Sometimes I wonder if I live in a parallel universe. Today’s news that the Earth’s tipping points could happen much sooner than expected is a serious reminder about how close we are to a climate catastrophe.

Yet we are also now designing aircraft that can fly from Europe to Australia in under five hours – with people talking about day trips to Australia.

This is meant to be OK because the plane involved is a prototype which runs on hydrogen that only emits water vapour and nitrous oxides. The Guardian calls the plane “an eco-friendly passenger jet” – they should know better because passenger jets and eco-friendly is a complete contradiction in terms. Nitrous oxide has a damaging effect on the climate: one we don’t yet fully understand, and many studies have shown the damage is greater the higher you fly. Producing liquid hydrogen could also be extremely polluting.

Alan Bond, a senior engineer and managing director at the company developing the plane, said the A2 prototype could be operating within 25 years if there was demand for it. “The flight time from Brussels to Australia, allowing for air traffic control, would be four hours 40 minutes. It sounds incredible by today’s standards but I don’t see why future generations can’t make day trips to Australasia.”

Bond added: “The A2 is designed to leave Brussels international airport, fly quietly and subsonically out into the north Atlantic at mach 0.9 before reaching mach 5 across the North Pole and heading over the Pacific to Australia.”

Well it will be hard to see the North Pole, because there won’t be any ice on it. Maybe just a few floating dead bears.

One Comment

  • Yeah, what’s wrong with spending three months sailing from Europe to Australia in an environmentally-neutral sailing ship?

    That’s only 500 times slower than this aircraft.

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