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The future of flight

We don’t devote a ton of ink here to environmental technofixes, but there is one area where technofixes are urgently needed: airline travel. Plane flight is both hard on the environment and also really wonderful for people, so let’s hope some of the futuristic fuel-efficient designs featured in National Geographic pan out:


Image by Georgia Tech/Courtesy NASA

The proposed planes come with whizzy features like retractable propellers and electric drive trains for runway taxiing that should cut down on fuel use, reduce noise, and allow for shorter runways.


Image by University of Miami/Courtesy NASA

NatGeo also recently profiled Richard Branson’s new commercial space flight outfit, Virgin Galactic.


Photograph by Stefano Paltera/AP

Branson is (to put it mildly) an interesting guy, deeply engaged on the issue of climate change while also pushing ahead with new energy-hungry business ventures. Two hour flights from New York to Australia? Yes, please. Again, let’s keep our fingers crossed for progress here, because the likely alternative is that flying gets way more expensive, and way less frequent.

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