Sustainability, Ethical Responsibility, and Environmental Impacts of the Aviation
Sustainability, Ethical Responsibility, and Environmental Impacts of the Aviation Industry. The world we live in does a pretty good job at self-destructing and repairing itself. A number of technological creations and the rise of the industrial era accelerated the consumption of materials and energy at a concerning rate. Businesses have conducted operations with little regard for the natural environment causing environmental consequences that if ignored will have irreversible negative results for our planet. The aviation industry is no exception and since its deregulation it has continuously grown parallel to its negative effects to the environment. “The 1978 Aviation Deregulation Act brought an end to all regulation of the domestic aviation market in the US” (Gossling & Upham, 2009). The deregulation of the US civil aviation influenced other markets such as the European and Southeast Asian markets. Furthermore, it allowed the qualities of a free market to take place lowering fare prices, causing the demand for air travel to catapult to unprecedented heights. These business growth brought profitability while simultaneously giving rise to a number of ethical issues in the aviation industry. Although the aviation industry is showing great progress towards social responsibility, it will take the industry’s executive echelon, environmental groups, and society all together to act in concert in order to achieve sustainability, set realistic standards, and bring about constructive changes. The main purpose of this paper is to utilize a number of ethical concepts and data to study the industry’s effects on the natural environment and the actions taken by major airlines such as Delta and American Airlines. Climate change, air pollution, energy conservation, aviation related emissions, and ozone depletion have been the subject of numerous academic and scientific researches. The aforementioned issues not only affect the natural environment, but can affect a business social survivability if not properly managed. After all, if we don’t take these issues seriously, there will be no world to inhabit and no travelers to transport. The aviation industry is no stranger to the concept of sustainability and is increasingly taking a number of measures to ensure the wellbeing of future generations while meeting today’s needs and wants. The aviation industry as a whole has a special interest on the topic of climate change or as most commonly known Global Warming. Former Vice President Al Gore enlightened the public and made this issue a real and not so distant crisis. Seating at the top of the industries most affected by the potential by products of global warming is the aviation industry. Some studies show that “aviation contributes a small but growing proportion to this problem, less than 4% of man-made atmospheric emissions” (EUROCONTROL, 2014). However, unlike the most traditional forms of emissions, aircraft flying in the upper atmosphere could have a more significant effect on climate change. The aviation industry is directly responsible for contributing to this reluctant and damaging effects. It does this through condensation trails (contrails), greenhouse gas emissions above and below 1000 feet, and water vapors that prevent solar heat trapped inside the atmosphere to return to space. Weather plays a role in aviation affecting flight routes, efficiency, and demand for travel. Hurricanes and natural catastrophes affect the demand for traveling to key touristic destinations, affecting the industry’s financial performance. Several government and environmental agencies are creating and considering a number of policies to reduce aircraft emissions, fuel consumption, and the formation of contrails, just to name a few. Some of these policies results are inconclusive at the moment, but the...
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