Can Climate Change Cost You Travel Time?

On February 10, 2016, Environmental Research Letters (ERL) published a study that looked at the effects of climate change on transatlantic travel. The study found that global warming stands to cause an increase in turbulence as well as a substantial increase in flight times.

These changes occur due to the impact global warming has on jet streams. For climate change deniers, the evidence is becoming increasingly irrefutable. For those not so bold as to actually deny global warming, but rather, simply turn a blind eye, that may no longer be an option. It is no longer just an "inconvenient truth" but a reality that will impact the way you travel. While it is unfortunate that images of polar bears sinking on glaciers and the ongoing (and often deadly) changes in weather patterns across the country over the last several years hasn't been enough to motivate change but an annoying vacation or business trip will likely get people stirring. Whatever the motivation, I am hopeful a change in behavior will ensue.

If there is any question about the severity of the situation, spend some time in Beijing. I was there during an air quality alert day when people were told to stay inside if possible, to wear masks if they had to be outside and not to drive their cars... and that was just a random Tuesday. Depending on where you live, Beijing may feel like it is a world away but it isn't... we are all sharing (and polluting) this planet. We breathe the same air.

I realize the climate change discussion is by no means new, but maybe the reality of how it could begin to impact your daily life will make people take extra initiative. It could be as simple as changing a non-recycler into a recycler or as big as converting your home's energy to solar power. However you reduce your carbon footprint, today is a great day to start. When your flight goes from a little over 5 hours to more than 7, even the biggest denier of global warming may become a believer (particularly when the cost of that flight undoubtedly increases to allow for additional flight times) but, by then, things may be beyond repair.