The term jet-setter was coined in the 1950s and referred to people who flew from one party to the next. Jet-setting for pleasure and business is common today, and it’s expected to become even more popular in the coming decades.


Air travel currently emits about 2 percent of global warming pollution worldwide. But analysts believe those emissions could triple if left unchecked.

Major technological improvements for airplanes could take decades to develop and implement. So the U.S. National Research Council convened a committee to create a national research agenda.

Thole: “Our committee looked at technologies that we could try to implement in the next 30 years.”

Karen Thole
Karen Thole

That’s committee member Karen Thole of Penn State. She says the group identified four research priorities that could provide the industry with the greatest reduction in global warming pollution. For example, the report calls for better integration of the propulsion system into the airplane design and advances in sustainable alternative jet fuels.

Thole: “It’s definitely a long-term vision on what we need to do.”

Thole says the next step is to convince researchers and industry that this vision is the best approach to reducing emissions.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Airplane photo: Copyright protected.

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A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections since 2012, David Appell, Ph.D., is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon, specializing in the physical sciences, technology, and the environment. His...