January 12, 2016

"Future planes may be powered by batteries or hybrid gas-electric systems.... and have lighter wings that can quickly change shape to better handle the stresses brought on by turbulent air."

"Others may eliminate the conventional wings-and-fuselage design in favor of one that blends the two elements, all to further the cause of lower emissions.... To achieve the drastic emissions reductions that may be required by the middle of the century and beyond — to make aviation as carbon-free as possible — new 'clean sheet' aircraft designs may be needed, incorporating new technologies and approaches.... 'The idea is to ultimately replace the entire trailing edge of an aircraft wing with technology like this, so you could continuously change the shape of the wing to reduce drag and increase lift,' said Ethan Baumann, chief engineer for the test jet. The technology could also allow the drag and lift forces to be shifted around the wings to avoid overloading, so the wings could be lighter than conventional ones. The idea behind distributed propulsion is to take the engines from their usual position hanging below the wings and put them elsewhere. Becausee [sic] jet engines are complex, heavy devices, distributed propulsion designs almost always involve simpler and smaller electric motors.... Given the current limitations of batteries, the modified aircraft will only be able to make short flights. Battery technology may never improve enough to make all-electric planes practical..."

From "Rethinking the Airplane, for Climate’s Sake."

Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes.

85 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Given the current limitations of batteries, the modified aircraft will only be able to make short flights.

This is the kind of place where a "high tolerance for ambiguity" comes in handy for a liberal.

David Begley said...

Elon Musk is planning to build a magic, frictionless transportation tube.

Probably working on a tax credit right now.

David Begley said...

45 minutes from NY to LA.

http://www.wired.com/2013/07/elon-musk-hyperloop/

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Here's a radical rethink: Fly less.

You need to check your privilege. Not all of us are pampered public employees with amounts of free time to drive where we need to go.

Bob Ellison said...

Where does the electric energy come from to begin with?

Curious George said...

"Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes."

Global warming can only be reversed through climate conferences in exotic places. Or so it seems.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

There are so many decisions being made by public utilities, primarily, and other sectors, based on ridiculous climate change projections and the subsequent requirements. Utilities have to project out for 10-20-30 years, or more, in order to be ready as the emissions limits tighten. Trillions that could be better spent on practical innovation, are being wasted on design and planning brought about by bogeyman projections and the political/government/academic funding and contribution loop.

tim in vermont said...

There are so many decisions being made by public utilities, primarily, and other sectors, based on ridiculous climate change projections

You mean like when they replaced the Mackinaw ice breaker with a lighter duty version that wasn't up to the two recent harsh winters in the Great Lakes? Decisions like that?

Henry said...

To really save the planet, we need a plane that floats and has sails instead of wings.

traditionalguy said...

More Disney World sci-fi being told in a serious sounding language by actors in white lab coats only to further the Great Myth of Climate Control that by Controlling ALL Energy usage is a possible to control Weather. It's is a silly joke.

It is also a complete delusion being systematically inserted into the public realm to justify Dreams of Obama's crime syndicate taking over UN World governance.

David Begley said...

Mid-Life Lawyer.

Predictions. Key word. Predictions that have been wrong for 20 years.

Why would any rational person think the predictors are correct now?

Global warming is the biggest scam and hoax in the history of the world.

Triangle Man said...

With a hyper-loop from NY to Los Angeles, instead of looking down on the flyover states (or ignoring them), the coastals will be able to express their disdain for middle America more directly by running their trains through the tunnels of the heartland.

rehajm said...

...and future monkeys might fly out of my future butt.

rhhardin said...

Breed large birds.

rehajm said...

also, batteries are really heavy.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The public utilities decisions are not being made based on 'climate change', at least around here.

They're being made based on, "The EPA says we have to get x% of our power from alternative sources, and even though this is a TERRIBLE area for solar and the solar power is more expensive and has a higher environmental impact than coal (because of manufacturing the panels and then using them in an area without enough sun!), we're doing it so we don't get fined, because the cost of solar is lower than the fine."

Anyway, don't blame the utilities. They're engineers. They can do math. They know it's bunk. They're just stuck with the same lousy political class we are.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Furthermore, the projections/predictions of warmer temperatures generally assume warmer temps are a bad thing. It's usually presented in the premise that a 1 or 2 degree increase in temperatures is catastrophic but it's pretty clear, common sensically and otherwise, that a little more warmth is actually good, especially for crop yields. Also, which uses more energy, warming or cooling inside environments?

My predicition is that when there really does become some type of energy crisis, nuclear saves the day. They have that industry crippled right now but when the deal goes down (if it ever does) nuclear will solve the problem.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Or, go somewhere and don't come back.

Curious George said...

"Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes."

Actually, it would require flying half as many miles.

Big Mike said...

You'd think American businesses would be able to do more with Skype and videoconferencing and chat sessions and not need to have people fly from city to city for meetings. You'd be wrong. I don't know why it is, but it's much more possible to pick up on deliberate deception when you're face to face with people, even when you're on their turf, meeting in their conference room. Also there can be a great deal of team building done over dinner and outside of the meetings that is very necessary to a multi-company or single corporation but multi-location project. So people will continue to fly on business, like it or not.

As for vacations, if one only has a week or two to spend, why use up precious days getting there and back? In the winter one can be getting on board an airplane in freezing temperatures and four hours later be wearing a swim suit and sipping a Yellowbird around a hotel pool in the Bahamas. Why would someone give that up train and boat out to the islands?

Larry J said...

David Begley said...
Mid-Life Lawyer.

Predictions. Key word. Predictions that have been wrong for 20 years.

Why would any rational person think the predictors are correct now?


I'm old enough to remember hearing people say back in the 1960s, "It's from a computer so it must be right!" Some people have blind faith (bordering on religion) in these climate computer models, none of which have been validated. None of the models has predicted what the real world has done for the past 20 years. Here's a hint: If you computer model disagrees with the real world, it isn't the real world that's wrong.

Global warming is the biggest scam and hoax in the history of the world.

Indeed. Power is being consolidated. Cronies and politicians are being enriched. Those who play along with the scam are getting rewarded with lucrative grants. And we get to pay for it!

GRW3 said...

At a conference in Brazil on civil aviation in South and Central America, which I attended, the Brazilian government official in charge of aviation defined access to reliable civil aviation transport as a "Civil Right". Brazil has many places in the Northwest, that are barely accessible by ground transportation, which are developing growing economies dependent on aviation. This was a common theme amongst the government representatives at the meeting. Growth in aviation is driven by the explosion of access into such places.

The modern turbine airliner is very efficient. A airliner with a full load (aren't they always these days) is competitive with automobile transportation over long distance, fuel wise. Time wise and expense wise the airliner is the clear winner. They are getting more efficient with each new design. Electric ducted fans powered by electricity from a turbine engine could be an approach (and is being worked by Boeing) but getting more work our of fuel by converting it to electricity and powering those fans, instead of thrust directly is going to be tough.

The propulsion system is also incredibly durable. The general expectation for in service (running, producing power) time on the wing is about 30,000 hours between major overhauls. Anything less would be an economic problem for the airlines. Some new designs are guaranteeing more than 40,000 hours of service. Proving equivalent reliability is going to be hard.

If there is to be some impact of electric power into aviation it will be an off shoot of the little drones. At the recent CES they showed off a man carrying quad copter. Battery powered, it's only good for 22 minutes. Put in a generator and it could be better.

Terry said...

In the future, Elon Musk will simply pick you up and throw you to your travel destination.

Crimso said...

You know, when Braxton Bragg took his army from Chattanooga to Louisville...THEY WALKED! And nobody bitched about it (I might have made up that last part).

Ever made that walk?

What spoiled children we've become. And don't get me started on calculators...er, phones.

Crimso said...

"In the future, Elon Musk will simply pick you up and throw you to your travel destination."

Hardly. He'll fold space. Without spice.

Curious George said...

Elon Musk's cars burst into flames. His rocket's explode after liftoff. But I'm sure his airplanes whose wings change shape to better handle the stresses brought on by turbulent air will be just fine.

tim in vermont said...

Is there some kind of propellerless aircraft engine that can run on electricity that I haven't heard of? Maybe an ion drive or something? Otherwise I see slow, low altitude flying and a return to propellers in this future.

jimbino said...

Here's a radical rethink: Cut the breeding in half. With half as many people flying, the environmentalist and the taxpayer would rejoice.

Ann Althouse said...

"You need to check your privilege. Not all of us are pampered public employees with amounts of free time to drive where we need to go."

I just said "fly less." You said "need to go." Do you really only go where you "need to go"? Rethink "need."

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The liberal elites are stressed, not only by the fly-over class, but by the baggage class generally. Their solution is planning rites, diluted prosperity, rationed energy, and anti-native policies.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
"You need to check your privilege. Not all of us are pampered public employees with amounts of free time to drive where we need to go."

I just said "fly less." You said "need to go." Do you really only go where you "need to go"? Rethink "need."

You are both wrong. It's "travel less." Substituting driving for flying isn't going to cut your personal share of emissions. Not that it matters.

Chris N said...

Me and Starchild don't fly at all. No one in sector 7 does anymore...

Jupiter said...

NASA is welfare for engineers.

Unknown said...

NOAA has a website that says airplane emissions could explain all global warming in the 2oth century. Global temps fell nearly 2 degrees if I remember correctly following global grounding of all air travel following 9/11.

Low pollution solution: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-next-generation-of-goodyear-blimps/

But not fast. Or cheap (which should appeal to Dems).

Peter said...

"Becausee [sic] jet engines are complex, heavy devices,..."

Jet engines are actually quite lightweight relative to the enormous amount of power (thrust) they produce.

And although they're complex, they're relatively simple compared to the giant multi-bank radial aircraft piston engines they replaced.

The primary advantage of hybrid cars is their ability to recover kinetic energy by using regenerative braking instead of just throwing it away as heat. An airliner, however, already recovers much of the energy it used to attain cruising altitude and speed as it descends. The secondary advantage of a hybrid car is the ability to use a smaller primary engine yet still provide high peak power (by using the electric motor to assist the primary engine) on demand. However, the ratio of maximum power to cruise power is much higher in a car than in an airplane.

Jetliners are highly optimized for high-altitude cruise; for shorter flights (up to ~1,500 miles) a turboprop will be almost as fast and more fuel efficient. The large, long-distance jetliner has been refined and optimized for decades now; overall it's a remarkably efficient (as well as reliable) machine.


Electric aircraft, if they're ever produced commercially, might replace some light 2-seater aircraft now used for training pilots as they'd have lower operating costs than those now used for this, and an endurance of an hour or so would be sufficient for this application. But adding an engine to recharge the batteries in flight creates a much larger penalty in an airplane than in a car, as aircraft design is far more sensitive to weight.

Adding weight to an aircraft sets up a vicious circle, as more weight requires more lift to offset the weight, but increasing lift increases drag and thus requires more power from the engines to overcome that drag, but, these larger engines also weigh more and require more (heavy) fuel, which further increases weight, and that added weight then needs a heavier airframe to support it (which requires still more lift, etc.). It's not hard to understand why aircraft designers get fanatic about minimizing weight. Which is why a battery-powered aircraft with an endurance of an hour or so seems far more feasible than one with an on-board engine to recharge that battery.

As for airliners, well, there's still some room for efficiency improvements at the margins (for example, reducing the fuel used for taxiing, which is not insignificant). But coming up with something radically more efficient would be an enormous challenge (assuming it's even possible without some not-yet-invented technology).

David Begley said...

Question. Will Elon Musk keep investing if he loses his tax subsidizes?
Musk harvests the tax code.

cubanbob said...

When it comes to aircraft that I fly on, I'm very conservative. I like wings that don't change shape lest a mishap happens and the aircraft ceases to fly.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I just said "fly less." You said "need to go." Do you really only go where you "need to go"? Rethink "need."

My comment was tongue in cheek but I do fly where I need to fly. I visit my elderly father in Florida four times a year. Driving isn't an option because I don't have enough vacation time to spend multiple days sitting in a car.

Beach Brutus said...

Professor @ 8:57: "I just said 'fly less.' You said 'need to go.' Do you really only go where you 'need to go'? Rethink 'need.' "

Herein lies the essential conflict for most socio-political disputes. Someone limits my liberty by telling me I can only do something if I "need" to do it, then arrogating to themselves the power to define the boundaries of my necessity.

CWJ said...

First things first. Where are the flying cars? We were promised flying cars.

Jason said...

I just said "fly less." You said "need to go." Do you really only go where you "need to go"? Rethink "need."

Hmm.

The last cross-country flight I took was when my mom broke her femur in a fall and needed someone to live with her for a while. The time before that was to see my grandmother in the last days of her battle with cancer. A couple of years prior that it was when my mom had a sudden hip fracture and again needed someone there with her. Those were my last three airplane trips to any destination, for any reason.

Which is to say...

Who the devil do you think you are to tell any of us to "rethink" anything?

Bushman had you pegged.




Beach Brutus said...

GRW @8:21: Query - the article says jet engines are heavy. Are they really that heavy? I thought they are bulky, but compared to other power sources i thought they have a substantially lower weight to volume ratio.

Original Mike said...

"Global temps fell nearly 2 degrees if I remember correctly following global grounding of all air travel following 9/11."

Actually, the claim is temperature increased.

Original Mike said...

"Here's a radical rethink: Fly less."

Forget climate change. I'm just glad there are people with the intellectual curiosity to explore better ways of doing things.

jr565 said...

"
Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes."
We should have plane control. If you want a private plane because you are richer than god, you have to go through a background check. Part of that check will include looking into your view on climate change. If you believe in it, you can't buy the plane.
Or you have to buy a plane powered by solar energy and/or windmills.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I just said "fly less." You said "need to go." Do you really only go where you "need to go"? Rethink "need."

Aw come on and quit needling us. We all use resources we don't have to use, but rather want to. Ain't the modern world great?! I for one think it's delightful.

I don't feel a bit of guilt about flying where I want, when I want, but if some folks do, maybe these soooper cool planes can help them feel better about taking advantage of the delights of the twenty first century.

Alexander said...

Liberals are always gushing about how stupid Americans are only speaking English, and how we all need to spent a year overseas learning a foreign language so we can be more like people who live in places that aren't America.

I don't see how flying every 18 year old there-and-back is going to benefit the environment. Have liberals dropped this status-signal while I wasn't looking?

Anyway - bollocks to climate change. Glaciers still exist, snow still falls, the Maldives aren't all refugees (though everyone else from that part of the world apparently is, go figure). I don't in the most absolute sense 'need' to fly for most of my trips, but given that my annual airfare still clocks in well below that of an international climate change conference, or Al Gore's heating bill... I'm not in the least bit worried about it.

I always used to say that the biggest tell of a liberal misanthrope was an uncontrollable desire to prevent the peasants eating steak. This is still the case, but keeping the peasants in the mud and out of the air is rapidly becoming a close contender.

jr565 said...

I have misplace my pants wrote:
Aw come on and quit needling us. We all use resources we don't have to use, but rather want to. Ain't the modern world great?! I for one think it's delightful.

I don't feel a bit of guilt about flying where I want, when I want, but if some folks do, maybe these soooper cool planes can help them feel better about taking advantage of the delights of the twenty first century.

But surely the people who preach about climate change should have to live by their rules, right?
They are trying to impose caps on usage of energy, trying to make it more expensive, saying we need to have energy levels equivalent to times prior to electricity and saying if we don't do this, calamity will ensue.
Surely THOSE people should not be flying on planes (or making comments on social media)

jr565 said...

alexander wrote:
I always used to say that the biggest tell of a liberal misanthrope was an uncontrollable desire to prevent the peasants eating steak. This is still the case, but keeping the peasants in the mud and out of the air is rapidly becoming a close contender.

You describe Ricky Gervais perfectly. Not only a misanthrope, but not even a true vegetarian. Yet he would insult hunters who provide actual food to people.

jaydub said...

I thought this was solved last month in Paris by transferring $100B per year or so to the 3rd world. Regardless, I don't want to hear about this crapola ever again as I was told that if we only did the Paris thing everything would be fine, but if we didn't the world would end. Well, Paris happened and they were right - the world didn't end. Besides, I think half the air miles flown by US citizens will be cut just by the Obamas leaving the White House. Paris plus '16 election fixes everything. Be happy, don't worry.

Curious George said...

"Original Mike said...
Forget climate change. I'm just glad there are people with the intellectual curiosity to explore better ways of doing things."

That's so cute. But they don't get the big federal welfare checks.

jr565 said...

"http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/science/rethinking-the-airplane-for-climates-sake.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0

Rethinking the airplane for climates sake. The NYT should rethink the website and their newspaper for climates sake. Have you seen a Sundays NYT for example? Is that much paper necessary? And why must their be a website? Do you realize the amount of energy required to power websites? Stop streaming video on those sites. stop with twitter feeds and blog posts. We need to rethink the internet, people. THe climate is counting on us.

And by the way, lets talk about blogs for a second...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

But surely the people who preach about climate change should have to live by their rules, right?
They are trying to impose caps on usage of energy, trying to make it more expensive, saying we need to have energy levels equivalent to times prior to electricity and saying if we don't do this, calamity will ensue.
Surely THOSE people should not be flying on planes (or making comments on social media)


Of course such people are absurd hypocrites. Sometimes the thing to do is push hard against their policy initiatives; sometimes the thing to do is ignore and/or dismiss them with amusement because they are so darn silly.

Alexander said...

How much energy is wasted simply trying to live somewhat comfortably in a place like Wisconsin? Very bad. Much climate change. There's nothing inherent about Wisconsin that says you need to live there.

Transfer the top 20% of day-to-day energy users to places that are more naturally livable. It can be The University of Wisconsin at Biloxi, or the University of Wisconsin at Amarillo.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

"We are living in the future, I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper, 15 years ago
We're all flying rocket ships and talking with our minds,
And wearing turquoise jewelry, and standing in soup lines." John Prine (Living in the Future, Storm Windows Album, 1980)

The turquoise jewelry line always resonated with me. It seems like there were drawings with flying cars and people wearing turquoise jewelry in the sixties when I was in elementary school. When I graduated high school, I had a turquoise setting put in my class. I have no idea what I was thinking exactly other than that it was cool. I mean, I don't know why I thought it was cool. Probably something to do with indians.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

(class ring)

cubanbob said...

"Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes."

You can really do your part in cutting emissions not by substituting driving for flying but by substituting bicycling for driving. Let's go full Mao and have everyone ride bicycles ( other than the Vanguard of The Proletariat, they are entitled to privilege thanks to their heroic efforts). Plus think of the health benefits!And let's bring back sailing ships,think of the emissions saved and there is no need for so much speed in cargo transportation.

Birkel said...

If all conferences were held in a Midwestern state, say, Nebraska, people from across the country would be able to fly fewer miles and still attend the conferences. But for some reason the conferences are almost all held in coastal cities which will be flooded sometime in the next 100 years because of melting polar ice caps.

I guess we should enjoy these soon-to-be-disappeared cities before they "pull an Atlantis" and disappear forever.

/sarc

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...


There's nothing inherent about Wisconsin that says you need to live there.

Which is how one knows our hostess is funnin' with us. Obviously she makes lifestyle choices that reflect energy wants and not needs, and I assume thinks the rest of us should be allowed to as well. Because she's a clear thinker and not a religious dogmatic, like most devotees of the doom cult of climate change.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Also, think of the savings if everyone took fewer trips to Colorado.

jr565 said...

I have Misplaced my pants wrote:
Of course such people are absurd hypocrites. Sometimes the thing to do is push hard against their policy initiatives; sometimes the thing to do is ignore and/or dismiss them with amusement because they are so darn silly.

if you dont' push back though you'll get govt actually attempting to curtail your life. Because these people are trying to create policy.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If everybody weighed half as much, we could still fly the same amount of miles without feeling guilty.

John said...

Uhhhh... and where does the electricity come from to charge the batteries?

Unless the power comes from nuclear reactors or hydroelectric, electric planes will still be more polluting than existing jets. And much slower meaning many more will be required.

This is true even if the power comes from Solar or wind which are themselves very energy inefficient, polluting and have all sorts of energy balance issues of their own.

Modern jets convert about 60-80% of the energy input to energy output or thrust.

A typical steam power plant converts about 40% tops, many closer to 30%, of the energy output to electricity. Doesn't matter if the input is coal, oil, gas, solar, nuclear or unicorn farts. It's science. Or at least physics. See Carnot cycle for why.

Then, the juice has to be transmitted with perhaps another 10% loss in transmission.

Then stored in a battery with other losses. Someone else might know better but perhaps 10-20% loss? Not counting the energy and environmental costs of building the battery.

Then consumed in an electric motor with still further losses.

All this for an airplane with limited payload, range and speed.

Yeah, coal powered airplanes sound like a really great idea.

John Henry

Brando said...

If we allowed men to wear shorts in the summer, we wouldn't have to cool offices as much.

John said...

Ann, who are you to tell me not to travel? or that I don't "need" to travel as much as I do?

I get it that you don't like flying. I get it that you don't like us lower orders cluttering up museums and national parks and such. I get it that we lower orders should settle for pictures and videos and leave actual eyeballs-on to folks who know how to really appreciate stuff like this.

But it is not up to you, or shouldn't be anyway, to tell me what I need or should want.

I like traveling. Don't care much for being on airplanes so the faster the plane the better. I've traveled on prop planes where it took 12 hours to go from PR to Niagara falls in the back of a c-141. So sucks to any prop plane or any slower plane than a 707.

I like driving when I have time and sometimes even when I don't. My wife and I are planning to spend a week or 10 days driving from Chicago to Seattle in May. Other than that, I want to get where I am am going so I can enjoy the destination, not sitting on a plane.

I also do not give even half a shit about my CO2 footprint. It, along with the whole climate change scam, is just so much bullshit and I will not change one iota of my life or desires on its account.

John Henry

John said...

For what it is worth, I am a huge believer in energy conservation and more efficient usage of energy. I spent a big part of my early professional life working with energy. Nuclear and oil fired steam plants in the Navy in the 60's, OTEC and tidal while majoring in oceanography, Sold solar water heaters in the 70s. Developed an industrial cogeneration facility in the early 80s. Was about to start a business selling packaged cogeneration systems (www.tecogen.com)in '84 when a better opportunity came along.

I am absolutely a believer in being energy efficient. 1) For economic reasons. I do not like wasting money. 2) For political reasons. Most of the folks we used to buy oil from, Mid-East, Mexico, Africa and so on are not particularly great people and use the money to stir up trouble.

Energy efficiency helps the environment as well.

John Henry

Rusty said...

The modern turbine airliner is very efficient. A airliner with a full load (aren't they always these days) is competitive with automobile transportation over long distance, fuel wise. Time wise and expense wise the airliner is the clear winner. They are getting more efficient with each new design. Electric ducted fans powered by electricity from a turbine engine could be an approach (and is being worked by Boeing) but getting more work our of fuel by converting it to electricity and powering those fans, instead of thrust directly is going to be tough.

Everything you get, you pay for. Especially in aircraft design. everything is a trade off. gravity vs lift. Thrust vs drag. Pick any three. The magical thinking of the left is that these things can be achieved without making sacrifices.
Physics is remorseless.

Original Mike said...

Gravity. There's your problem right there.

Mac McConnell said...

This guy most likely went to the same university as the guy that promised me flying cars when I was a kid and predicted peak oil every decade.

Joe said...

Future planes may be powered by pixie dust.

With "may", you can say anything.

If it was easy, the airline industry would have already done it.

Larry J said...

cubanbob said...
When it comes to aircraft that I fly on, I'm very conservative. I like wings that don't change shape lest a mishap happens and the aircraft ceases to fly.


I take it you don't fly in planes more complicated than a Piper J-3 Cub. If you fly on even a Cessna 150, you have wing flaps to change the shape of the wing, increasing lift and drag. Sit in an over wing window seat sometime and watch how leading edge high lift devices and wing flaps deploy during takeoffs and landings. When retracted, an airliner's wings are optimized for cruising flight. Without those high-lift devices, takeoff and landing speeds would be way too high and runways would have to be miles longer.

Beach Brutus said...
Professor @ 8:57: "I just said 'fly less.' You said 'need to go.' Do you really only go where you 'need to go'? Rethink 'need.' "

Herein lies the essential conflict for most socio-political disputes. Someone limits my liberty by telling me I can only do something if I "need" to do it, then arrogating to themselves the power to define the boundaries of my necessity.


Yes, there are always cryptofascists who try to define what other people "need" based on their personal and political beliefs. Urban planners are a prime example of the breed, as are the eco nuts.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

About that "radical re-think" of flying less: Have Americans ever done anything like this in the past? Have Americans ever done less of something out of consideration of the planet or limited resources? I would guess they haven't. And that's not a bad thing. Our inclination is to carry on, don't even think of cutting back and let some egghead genius solve the problems created by doing so. As it should be. (That's how innovation occurs. Conversely, cutting back, austerity, doing without causes other kinds of innovations... but I'm stumped as to when this has happened.)

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, who are you to tell me not to travel? or that I don't "need" to travel as much as I do?"

Who are you to characterize me as having said that? A bad reader.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

Excluding wartime, of course.

Michael said...

"Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes."

Er, not if the half left is made up of large long range jets. Not sure the math works even if you go by seats given the cost of lifting larger aircraft.

Math!!

Jeffrey said...

Ann, you wrote:

Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes.

The verb fly is in the imperative form, which has an implied "you" as the subject. Naturally, many readers correctly parse your sentence as an injunction for them to fly less, so they are not "bad readers" at all. If you think the commenters are misinterpreting your two-sentence comment, then you need to re-write your sentences.

A word of advice: try not to be such a schoolmarmish asshole in the future. Many of your readers are far more intelligent than you are, so watch the condescension.

"Rethink" used as a noun? In linguistics, it's called zero-derivation, deriving a new form by simply switching its grammatical category without adding suffixes (here, verb to noun). Very common, as common as backformation. But is "re-think" count or non-count? How many re-thinks are we allowed on this comments page?

SJ said...

I've got to agree with the people who posted above about weight of airplanes.

Why do airplanes use jet fuel?

Because it has a very high amount of energy available per pound of fuel. And engines using the fuel can put out huge amounts of thrust per pound of engine.

What is the energy stored per pound of batter?

What is the thrust per pound of electric motor?

(As an aside: the big problem with flying cars is that it is hard to make them heavy enough to be road-safe, and still light enough to fly.)

Unknown said...

You first. I'm sticking with jet engines.

Patrick Henry said...

Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes.

No, here's the radical rethink: human caused climate change is a myth. CO2 is essential for plant growth.

Here's an even more radical rethink: a warmer planet is better for humans. If flying causes warming we should be looking for ways to fly more with "polluting" planes.

Kirk Parker said...

Mid-Life (@ 7:17am),

Yeah it's a major part of the Suicide of the West. And like many suicides, completely incomprehensible to the onlookers.


John Henry,

"I've traveled on prop planes where it took 12 hours to go from PR to Niagara falls in the back of a c-141."

Something went really wrong with this sentence, but only you know how to fix it.


Larry J,

True enough about flaps, but at least you can see that they're meant to slide out and in. But for heaven's sake please don't say anything about how wings flex in flight!

Rusty said...


True enough about flaps, but at least you can see that they're meant to slide out and in. But for heaven's sake please don't say anything about how wings flex in flight!


You'd be in trouble if they didn't flex.

Larry J said...

Kirk Parker said...

True enough about flaps, but at least you can see that they're meant to slide out and in. But for heaven's sake please don't say anything about how wings flex in flight!


What they're trying to do with morphing wings is to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce drag. It's a long held dream to improve performance. As for the wings flexing, they're designed to do that. If they didn't flex, they'd be more likely to break (very bad!). I suspect you'd feel the effects of turbulence more, too.

Hey Skipper said...

Here's a radical rethink: Fly less. We can cut emissions in half by flying half as many planes.

Okay, let's say we do that.

What then about, say, Hawaii, Caribbean islands, Tahiti, Alaska or any other place that depends to a substantial degree on tourism?

Kirk Parker said...

Rusty, Larry:

I said that for Cubanbob's benefit. (And for double-heaven's sake, don't ever let him fly on a B-52!)