Science | August 8, 2019 10:18 am

Flying Soon? See How Much Arctic Melting You’re Causing.

The website Shame Plane calculates the carbon emissions of air travel

Shame Plane Flight Carbon Emissions Website
How much Arctic ice will melt because of one passenger's roundtrip flight from NYC to Paris. If you go first class, it more than doubles.
Shame Plane

We know that air travel causes a good chunk of global carbon emissions, and as it stands those emissions are forecasted to rise. But when you’re just one single person among the 2.7 million the Federal Aviation Administration serves every single day, it’s hard to figure out how big of an impact you are personally having on the planet.  

That’s why Victor Müller created Shame Plane. The website from the Swedish digital designer calculates not just the amount of climate change-causing carbon emissions from your flight, it spits out exactly how much Arctic sea ice will melt because of your single plane ticket. 

All you have to do is enter your departure and arrival cities, whether it’s a roundtrip flight or not, and which of three sections you’ll be seated in (first class, business or economy). For example, a roundtrip economy flight for one person from New York’s JFK airport to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle emits 2.3 tons of carbon dioxide and will melt 6.9 square meters of Arctic ice. A first class ticket bumps that up to 5.8 tons and 17.4 square meters. 

To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal for curbing climate change, people should only produce three tons of carbon emissions in one year (with lower goals set starting in 2030).

If your first thought is: this designer should take a good hard look in the mirror and work on his issues before criticizing me. Well, that’s exactly how this all started. As Vox reports, Müller wanted to figure out his personal impact on climate change because he felt he was doing a good job by eating vegetarian and using reusable bags. “But when he tallied up his efforts next to his air travel, the numbers were ‘shocking and paralyzing,’” writes Vox.

Thus, with the help of developer Dennis Mårtensson, Shame Plane was created to show how air travel is a much larger contributor to your personal carbon emissions output than most people realize. On the website, you can even compare how much your flight pollutes versus offsetting actions like using LED bulbs, eating local and living car free.

Despite the name of the website, Müller says this was a personal project rather than a means of calling people out. As he told Vox, “I never meant to shame anyone when I built it, but if you can justify flying like there is no tomorrow, then good for you, let me know your secret.”

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