Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Air Cargo

The media spotlight has been on air cargo in the last few days, due to the interception of a terrorist bomb in transit from Yemen.

As you'd expect from the 'professional' media, there has rather impoverished analysis of the surrounding issues: which is why you need to come here.

Unlike passenger baggage, air freight isn't routinely scanned. However, upwards of 70% of freight is carried as 'belly freight' on passenger aircraft, according to a report for the Commission for Integrated Transport.In other words, there's a big security hole that could put passenger flights at risk.

While air freight is not the most significant contributor to total carbon emissions, transporting goods by air is an order of magnitude more intensive than other transport modes, using the DEFRA methodology. Yet the amount of air cargo is increasing.

The airline industry are understandably reluctant to do anything about increasing scrutiny of cargo, as it will put their costs up. However, it's about time the cost of air freight bore more relation to its relative carbon emissions.

The actions of terrorists are despicable and cannot be condoned. But in recent years, the number of people killed in terrorist activities in the West has not been very significant. In contrast a lot of people will die in the future as a result of the effects of climate change. It's a curious paradox that if the activities of terrorists act as a brake on the expansion of the airline industry, that could result in a net saving of lives.

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