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Trees needed for carbon
Depending on how you go, that road trip or jet plane could require a veritable forest of trees to offset. So we calculated just that. Illustration by Lucy Engelman

When you road-trip to Disney or jet first class across the country, you feel the sucker punch to your savings. Appre­ci­ating how it impacts the planet is more abstract. So we represented the carbon cost of a solo 1,700-mile trip from Chicago to L.A. as the area of trees needed to counteract it. (For reference, a sapling can eat up to 50 pounds of CO2 each year.) Depending on how you go, offsetting a trip could require a veritable forest.

  1. Car—Electric, power from wind: 0 lb. of CO2
  2. Coach Bus: 289 lb. of CO2
  3. Car—Electric, power from oil: 549 lb. of CO2
  4. Train: 629 lb. of CO2
  5. Plane—Economy class: 643 lb. of CO2
  6. Plane—First class: 1,286 lb. of CO2
  7. Car—Gas powered: 1,836 lb. of CO2
  8. Car—SUV: 2,363 lb. of CO2

RELATED: Rising temperatures are causing soil to dump more carbon dioxide into the air

Source: UCS green travel report, 2008; European Commission Well-to-wheels report

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 Transportation issue of Popular Science.

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