The term ‘Sustainable’ was first introduced in 1972 from United Nations conference on Ecological Sustainable Development, whereby the spotlight was focused on reconciliation of environment and economic development. (Sustainable Development, 2012). This essay discusses how aviation industries efforts to a sustainable future are mere tokenism. Cited by Daley B. et al, ‘Sustainability means balancing economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of development, both for present and future generation’. The term ‘Sustainable’ came to better light in the UN publication “Our Common Future” from 1987, better known as the Brundtland Report. It defines Sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. (Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 43). It’s about trying to achieve a balance between a better ecology and business. The aviation industry’s promise to achieve high sustainability is limited in reality to what is portrayed. The examples of this have been mentioned in this essay. Brundtland Report suggest that everyone has a right to sleep, eat and meet their basic needs however, aviation has impacted on the social and environmental concerns locally and globally. The local concerns include aircraft noise for people living in the airport vicinity and beneath flying paths, air pollution due to the emission of Nitrogen oxides and other gases and other impacts including habitat destruction and contamination of land and water. Communities living around congested airports can be seen as not meeting sustainability demands. This can be seen in the complaints against Heathrow airport for noise, air and water pollution. The de-icing process at Heathrow has been responsible for impacting the local environment. Coombs D.(2011) reported, discharge from de icing fluid containing glycol, a common ingredient of this fluid, as cause of death of fish in the lake near Bedfont in 2008. This is applied to aeroplanes and runways during periods of cold weather. The airport uses tunnel system to discharge excess water runoff into the lake. In 2008 it exceeded the maximum lawful limit as a result the oxygen levels plummeted resulting in killings of fishes like stickleback, perch and tench and relocation of thousand of other fishes to adjacent lake. This was not the only adverse effect of the drainage but local business too was affected. The Princess Ski Club, which had leased the lake, faced losses as it was forced to close for a week to clean up the place. Heathrow, rated as one of the biggest hubs in the world created hazards affecting the surrounding environment and also ruined local community business. CAA (2011) reports comment that, Heathrow accounts for more than a quarter of people affected by noise. This impact accounts for 28.5% of the European population, a total of 700,00 people being affected by just one airport in UK. The impacts of noise resulted in sleep disorders, annoyance and also affecting child’s concentration and learning. The effects of aviation tokenism can be evidently seen in this context, where there has been a ban implied by government to have no flight departure or landing before 6a.m. in order to control noise levels and not disturb local residents but LAANC (2012) discovered that nearly 16 airlines depart before 6 a.m., one of them being Cathay Pacific, thus ignoring any social damages. Further damages include stress, anxiety and ill-health specially among the vulnerable such as children and elderly. (Daley B. 2010) Daley B. illustrates the different ways noise is produced by the industry. Besides the engine, other factors that create noise is while landing and take off and ground operations, taxiing, engine testing and use of auxiliary power. According to the UK Noise Association (2000), studies have shown link between noise and heart attacks, increasing it to 30% if living near airport. The World Health...
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Harmond P., MP
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