fully aware, and state, that many tranches must be layered up.

            Reply
  19. coboarts

    After planting trees, the tranche/wedge approach is the best idea I’ve ever heard. This focused approach will make real progress to reducing the stated risks of climate change. Tranche by tranche, our civilization’s current practices can be analyzed, evaluated, and amended. This would facilitate a transition to a truly sustainable civilization. The same approach can be used with tranches/streams of pollution. This can be done, all in the open. We don’t have to throw human development out with the less than sustainable practices we’ve allowed to operate. The greatest opposition to this, besides all the whining that will come, is the insanity of claiming that everything must go, now. Purposeful, planned, step by step is how it will be done right. Freaking out won’t work, neither will waiting for the government. Way to go, Lambert!

    Reply
  20. John B

    The situation is even worse than Lambert’s article indicates.

    Under the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), international flights are supposed to reduce their CO2 emissions or, more likely, offset them by performing activities like reforestation. CORSIA does not apply to domestic flights, and it is questionable how useful these offsetting activities will be, but some of them are probably better than nothing. The aim is to keep emissions from international flights from increasing (net of the “offsets”) starting in 2020, despite the anticipated surge in international flights as the Chinese and others start flying more.

    Modest as these efforts are, CORSIA contains the following exemption (from ICAO Resolution A39-3 (2016)) :

    notwithstanding with the provisions above, the CORSIA does not apply to low
    levels of international aviation activity with a view to avoiding administrative burden: aircraft operators
    emitting less than 10,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions from international aviation per year; aircraft
    with less than 5,700 kg of Maximum Take Off Mass (MTOM); or humanitarian, medical and firefighting
    operations;

    In other words, if I understand this correctly, most private jets are exempt from any requirements to offset their carbon. But why not give billionaires the same treatment as medical and humanitarian missions? Billionaires’ contributions to humanity have surely earned them the same right to be exempt from vexing paperwork.

    Reply
  21. Carolinian

    Thanks for the post. Just an anecdote–my brother and I are airplane geeks and when he’s in town we visit the local municipal airport. A few months ago there were about a dozen private jets sitting on the tarmac and inquiries revealed that the planes were owned by universities whose coaches were in town to scout players at a basketball clinic. So a) our supposedly money starved major colleges own multimillion dollar airplanes (or charter them expensively) and b) if you are an individual whose social importance is high–a star college coach for example–you can’t be bothered to take the 20 minute ride into town from the commercial airport.

    As for banning private jets, the government is doing just the opposite and encouraging their spread. That same municipal airport just spent 30 million federal dollars to lengthen their runway.

    Reply
    1. Altandmain

      Talk about priorities … sports over anything else.

      Education, research, paying adjuncts fair wages, etc, are all much better priorities. This whole rotten system of universities and their sports is going to crash in on itself.

      Looks like there is an article on this:
      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/flying-coach-many-universities-are-using-private-planes/

      Equally crazy these days is how much coaches are apparently paid at universities. Hint: They are top paid coaches are paid millions of dollars.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/06/opinion/joe-nocera-the-price-of-glory.html

      Meanwhile tuition fees keep going up for students, adjuncts often live in poverty, and research is starving for funds. This is just insane. I also find that in American culture, questioning the sports culture is often taboo and can get you quickly socially ostracized so I don’t do so when I’m in the US.

      Reply
  22. integer

    Sadly, I can’t find an image of the interior of Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express” that I can use. But it’s equally horrid, and so it should be.

    I read somewhere that Epstein’s private jet had a sectioned off area with a closing door and large bed in it.

    Reply
  23. Pat

    Not quite as good as banning them, but how about a sin tax based on the amount of space per passenger beyond the space allocated for a first class commercial passenger and Max speed for private aircraft with exemptions for emergency and medical purpose use. Something along the lines of $20 per foot above average times multiplied by (5 x max speed divided by 50) for every passenger per flight. More people on the flight, more space deducted from the extra space for their first class space, so one and two passenger flights become even more expensive. Could be hundreds of thousands of dollars per flight.

    Sort of a reverse means test to ween them off private flight by punishing them for their profligate ways. /S

    Reply
    1. Skip Intro

      Interesting. I was envisioning a divide and conquer approach, where locals pressure local governments to apply private jet landing and take-off fees to the corporate aviation landing strips. A $5million landing fee and $20 million take off fee would probably change the calculus a bit, and since the fees would be cash up front, many airports could end up with stranded planes they could have dismantled for offset credits, or cash. As the range of available airports to land at was restricted, the utility of these jets would decrease.

      “All of your bases are belong to us”

      Reply
  24. integer

    FWIW, if there are 50k private/charter jets and they collectively create 0.2%, or 0.002, of global CO2 emissions, then each private/charter jet puts out 1/25e6 of global CO2 emissions. Assuming there are 8 billion people in the world, and each person creates an equal amount of CO2, then over a given period of time, say 1 year, each private/charter jet creates the same amount of CO2 emissions as 320.64 people. Of course, the assumption that each person on the face of the earth is responsible for the same amount of CO2 emissions is so unrealistic that it renders this calculation pretty much meaningless.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      The problem is, and Lambert didn’t get to it in the post, is that greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere where airplanes fly have a much bigger impact than at sea level. So the raw percentages don’t tell the story. It’s late so I am being bad and punting on supplying details but hopefully an obliging reader will help.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere where airplanes fly have a much bigger impact than at sea level

        I buried this in footnote [1]: “aviation emissions have about two times the impact as ground-based emissions.”

        Reply
        1. integer

          Interesting. I must admit I only glanced at the footnotes. As I mentioned, the assumptions the calculation is based on are so flawed that the number I arrived at is essentially meaningless, however if the emissions from private jets are doubled then the number becomes 642.57. This number is lower than it should be because the number of private jets appears to be closer to 30k. Anyway, in case anyone is wondering why the result is not exactly double the previous result, it is because if private jets make up 0.2% of CO2 emissions, then all other emissions make up 99.8% of total emissions, whereas if private jets make up 0.4% of CO2 emissions, then all other emissions make up 99.6% of total emissions, so the emissions for each of the 8 billion people become marginally lower. In any case, I’m just playing around with the numbers, and certainly don’t think the result has any value. Emissions are an interesting topic though, so perhaps at some point I will have a closer look at the myriad confounding variables.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I don’t think the numbers can be calculated with much precision; the systems are too complex and there are too many unknowns. But then the Estates General didn’t wait for precise budget figures either, then, did they?

            Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link, drumlin. I had no idea that Tasmania was going to cop it so bad. I guess that at the back of my mind I was kinda hoping that being so far south that they may have dodged the worse of it. Looks like nobody is going to escape climate change.

      Reply
  25. John A

    As I understand it, a huge number of private jets rare actually registered in the Isle of Man, a tax haven island between England and Ireland for various tax advantages the island offers. One such owner is, or was, Lewis Hamilton, who was ‘forced’ to move from England to Switzerland because, in his own words, ‘he could not walk down the street in England without being asked for an autograph’.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/06/isle-of-man-refunds-super-rich-private-jets-paradise-papers

    Reply
  26. Ignacio

    Bravo Lambert!!!

    I like very much your approach and 100% agree with this -not verbatim- “if we cannot deal with 20.000 planes we cannot deal with climate change”.

    And you framed the proposal in aesthetic terms which is EXACTLY the best way to do it. The aesthetics of those gulfstreams (or lack thereof) while so many struggle there is so remarkable.

    One temporary solution to Gulfstream workers: recycle those into something useful. Just leave 1 to show in a museum.

    Reply
  27. vegeholic

    “…how many other low-hanging fruits there may be?”. I think we can agree that our modern world is a target rich environment. I would advocate seriously prohibitive fuel taxes and let individuals decide how to navigate them. Resulting revenues could be used for all kinds of beneficial projects. Things which were unmentionable a few years ago (MfA, etc.) are now mainstream conversations. Be careful what you wish for.

    Reply
  28. Joe Well

    When Ariana Huffington ran for governor of California, she said that she was the Prius candidate and Schwartzenegger was the Humvee candidate because of their respective personal automobiles. It was quickly revealed that she also owned a Gulfstream jet.

    This is why the private jets have to be abolished. The hypocrisy of our “leaders” would otherwise make it impossible to stop families flying to Disney World.

    Reply
  29. oaf

    What percentage of anthropogenic CO2 emissions is from military fuel expenditures ???

    Thanks, Lambert; for this fearless post; and thank you all who contribute to this forum.

    Reply

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