Air travel has become so common that it is now a masive problem for the environment. Greenhouse gases from all UK flights alone have doubled in 13 years to around 40m tonnes, a direct consequence of jet engines burning fuel to whisk us further than any generation has travelled before. Vast amounts of CO2 are dumped into the atmosphere, Nitrogen dioxides are released at just the right altitude to erode atmospheric ozone and particles from the engines attract droplets of moisture, seeding rain clouds that warm the Earth.
Here are some facts about flying that we all should know about.
* Air travel produces 18 times the greenhouse gas emissions of trains; and 195 times that of a ship.
* Aviation could contribute 15 per cent of greenhouse gases each year if unchecked (if growth rates remain the same past 2030).
* Greenhouse gas emissions caused by UK air travel have doubled in the past 13 years, from 20.1m tons in 1990 to 39.5m tons in 2004.
* During the same period emissions from UK cars rose by 8m tons, to 67.8m tons.
* One return flight to the West Coast of the USA produces the equivalent CO2 of a year's average motoring.
* Emissions at altitude have 2.7 times the environmental impact of those on the ground.
* Air travel is growing at UK airports at an average of 4.25 per cent. In 1970, 32 million flew from UK airports; in 2002, 189 million. By 2030 some 500 million passengers may pass through UK airports.
* Cargo transportation is growing by 7 per cent a year. In 1970, 580,000 tons of freight were moved by plane; in 2002, 2.2 million tons. It is forecast to reach 5 million tons in 2010.
* 50 per cent of the UK population flew at least once in 2001.
* Flying 1kg of Strawberries from California to the UK uses 900 times more energy than the home-grown equivalent.