Saturday, November 17, 2018

Airport Stories Continue Silence on Greenhouse Gases

There was a recent side conversation on twitter involving a reporter and a climate scientist about climate disruption.* Maybe there is a robust internal debate and conversation that we do not see at each media shop. They might be keeping it in house, and maybe it's not fair to comment on this. But it's really important. Reporters still overestimate the amount of coverage they give to climate disruption. It is mostly siloed in specialist topics, and not woven into the fabric of everyday coverage. There are features on climate disruption, but it does not yet constitute a basic ground for regular coverage. It is not foundational enough.

The Keeling Curve is the wrong kind of take-off!
The coverage of the proposals to expand airport service is a good example of this.

It continues to be framed up as an economic development story, but looks past what might be the single most important fact about it. It is assumed that passenger service is an unambiguous good, but the cost is in carbon and fossil fuel is elided.

But a fossil fuel business and fossil fuel prices are even at the center of it! That's such a gimme!
A coalition of business leaders pushing to bring commercial passenger flights back to Salem's McNary Field will apply for a $500,000 state airport grant next year, one of the biggest steps in returning the service to Salem as early as 2020.

Brent DeHart, a member of the Mid-Valley Commercial Air Service Steering Committee, said the group has focused on United Airlines and Alaska Airlines as "top candidates" to provide the commercial air service in Oregon's capital, though they have yet to approach the companies....

DeHart, owner of Salem Aviation Fueling, said the money would pay for two things: recruiting an airline consultant to carry the committee through a two-year process; and providing a marketing fund to promote commercial air service in the region if Salem gets it....

DeHart pointed to rising oil prices at the time as a big reason behind Delta's exit, with national and international economic factors undermining the service. Salem proved its viability as market for this a decade ago, he said, and now it's ten years stronger. [and we have cheap gas right now]
It could also be an indirect subsidy for the Conference Center:
In testimony, Scott Snyder, general manager of the Grand Hotel in downtown Salem, said commercial air service would boost room sales, consequently increasing in Transient Occupancy Tax collections and nearby retail sales.

"Salem hotels experience a vacuum on a weekly basis," Snyder said. The Grand Hotel sees 15 to 20 guest rooms check out on Thursdays because of Friday morning flights from Portland International Airport, and guests stay in Portland the night before, he said.
Altogether there's an uncritical perspective on the airport and on air travel that gets cycled from story to story. And one of the most important angles that needs to be centered is on climate and greenhouse gas.

* Here's the conversation:

We're not reading enough on climate disruption!

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