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Transport - May 11

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Air traffic out of control

George Monbiot, Guardian
The latest figures on flights are a disaster for the environment. There is only one way to turn things around: a reduction in the capacity of airports.
The governments of the rich world are committed to two contradictory policies. One is to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases. The other is to increase the number of flights. The success of the first policy has been limited. The success of the second has been spectacular.

New figures from the aviation company OAG suggest that the number of scheduled flights has risen by 5% worldwide between May 2006 and May 2007. Bookings for this month are higher than they have ever been, and the peak holiday season has not yet begun. Nor has the new Open Skies agreement on transatlantic flights (which was negotiated and reported without reference to its impact on greenhouse gas emissions) yet come into effect. It is likely greatly to increase the volume of traffic.

...It is as if we inhabit two parallel worlds. In one - the world of the travel supplements, the Open Skies agreement, the British government's "master plans" for the expansion of our airports - we expect to travel ever further and more frequently, enjoying stag nights in Prague, wine tasting trips in Australia and shopping weekends in New York. In the other world we wring our hands and lament the imminent death of the biosphere.
(9 May 2007)

Flights reach record levels despite warnings over climate change

David Adam, The Guardian
· 2.51m take-offs scheduled worldwide this month
· UK most popular country for international flights

Less than a week after the world's scientists warned there may be just eight years to act on greenhouse gas pollution to avoid the worst of global warming, the aviation industry has announced record increases in the number of flights worldwide.

Booming demand for domestic flights in China has helped nudge the number of global take-offs scheduled for this month to more than 2.5m for the first time. A surge in the popularity of low-cost airlines means more than 114,000 more flights are expected than during the same period last year - a 5% rise.
(9 May 2007)

Frenetic lifestyle puts the boots to leisurely strolls

Vancouver Sun
If it seems sometimes that the pace of life has quickened, rest assured that it has -- by about 10 per cent over the last decade.

We can thank Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in England, for quantifying the unquantifiable. He did it by comparing the time it took pedestrians in cities around the world to walk 60 feet (18.3 metres) in a 1994 study with recorded times of city dwellers traversing the identical length of unobstructed pavement today.

The results show that on average we move at about 3.5 mph (5.6 km per hour), or 10 per cent faster than in the early 1990s, an increase Wiseman attributed to a frenetic lifestyle driven by technology and 24-hour availability.

"The psychology is basically that people's walking pace is determined by how much they think they're in a hurry; how quickly they think they should be doing things," he said. "What's amazing is that these days, you press send on an e-mail and, if someone hasn't responded in 10 minutes, you think: 'Where are they?' "

Not surprisingly, the pace in the so-called Asian Tigers has quickened the most, with pedestrians in Singapore walking 30 per cent faster than a decade ago, covering the distance in a mere 10.4 seconds; and in Guangzhou (China) 20 per cent faster, in 10.94 seconds.
(11 May 2007)

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