As a society we can't seem to, or don't seem to want to wean ourselves from flying around the world. At one point in the early part of the century there was a lot of talk about swearing off long, CO2 intensive flights, trying staycations, as a way to reduce leisure footprints. Yet commercial travel continues to increase.
Along with that pleasure-seeking, we're creating a massive amount of travel CO2. And the prognosis for higher flight costs - from rising fuel costs and increased climate-change related turbulence - don't seem to dissuade most of us.
So the alternative is cutting fuel use. Air Samoa chose one route to reducing planes' weight by implementing a policy of charging by passengers' poundage. The other route is for airline manufacturers to create lighter planes using the carbon composite materials that have been perfected over the last decades.
One of those is TeXtreme, created by a scientist in Sweden who chose to weave together carbon tape rather than create a carbon yarn to create carbon fabric and what are called "spread tow reinforcements" useful for weight reduction in all types of objects - from Formula 1 race cars to America's Cup yachts.
Thus far TeXtreme has lightened up surfboards, bicycles, and golf clubs, but TeXtreme's creator Oxeon is hoping the aerospace industry will now get serious about its carbon fabric. Oxeon estimates that if the top 20 airlines used TeXtreme to make composite panels for planes, the cost savings would top $US 70 million annually.
The CO2 savings would be equally impressive, on the order of billions of kilos of global-warming gas each year.