Academic air travel has a limited influence on professional success

From the Journal of Cleaner Production.

SethWynes, Simon D.Donner, SteuartTannason, NoniNabors

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.109

We found no significant difference between Green and Not-green academics in total air travel emissions, or in the types of emissions that might be easiest to avoid.

Abstract

Lowering the growth in greenhouse gas emissions from air travel may be critical for avoiding dangerous levels of climate change, and yet some individuals perceive frequent air travel to be critical to their professional success. Using a sample of 705 travellers at the University of British Columbia, we investigated the influence of career stage, research productivity, field of expertise, and other variables on academic air travel and the associated emissions. This is the first time that research has evaluated the link between observed air travel and academic success.

First, we compared air travel behaviour at different career stages and found that individuals at the start of their careers were responsible for fewer emissions from air travel than senior academics. Second, since career advancement may depend on an academic’s ability to form partnerships and disseminate their research abroad, we investigated the relationship between air travel emissions and publicly available bibliometric measurements.

We found no relationship between air travel emissions and metrics of academic productivity including hIa (h-index adjusted for academic age and discipline). There was, however, a relationship between emissions and salary that remains significant even when controlling for seniority. Finally, based on the premise that academics studying topics related to sustainability may have greater responsibility or motivation to reduce their emissions, we coded 165 researchers in our sample as either “Green” or “Not-green.”

We found no significant difference between Green and Not-green academics in total air travel emissions, or in the types of emissions that might be easiest to avoid. Taken together, this preliminary evidence suggests that there may be opportunities, especially for academics who study topics related to climate and sustainability, to reduce their emissions from air travel while maintaining productive careers.

Full paywalled article here.

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31 thoughts on “Academic air travel has a limited influence on professional success

  1. Well, this paper will be quickly buried.

    Can’t cancel all those junkets to exotic venues for weeks of chatting, boozing, noshing and sunbathing amongst thousands of devoted climate scientists.

    I mean, the private jet industry would take a massive hit and we simply can’t have mass unemployment of aircrew.

    • What would happen, I wonder, if this study could isolate the ‘location variable’? In other words, factor in for touristy spots versus non touristy spots?

      They should also work to isolate the secretary/young female researcher accompanying the senior researcher.

      Honestly, I don’t know of anyone that is fooled by the terms conference, workshop, etc when we all know very well these are junkets and/or marital escapes.

  2. A German study of voters, found that Greens were far more likely to fly to foreign holidays.

    So, given that greens are generally such massive hypocrites, the fact that there wasn’t a much higher use of air travel by those in enviro-mental subjects compared to others, should be praised? (LOL)

    • Greens are green in name only, no surprise.

      In any case, travel of academics and government workers for that matter is often a perk of the job and is viewed as such. This is shown in the fact that senior academics travel more.

  3. As long as they pay full price fore premium seats, they finance more affordable aft seats for the common people.

    However, when these would be green priority embarquement crowds disregard air travel in their PR scaremongers, I somehow feel the urge to borrow that massive Maglight from the pushback truck guy.

    • Arch-hypocrite Leonardo DiCaprio allegedly claimed that the aircraft would be going anyway, so his presence made no difference either way. I guess that was before he started travelling to save-the-world conferences in a private jet.

    • They would probably not get approval for paying for first-class seats. What they do is accumulate frequent flier points and use them for their personal vacations. And if you get enough points, you also get priority for upgrading to the front cabin. So, no, they don’t subsidize the hoi polloi.

      When the mining business was hot, I worked the frequent flier points system, so I know most of the tricks. Now, nobody wants me to go to far away projects, so I drive around Canada in a gas guzzling truck.

      • A valid point indeed Smart Rock ! Unless a seat marshalling problem escalates, we don’t deal with who’s on what bonus or company perk in the back

        But think of it, a green air travel sworn opponent on frequent miles upgrade… Obnoxious hypocrisy !

        Maybe after all I need to buy my own 5 cells Maglight.

  4. The Swedes are now considerably affected by thir Greta-influencd “air shame”, and as a result, domestic air traffic is down and rail transport significantly increasing. Which is no problem in a country where the largest cities are wihin easy range of train rides.

    Meanwhile in Asia, air traffic is growing by leaps and bounds, making a huge mockery of the Swedish climate-guilt.

    https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-04-30/flight-shame-sweden-prompts-rail-only-travel-movement

    • Now, this is very important indeed. Opinions expressed by a visibly deranged kid govern the nation’s transport economy.

      Imagine if she were to inoculate “shame of living”. Would the entire nation commit self life suppression ?

      Good thing this nation has a rather laughable air force unable to spread and share the national schizophrenia.

  5. We found no relationship between air travel emissions and metrics of academic productivity including hIa (h-index adjusted for academic age and discipline). There was, however, a relationship between emissions and salary that remains significant even when controlling for seniority. Finally, based on the premise that academics studying topics related to sustainability may have greater responsibility or motivation to reduce their emissions, we coded 165 researchers in our sample as either “Green” or “Not-green.”

    Well then, there is a simple solution…
    Immediately lower the salaries of senior scientists at all universities and they won’t be able to afford to fly anywhere…
    Problem solved

    As far as Green, Not Green goes…Not Green, Watermelon

  6. Bill Shorten here in Australia was the ALP leader bleating on and on about climate change and CO2 emissions is not on holiday in Bali. Did you walk Bill since being binned by the ALP? Did you catch a sail ship? What’s the bet you flew, no not by flapping your gums, but by plane, powered by AVGAS!

  7. “We found no significant difference…in the types of emissions that might be easiest to avoid.”

    Dog whistle language for “don’t feel guilty, go on the junket!”

  8. No one has yet noticed that there is something called:

    The Journal of Cleaner Production

    • A ScienceDirect publication from Elsevier, with an impact factor of 6.395 which is pretty darn high, and puts them in the upper-middle of the pack for 2nd tier journals..

  9. “Finally, based on the premise that academics studying topics related to sustainability may have greater responsibility or motivation to reduce their emissions, we coded 165 researchers in our sample as either “Green” or “Not-green.”

    Merely opinion masquerading as scientific method.

    • “Merely opinion masquerading as scientific method.”

      You don’t seem to understand the scientific method, Joel. Research starts with a hypothesis. It may indeed be based on opinions, but then data is collected to test the hypothesis. If the data confirms the hypothesis (and the research design and analysis methodologies were valid) then the result is no longer “merely opinion.”

  10. All climate related meetings can be held over the internet. The technology is in place to do that. All of this air travel is completely unnecessary and just wastes fossil fuels and adds CO2 to our atmosphere.

  11. Excellent. There is now no reason why climate academics can’t hold their conferences using Skype and ride bicycles to work.

    • Ah! – but what about the massive data centres the NSA and others are building to store all the words sprouted over the internet. These use energy; lots of energy; energy powered by coal mostly. We would be better off if they all just stayed home AND shut up.

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