Uncontacted tribe’s land invaded and destroyed for beef production


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distance.to says the shortest air travel distance between JFK and LAX is 2469.45 miles, and the shortest driving route is 2,826.47 miles.

EPA says the average passenger vehicle emits 404g of CO2 per mile, so the trip would be 1142kg CO2 by car.

This says the carbon intensity of flights averaged between 75 and 95g CO2/RPK, and their graph shows more specifically for 3501-4000km flights, it's above the minimum, but below 80. We'll use 78 as an approximate figure in this range. That would give a result of 310kg CO2 per passenger for that flight.

This substantially varies by car. A 2019 Prius emits 158g/mile. That makes it 447kg by car.

Other things to consider: You picked a route that is particularly efficient for air transport. A flight that was half that long would be almost twice the emissions per unit distance. This is untrue of cars, which are going to be...roughly as efficient as they are for 10 miles as they are for 1000*. Making the same trip by with multiple legs would be substantially worse for emissions. Shorter flights are less efficient per unit distance, but you'd also need to fly a longer distance because it was less direct. Doubly whammy.

The more people you have in the car, the better cars do. We did the numbers for 1 person flying, 1 person driving. If you have 2 people flying, 2 people driving (in the same car), all of a sudden that's still 1142kg CO2 by car, but 620kg CO2 by air. The Prius would win that comparison.

Realistically, I'm not sure there's enough in the difference to make that decision by emissions alone. Cost, time, convenience are going to matter a lot here, and also play into your overall carbon emissions for the trip. I think the thing to take away from people saying "fly less", isn't "drive instead", it's "try to avoid making extremely long trips" (unless you have an extremely efficient rail system, I suppose) The point of a lot of this stuff isn't to be as efficient as possible, it's to emit as little as possible. Efficiency is one way to do that, but it's not the best way.

*I suppose to get an even more exact answer, you'd probably want to use the highway efficiency, not the combined efficiency for your calculation, which would make cars slightly worse.

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