Concerns with the environment and global warming continue to gather force. These days, the debate is no longer over whether or not global warming is happening; the debate is over how quick and effective the response to global warming should be.
In this context, the rise of low-cost airlines in Europe has become quite controversial. The fact is that people are far more likely to fly when they don't have to pay a ton of money for their fares, and the sheer numbers of European air passengers has risen sharply over the last several years in line with the low-cost airline explosion. For the last half decade, the number of people flying within Europe has grown between 5 and 9 percent each year.
It's undeniable that this increase in the volume of air traffic is one contributor to the degradation of the environment, and news reports in Europe regarding the effects of low-cost airlines on the environment are a regular occurrence. We'd be remiss if we didn't at least acknowledge that low-cost flights are undeniably contributing to global warming.
Carbon Offsetting: One Option
For people who intend to continue to fly, but wish to diminish the negative effects of their flights, carbon offsetting has emerged as one solution.
Carbon offsetting involves calculating the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the environment by pollution-heavy activities (like flying on airplanes) and then purchasing a corresponding credit to be used on projects that counteract, or offset, the damage.
Carbon offsetting is not a perfect solution to the problem of global warming, but it does limit the damage done by budget-savvy air travelers. Airlines are getting into the spirit of things as well. EasyJet, for example, has incorporated a carbon emissions offsetting option into its booking page. And, the smaller Aer Arann (part of Aer Lingus) operates a few of the new ATR 72 jets, dubbed "the world's greenest aircraft" for fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emission.
The carbon offsetting industry is more or less unregulated. We like the US organization Clean Air Cool Planet's rankings of carbon offsetting organizations. Clean Air Cool Planet gives top marks to the following carbon offsetting companies, all of which will help you calculate your carbon "footprint" and offer you a way to offset it:
Calculate your carbon footprint, offset it, and explore!
Train travel is the least polluting mode of transportation around, beyond travel by foot or bicycle. Trains are slower and typically more expensive than low-cost air travel, but they are more environmentally-friendly.
Car travel works out to be more polluting than air travel when calculated on a per capita basis. Bus travel is another story, however, as buses carry more people than cars.
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