January 18, 2007

Naive expectations

In September 2005, [British Airways] began offering its passengers the opportunity to pay a voluntary surcharge, which it spends on renewable energy, energy efficiency, forest restoration, and other activities that offset the greenhouse gases emitted by its flights. The payments are tiny compared to the price of a ticket: for example, $27.77 for a roundtrip flight between London and Johannesburg. Yet, as of late 2005 fewer than one in 200 passengers had elected to pay the surcharge. This contrasts with the 30% of British respondents who, in a 2002 global opinion survey, selected “pollution and other environmental problems” as the first or second greatest danger facing the world, out of five choices that also included AIDS and other infectious diseases, religious and ethnic hatred, nuclear weapons, and the rich/poor gap.
From a paper by Jeffrey R. Vincent in Ecological Research.

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