photo: Alessandro Giangiulio via flickr.
It may be a serious headache if you're in the middle of it and trying to get someplace, but the Iceland volcano eruption shutting down air travel has had one decidedly positive environmental effect. Resurgence magazine has posted on their Facebook page an interesting stat attributed to the Plane Stupid: "200,000 tonnes per a day of CO2 emissions have been prevented as a result of cancelled flights - that's the same as 100,000 households would create in a whole year."
How that figure was derived isn't entirely clear in terms of what assumptions were made, is that just passenger flights, et cetera--I'm waiting to hear back from Plane Stupid on that and will update the post when I've got that info--but think about it.
UPDATE: Leo Murray from Plane Stupid responded:
UK aviation in 2005 accounted for 37.5 million tones of CO2.
That's 100,000 tonnes day.
But that figure of 37.5 is based only on flights leaving UK airports and doesn't count the ones arriving here. So you can double that to 200,000 tonnes
Think about it: One day of aviation in Europe has the same emissions as those related to 100,000 households for a year. And that doesn't include the effects of radiative forcing.
A Quieter World Without Planes...
Another positive consequence Plane Stupid is highlighting:
It turns out the UK is actually rather a pleasant place to be when there's not a constant drone of aircraft overhead. Thousands of residents living under the flightpath have suddenly been blessed with a taste of life without being woken up at 4.30am on a daily basis by aeroplanes thundering overhead. Perhaps if we weren't tormented by high levels of noise and air pollution on a daily basis, fewer people would feel the desire to board a plane to leave the country for a break.
We're constantly preached at by the aviation industry about the essential nature of air travel. Like the 'essential' cargo flights from Nottingham East Midlands Airport to transport goods which are now being transported... wait for it... OVERLAND. According to a UPS delivery spokesperson, European roads are actually "very drivable" (Volcano reminds us all there's life after aviation).
More on Iceland Volcano:
Don't Go Into The Survival Shelter: Icelandic Volcano Eruption Unlikely To Have Global Impact
Erupting Volcano's Incredible Impact (Slideshow)
More on Aviation Carbon Emissions:
World's Airlines Pledge to Cut Emission 50% by 2050
Greener Flying: Not All Flights Are Created Equal