For my second to last post about our trip to Hawaii, I wanted to point out something about energy consumption and CO2 emissions that I had not previously appreciated.
We flew from Boston to San Francisco (2704 miles) and then San Francisco to Honolulu (2398 miles), for a total of 5102 miles each way or 10204 miles total. How much fuel did we use (assigning us our per capita share for the plane as a whole)?
This page cites an FAA estimate of 48 miles-per-gallon-per-seat and notes that a gallon of jet fuel and a gallon of gasoline create about the same amount of CO2 emissions. This means that as a family, our share of the fuel used was about 4 x 10204 / 48 = 850 gallons. Let's compare that to two other fuel numbers around the Samwick household.
First, I estimate that we drive our cars no more than 1000 miles a month on average and get at least 20 miles per gallon on average, resulting in gasoline consumption of no more than (12 x 1000 / 20) = 600 gallons per year.
Second, we have used about 1100 gallons of #2 fuel oil to heat our home in each of the past few years. (What can I say, we like to be comfortable?) This page shows the CO2 emissions by fuel type, putting the fuel oil on a par with jet fuel, which are both a bit higher than gasoline.
One (glorious) trip to Hawaii used 75% of the fuel we use to heat our home or 140% of the fuel we use to power our cars, with corresponding amounts of CO2 emitted.
As it pertains to energy and environmental policy, this example shows how important it is to be comprehensive in our attempts to reduce oil demand. The most straightforward way to do that is to levy a tax on all fuel products derived from petroleum. It allows abatement to occur at every possible margin--by flying, driving, or heating less or by using technologies that are more fuel efficient.