Last week at work I wrote up a little diddy about how Lufthansa is going to be testing out biofuel on one of its domestic routes next year. If you’d like to read the article, it can be found here.
For those of you who aren’t going to bother reading the article, I’ll summarize. Lufthansa and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) are going to spend 6.6 million euros testing biofuel on a Lufthansa passenger plane. CO2 emissions will be reduced, the environment will be saved, air travel will inch toward becoming sustainable, and we’ll all live happily ever as we fly into the sunset on the rump of a Lufthansa Airbus. Indeed.
I didn’t really want to write about Lufthansa’s forays into biofuel that morning, but it was perfect fodder for another website that I write for, so I drank half a pot of coffee and wrote about it anyway. The more research I did, the more irritated I became.
The press release that was my main source that morning was chock full o’ assumptions, and, as is the case with a hell of a lot of press releases, just an advertisement dressed up to look like news. The press release assumed, for example, that air travel could ever be sustainable, that anything produced within the current industrial production system could ever be sustainable, and that air travel itself was a goal both worth spending millions of euros on and continuing in the (allegedly) more-sustainable future. When you try to dress an advertisement up as news, you end up with that little-kid-in-his-mommy’s-heels-an look. Our papers are catalogs of children dressed up in their parents’ over-sized business suits.
Sustainability as I understand it is based on a well-balanced give-and-take relationship (emphasis on relationship here). As far as I can tell, building airplanes (and airports) out of metals and chemically produced synthetics has a lot to do with taking and nothing to do with giving, no matter what you’re using to fuel said airplanes. Unless you count pollution as a gift. In which case, you’re going to have the best Christmas ever because pollution is the gift that just keeps on giving. Giving us cancer, giving us asthma, giving us allergies and birth defects and respiratory problems and global warming.
Green solutions, band-aids on the breach of a sinking ship. Though many seem to be enthusiastic about accompanying the captain and his ship down into the murky deep, I’d rather adapt to radical changes in our culture now and know that this ole rock will remain fit for human life for a long time to come then insist that we need sustainable commercial airlines in order to survive. And if we were to, say, pull the plug on commercial air travel completely, we wouldn’t need to spend 6.6 mil. testing biofuel either. Imagine that.