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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HotScot
June 25, 2019 2:13 am

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.

Frenchie77
Reply to  HotScot
June 25, 2019 4:05 am

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.

R Shearer
Reply to  Frenchie77
June 25, 2019 5:32 am

Ah, we must go to Bali to discuss these things.

Reply to  R Shearer
June 25, 2019 8:59 am

send moi!
On someone else’s money of course.
I’m sure there is devastation everywhere.
I will report back here with results… I promise.

Another Ian
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 25, 2019 1:01 pm

Well known that any worthwhile report needs actual sampling

Bryan A
Reply to  Frenchie77
June 25, 2019 6:02 am

The problem with this is that very seldom are Climate conferences held in non touristy spots. I have yet to hear of a Climate Conference or even a Science Conference being held in Antarctica or someplace less desirable

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Bryan A
June 25, 2019 9:03 am

Like, say, Cleveland?

R Shearer
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
June 25, 2019 10:37 am

How about Aleppo?

June 25, 2019 2:40 am

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)

R Shearer
Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
June 25, 2019 5:35 am

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.

MarkW
Reply to  R Shearer
June 25, 2019 6:26 am

Demanding that other people sacrifice is enough for most liberals/greens.

Trebla
June 25, 2019 3:40 am

The difference between talk the talk and fly the fly?

Flight Level
June 25, 2019 3:58 am

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.

michael hart
Reply to  Flight Level
June 25, 2019 4:39 am

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.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Flight Level
June 25, 2019 8:45 am

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.

Flight Level
Reply to  Smart Rock
June 25, 2019 12:39 pm

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.

Fenlander
June 25, 2019 4:49 am

More research like this is desperately required. I haven’t laughed so much in ages.

Henning Nielsen
June 25, 2019 5:44 am

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

Flight Level
Reply to  Henning Nielsen
June 25, 2019 7:51 am

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.

Bryan A
June 25, 2019 5:58 am

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

Patrick MJD
June 25, 2019 5:58 am

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!

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Patrick MJD
June 25, 2019 4:46 pm

Maybe he went by boogie board?

zack
June 25, 2019 6:37 am

“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!”

Reply to  Charles Rotter
June 25, 2019 9:17 am

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..

June 25, 2019 8:57 am

“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.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 25, 2019 11:03 am

“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.”

James
June 25, 2019 9:36 am

sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.109

Non pay walled link above.

Wiliam Haas
June 25, 2019 1:25 pm

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.

Bruce of Newcastle
June 25, 2019 4:44 pm

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

Clarky of Oz
Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
June 25, 2019 7:25 pm

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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