Playing with Statistics (The Economist)

Naturally, the airlines choose to measure the greenhouse gases they produce in the way that casts them in the best light—a trick they deploy on safety statistics, too. For instance, over half of aircraft accidents occur around take-off and landing. So accidents per passenger-mile compare very favourably with other means of transport. But at least one study has shown that, if accidents are measured per journey instead, aircraft are the second-most dangerous way of travelling, after motorcycles.

Likewise on greenhouse gases. IATA says an aircraft's fuel consumption is about the same as that of a family car, at 3.5 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres. So CO2 emissions are similar. But that is true only if the aircraft is full and the car's passenger seats are empty. And even then, a jumbo jet flying from London to Sydney would be like nearly 400 Volkswagen Polos each travelling just over 16,000km—the average distance a European drives in a year. In other words, although cars and aircraft discharge roughly the same amount of CO2 for each passenger-kilometre, the aircraft travel an awful lot farther.

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2 Comments »

  1. billymouth said

    Billy Mouth has decided to review the footer at the bottom of your blog.

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