One pilot missed the point

I have this “letter to the editor” on my desk that is too good to throw away, still I don’t know what to do with it. So I’ll just translate it freely from Swedish and post it here for your enjoyment.

The letter is a response to another letter to the editor from “LS” and goes like this:

“I’ve been a pilot all my professional life, largely with SAS. The last five years I flew long distance with Boeing 767 and Airbus 340 to, among other places, Thailand. LS’s statement that a trip to Thailand corresponds to a release of two tons of carbon dioxide per passenger is an exaggeration of colossal magnitude!

“An A340 weights maximum 260 tons when it departs from Copenhagen and has 261 passengers, 11 crew. That means 272 persons on board.

“Releasing two tons of carbon dioxide per person would come to 544 tons. The fuel load is about 100 tons, of which six tons remain after landing in Bangkok.

“To ensure that the discussion on environmental impact remains credible, such absurd statements as those of LS must be avoided.”

Carbon dioxide molecule

Now, I must admit that such incredibly unscientific remarks from a professional airline pilot scares me more than a little bit. I never saw a response to the above letter to the editor, so I assume a lot of readers swallowed it whole.

With the numbers above, two tons of carbon dioxide per passenger is entirely possible. If you don’t see how, go back to your high school chemistry, or ask any high school kid, and they’ll tell you how this works out.

To be entirely fair, the number comes to almost 1.3 tons per passenger so LS exaggerated a bit, but I think the pilot who wrote the letter thought it came to 94 tons divided by 272, that is 0.35 tons per passenger. It sure looks like that from his letter.

And, no, I’m not going to publish the pilot’s name, even though he signed his letter to the editor in full. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

PS: this isn’t an april fools joke either.