Some say it’s pointless for the United States to cut back on its carbon emissions. For whatever we do it won’t change what China and India are doing. And what are they doing? They’re building coal-fired power plants like there is no tomorrow. So it is kind of pointless what we do. For when it comes to global warming it won’t make a difference what one nation on the globe is doing. As the massive amounts of carbon emissions produced by China and India will enter the atmosphere surrounding the globe. Which will affect the United States. Even if we shrink our carbon footprint to nothing.
On Monday, 24 March 2014, Oslo Airport received a certificate showing that it is certified according to the internationally recognised ISO 14001 standard by DNV GL (Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd)…
Developed by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), ISO 14001 is an international standard for environmental management based on two concepts: continuous improvement and regulatory compliance…
OSL has been focused on protecting the external environment ever since the airport was on the drawing boards. OSL is working systematically to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and also uses new technology and innovation to improve its performance. These measures include converting stored winter snow into cooling energy in the summer, the recovery of energy from wastewater and a pilot project to study the use of hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles at the airport. OSL has been certified since 2010 at the highest level of Airport Carbon Accreditation, a voluntary scheme to systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions together with the players at the airport.
If there was any place that should get a pass on their carbon footprint it should be an airport. Because whatever they do will not offset the carbon emissions of the airplanes landing and taking off from that airport. And they emit a lot of carbon. So much that the Europeans wanted to extend their emissions trading scheme (ETS) to include airlines. Making them pay for the amount of carbon they emit when flying in EU airspace. Something the Chinese are very opposed to. As are other non-EU members. So much so that they delayed the inclusion of air travel into the ETS.
The biggest carbon emitters at any airport are the planes. Nothing even comes close. So why spend the money for a costly certification when it won’t make any difference? For the only way to make a real cut in carbon emissions at an airport is to get rid of the planes. Of course, if they did that then we wouldn’t need any ISO 14001 compliant airports, would we? But if we did this it wouldn’t stop China and India from building their coal-fired power plants. Proving how futile any efforts in combating manmade global warming are. It’s just money that could have been spent on feeding the hungry. Housing the homeless. Treating the sick. Or a myriad of other social spending that actually helps some people.
Ships once used Tugs to Maneuver around in Small Spaces but Today they use Tunnel Thrusters
As technology progressed the more things we needed to make other things. Small factories grew into large manufacturing plants. Which consumed vast quantities of material to produce vast quantities of goods. Requiring ever larger means of transportation. And we have built some behemoths of transportation.
Water transport has been the preferred method for heavy transport. Which is why most early cities were on rivers. As time passed our cities got bigger. Our industry got bigger. And our ships got bigger. Huge bulk freighters bring iron ore, coal, limestone, etc., from northern ports across the Great Lakes to docks on small rivers and harbors further south. On the open lakes these ships can put the pedal to the metal. Roaring across these lakes at breakneck speeds of 15 mph. If you’ve ever seen a Great Lakes freighter at full throttle you probably noticed something. They push a lot of water out of their way. Something they can’t do in those small rivers and harbors. As their wake would push the river over its banks. So they slow down to a non-wake speed of something slower than a person walking.
Lakes are huge bodies of deep water. But these Great Lakes freighters, or lakers, often enter narrow and shallow rivers. Some rivers even too shallow. So they dredge a channel in them. So these lakers don’t bottom out. Some lakers have to travel upriver to offload. Then turn around. Which isn’t easy in a shallow river when your ship is 700-1,000 feet long. They once used tugs to push these ships around. But today they use tunnel thrusters. An impeller inside a tunnel through the ship at the bow and stern perpendicular to the beam and below the water line. Which can turn a ship without the forward motion a rudder requires. Allowing it to move as if a tug is pushing it. Only without a tug.
Interesting thing about Trains is that they don’t have a Steering Wheel
With the introduction of the railroad cities moved away from rivers and coastlines. But the railroads only became a part of the heavy transport system. Cities grew up along the railroads. Where farmers in a region brought their harvests to grain elevators. Trains took their harvests from these elevators to ports on rivers and coastlines. Where they could offload to ships or barges. And it would take a large ship or a barge. Because one long train can carry a lot of harvest.
Interesting thing about trains is that they don’t have a steering wheel. For there is only two directions they can go. Forward. And backward. If you’ve traveled passenger rail to the end of the line you may have experienced a train turning around. The train will reduce speed to a crawl as they switch over to a perpendicular-running track. For trains do not travel well on curves. Because the wheels are connected to a solid axel. So in a turn the outer wheel needs to travel faster to keep up with the inner wheel. But can’t. Causing the wheels to slip instead. Causing wear and tear on the train wheels. And track. Which is why curved track does not last as long as straight track. The train travels a while on this perpendicular track at a crawl until the rear end passes another switch. It then stops. And goes backward. Switching back to the track it was originally on. Only now backing up instead of traveling forward. The train then backs into the passenger terminal. Ready to leave from this end of the line going forward. To the other end of the line.
Freight trains are a lot longer than passenger trains. Some can be a mile long. Or longer. And rarely turn around like a freight train. Rail cars are added to each other creating a consist in a rail yard. A switcher (small locomotive) moves back and forth picking up cars and attaching them to the consist. In the reverse order which they will be disconnected and left in rail yards along the way. Once they build the consist they bring in the go-power. Typically a lashup of 2-3 locomotives (or more if they’re the older DC models). The lead locomotive will typically face forward. Putting the engineer at the very front of the train. In the old days they had roundhouses to switch the direction of these locomotives. Today they turn them around when they need to like the passenger train turning around. Which is much easier as they only have to turn around one locomotive in the lashup.
Planes may Fly close to 500 mph in the Air but on the Ground they move about as Fast as Someone can Walk
Airplanes are big. In flight they’re as graceful as a bird in flight. But it’s a different story on the ground. Planes are big and heavy. They have a huge wingspan. And the pilots sit so far forward that they can’t see how close their wingtips are to other things. Such as other airplanes. When they leave a gate they usually have a tug push them back and get them facing forward. At which time they start their engines. As it would be dangerous to start them while at the gate where there are a lot of people and equipment servicing the plane. They don’t want to suck anything—a person or a piece of equipment—into the jet engines. And they don’t want to blow anything away moving behind the engines as the jet blast from a jet can blow a bus away. And has. In flight they use their ailerons to turn. The flaps on the tips of each wing that roll a plane left or right. Causing the plane to turn. The rudder is used for trimming a plane. Or, in the case of an engine failure, to correct for asymmetric thrust that wants to twist the airplane like a weathercock. On the ground they use a little steering wheel (i.e., a tiller) outboard of the pilot (to the left of the left seat and to the right of the right seat) to turn the nose gear wheel.
Pilots can’t see a lot out of the cockpit window while on the ground. Which is why they rely on ground crews to give them direction. And to walk alongside the wings during the pushback. To make sure the wings don’t hit anything. And that no one hits the plane. Once the tug disconnects and the plane is under its own power the flight crew takes directions from ground controllers. Whose job is to safely move planes around the airport while they’re on the ground. Planes may fly close to 500 mph in the air but on the ground they move about as fast as someone can walk. For planes are very heavy. If they get moving too fast they’re not going to be able to stop on a dime. Which would be a problem if they’re in a line of planes moving along a taxiway to the runway.
When we use big things to move people or freight they work great where they are operating in their element. A ship speeding across an open lake. A train barreling along straight track. Or a plane jetting across the open skies. But when we rein these big things in they are out of their element. Ships in narrow, shallow rivers. Trains on sharply curved track. And planes on the ground. Where more accidents happen than when they are in their element. Ships that run into bridges. Trains that derail. And planes that hit things with their wings. Because it’s not easy moving big things in small places.
Keynesian economists, and the current administration, strongly believe in the power of government stimulus spending. Keynesian theory is all about the importance of consumer spending. And everything about Keynesian stimulus should put more money into consumers’ pockets so they can spend money in the private sector economy. For even the Keynesian will acknowledge that consumer spending in the private sector economy is the only thing that matters for real economic growth. And anything that helps in this endeavor can and should be done. Even if it means having the government pay people to dig a ditch. Then fill it back in. And then dig it out again. And so on. Because those people the government pays to do something completely worthless will take their paychecks and spend them in the private sector. Thus stimulating the private sector economy.
Three years ago, we first visited the tiny airport, and found a monument to pork barrel spending: An airport with a $7 million air traffic control tower, $14 million hanger, and $18 million runway big enough to land any airplane in North America. For most of the day, the only thing this airport doesn’t have is airplanes.
We flew there on one of three flights that arrive there daily, all of them from Washington D.C. About half the cost of every ticket, $100, is paid by American taxpayers, a subsidy Congress voted to renew just this past February.
The place had a shiny new luggage carousel, a state of the art tower, and some very bored air traffic controllers — but very few passengers. The place is a tribute to the power of its namesake; everything from the reinforced runway to the radar facility to the new terminal, are all thanks to Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who died more than a year.
You see, that’s the problem of paying people to do something worthless. Building this airport cost a lot of taxpayer money. Those who built the airport did well. While they were building the airport. But now that the work is done that airport is one expensive filled in ditch. For it’s as useful as a filled in ditch. But even more costly. For a filled in ditch at least doesn’t need employees to stand around waiting for something to do. It doesn’t consume electricity and natural gas utilities. And it doesn’t have to be maintained. Unlike a runway. Even if it’s not being used.
The government went into debt paying for this. It’s part of the reason the debt ceiling has to be increased so often. Because of all the John Murtha pork barrel spending out there. Worse, the airport cannot generate enough revenue to support itself. And requires government subsidies to keep it open so people can stand around waiting for something to do. This and all other pork barrel spending adds up to be a terrible drag on the economy as it sucks money out of the private sector (where they don’t build airports where there are no airplanes to use them). Where the only spending that counts for real economic growth is reduced by the amount of the stimulus taxed out of it. And servicing the debt created by this stimulus spending further reduces economic activity in the private sector. As the interest on the debt grows to a larger and larger line item in the U.S. budget. Forcing the government to borrow money to pay the interest on the money they borrowed previously.
The worst thing about this is that those on the Left, the Keynesians, don’t see a problem in this. For they have no fundamental understanding of economics and believe their Keynesian follies actually help the economy. Despite having a failing track record for close to a century. They believe. They have faith. And don’t need to see results. For their faith is enough. Yet they won’t stand for the irresponsible ‘spending’ of a tax cut that actually stimulates economic activity in the private sector. That place where the only spending that counts for real economic growth takes place. And has a very successful track record of success. As Harding/Coolidge proved. As JFK proved. As Reagan proved. And as George W. Bush proved.
The Big Planes are Nimble in the Sky but Clumsy and Dangerous on the Ground
In airplane parlance, the Boeing 747 is a big-ass plane. And the Airbus A380 is an even bigger-ass plane. Too big some say. Like a lot of airport administrators. With a full-length upper deck, boarding requires a two-story passenger boarding bridge (PBB). Something no airport had prior to the A380. The 747 has a smaller upper deck and passengers get there by a set of stairs inside the plane. Which allows the 747 to fit any wide-body gate. Not the case with the A380.
The A380 also has something the 747 doesn’t. The world’s longest wingspan on a commercial passenger jet. The A380 is big. And heavy. It takes for big turbofan jet engines and lots of wing area to heft that incredible bulk into the air. This causes an even bigger problem than the 2-story PBB. Because it’s not easy to widen taxiways or runways. Or move buildings and other infrastructure out of the way. Which makes them a hazard when taxiing. Which is when a plane is most vulnerable. And dangerous. More accidents happen while taxiing than flying. Even the greatest aviation disaster of all time occurred on the ground. When a KLM 747 on its takeoff roll crashed into a taxiing Pan Am 747 at Tenerife. Killing 583 passengers.
An Airbus 380 lost its wingtip in a taxiing collision with a building, just two months after another superjumbo was grounded for striking a private jet in New York.
The A380 superjumbo was grounded after the smash at slow-speed at the Le Bourget airport, where the Paris Air Show is taking place.
The collision mirrored an incident at JFK airport earlier this year when a private jet was spun round after it was hit by the wing of an A380.
And someone caught that JFK accident and posted it to YouTube.
The big planes soar majestically through the skies. But they’re clumsy as an ox on the ground. And dangerous. But they’re also something else. Profitable. Because the more people you can put into a plane the lower your per-passenger costs are and the greater your profits can be.
Big Dollars and thin Margins
‘Can’ being the operative word. Because it takes a lot of money to make money in the airline business. Because airplanes are very expensive. And the business is ultra sensitive to oil prices and recessions (see Aircraft Makers Not Put Off by Excess Capacity by Daniel Solon posted 6/20/2011 on The New York Times).
The carriers are being squeezed between high oil prices — expected to average $110 per barrel this year, against $96 in 2010 — and an overly rapid expansion of capacity relative to demand. Global airline capacity this year is slated to rise by 5.8 percent, while demand is expected to expand by only 4.7 percent.
“But with a dismal 0.7 percent margin, there is little buffer left against further shocks,” I.A.T.A.’s director general, Giovanni Bisignani, said at the annual meeting, referring to the $4 billion profit on projected revenue of $598 billion.
Despite these paper-thin margins some still have confidence in the air transportation industry. And they’re making big bets. Some 33,500 in all.
Looking ahead over the next 20 years, Mr. [James] Albaugh [chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit] forecast global demand for 33,500 new commercial aircraft, worth nearly $4 trillion, of which $1.7 trillion worth would be in the 100- to 200-passenger 737/A320 size range.
That’s a lot of money. $4 trillion dollars. It’s bigger than the annual GDP of Germany, France and the UK. And every other country except the U.S., Japan and China. It’s more than the sum total of all economic activity in most countries. But for Boeing it’s just a sales projection. Incredible. How do they do it? How do they do business in a world with such large numbers and such large risks? Do they get special help from the government? No. They have a simpler business model. They try to deliver what their customers want better than their competitors do.
Airline mergers — like United with Continental, Delta with Northwest, Air France with KLM and British Airways with Iberia — mean that fewer decision makers will be controlling larger purchases as the combined fleets are renewed or expanded. This has major potential consequences for both the large manufacturers in cases where the existing fleets include both Boeing (Continental, British Airways) and Airbus (United, Northwest and Iberia) planes.
Near-term, this may offer Airbus an edge in orders for its A320 New Engine Option, or A320neo, which could cut average fuel consumption immediately while allowing airline managers more time to evaluate the eventual Boeing response. At mid-June, A320 new orders totaled 362, with Airbus’s sales and marketing chief John Leahy targeting 500 by the end of the air show.
On the sidelines of a recent meeting of the chief executives of Star Alliance airlines, Harry Hohmeister, chairman and director general of Swiss, said the flexibility of engine choice offered by Airbus, between Pratt & Whitney’s 1100B and CFM International’s Leap-X, made it easier for him to opt for the A320 neo.
It’s a very complex industry. Each part of it has its own concerns. But no one is managing the overall industry. The market is. Airlines want to buy planes that cut operating costs. So they can sell tickets at prices passengers can afford. Manufacturers want to sell planes. So they try to make planes that cut operating costs. Each does their own part. In response to market forces. This is Adam Smith‘s invisible hand. Everybody working independently to maximize their own interests. And this benefits everyone in the aggregate. Because planes with low operating costs are brought to market so airlines can buy them in turn allowing them to sell tickets that passengers can afford.
Surely, you ask, wouldn’t it be more efficient if one entity did all this coordinating? Wouldn’t it improve market efficiencies? Reduce redundancies? Make sure we use resources to maximize their value? To have someone tell the manufactures what to build. Someone to tell the airlines what to buy? So the passengers get the lowest possible price? Actually, it’s been tried.
The Soviet Economy Collapsed because of too much Government
And it doesn’t work. And never has worked. Nor will it ever work. Because one person or entity cannot be smarter than the millions of decision makers working to maximize their own interests. Because a business prospers when it sells. But to sell someone must buy. Hence a business does best when it best pleases a buyer. And that’s something a bureaucrat just can’t do. For if he or she could, the Soviet Union would still be here. And her GDP would be greater than the U.S., Japan, China, Germany, the U.K., France and every other nation on the planet.
Well, the Soviet Union is no more. Many probably don’t even remember the Cold War or the war between capitalism and communism. (For those of you who don’t, capitalism won.) Boris Yeltsin‘s right-hand man recounts the events of August 1991, the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union in Foreign Policy. Key to her collapse was the state-managed economy (see Meltdown by Gennady Burbulis and Michele A. Berdy posted 6/20/2011 on Foreign Policy).
For months we had half-expected something like this. By the summer of 1991, the Soviet Union was falling apart at the seams. The economy was imploding, the deficit was ballooning, hard currency and gold reserves had been decimated, and Gorbachev’s stopgap reforms had only exacerbated the crisis…
…Yeltsin and the other democratic candidates had been elected to the Russian parliament in 1990 with the goal of securing more legally protected rights and freedoms, as well as a market economy, and Yeltsin had been elected president of Russia in June 1991 with almost 60 percent of the vote. But while we were secure in our popular mandate, we were utterly powerless to deal with the greatest threat to Russia: economic collapse. More than 93 percent of the economy, by our estimation, was controlled by the Soviet government. Yeltsin and those of us in his circle of closest associates soon came to believe that unless we were to content ourselves with being nothing more than a ceremonial body, we had to change the legal and economic bases of the union itself.
The government controlled 93% of the economy. And it was falling apart at the seams. Because bureaucrats are bad businessmen. As demonstrated in the Soviet Union. However, bureaucrats are good at something. Being a bureaucrat. And maintaining power. The Soviet communists resisted the market reforms. In fact, that August, the old hard-line communists effected a coup d’état. To resist the Westernization of their country. To hold on to their power. At the expense of a suffering citizenry. But Boris Yeltsin prevailed. And the Soviet Union is no more.
Of course, it was not an easy road. The rule of law did not quite catch up to the market reforms. So there was a lot of corruption. And crony capitalism. Which is something that China saw. And they are being very careful with their market reforms to avoid a similar fate. But China, too, is rife with corruption and crony capitalism. But these two nations are shaking off their communist lethargy and are becoming serious competitors in the global economy. And China will soon be building commercial aircraft to compete against Boeing and Airbus.
Free Market Capitalism provides the Path to Success
Aircraft manufacturers are doing big and bold things. Because they can. By providing what the market wants. It can do this despite the huge dollars involved. And they don’t need any help from the government telling them what they need to build. Or buy.
Government is full of bureaucrats who don’t know the first thing about business. In fact, their involvement only hurts business. Case in point: the Soviet Union. But that doesn’t stop bureaucrats from sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong. Especially in the aviation industry. They see all that money. And they want a piece of it to bail out their budget deficits. The latest scheme by the Europeans is to tax carbon emissions in an Emissions Trading Scheme. Not only are they going to tax themselves, but they’re going to tax any airline flying into the EU for their carbon emissions. Some are concerned that this may result in a trade war. Probably because it will. But that’s government. They want the money first. Then they’ll consider the economic damage their policies cause.
One has to marvel when looking at a 747 or an A380. Incredible examples of what private enterprise can do. One can only imagine what other great things people could do if they didn’t have to spend so much time and money fighting their governments. And we can only scratch our heads when we see emerging economies move towards capitalism (to emulate the success of others) while established economies with bloated bureaucracies move away from capitalism (to emulate the failures of others).