The trip home was uneventful, although mom did find the combination of
Israeli and post-9-11 American security rather daunting - noting that, like Israel, in
many ways we also live in a police state. Moshe (Moses), the driver that brought us
from the airport returned to guide our exodus from the holy land.
The TLV-ATL flight was right on time, although the ATL-SHV flight got
delayed around an hour and a half because they needed to call in a reserve
pilot. To take advantage of winds, the TLV-ATL flight took a slightly more circuitous
route than our flight over, flying over Iceland and Greenland, the latter of
which appeared quite frosty and inaptly named. But the bluish midnight
sun was a novel experience.
At the conclusion of our flights, I made a point of asking the pilots
(greeting us at the door) how many pounds of jet fuel our flights used. The
600-mile SHV-ATL legs used around 3,500 lbs each. The 6,800-mile ATL-TLV and
TLV-ATL legs used 240,000 and 225,000 lbs, respectively. Jet engines are actually
quite efficient, and those figures represent the thermodynamic equivalent of
50-60 passenger-miles per gallon of gasoline. The issue is that the time-space
compression resulting from the high speed of air travel makes it possible to
use so much fuel in a comparatively short amount of time.
Using a carbon coefficient of 3.1 lbs C per lb of jet fuel (calculated from
EIA 2001), for the two of us, our travel resulted in around 4.6 tons of
CO2 emissions, not including emissions from around 350 miles of
bus travel around Israel or secondary emissions resulting from demands like
power needed to run airports and airline operations. As my mother only drives
around 5,000 miles per year (in a 30 MPG 2004 Toyota RAV4) , the energy used
for our one week in Israel was around the total amount of transportation energy she
uses in a whole year.
But it was the experience of a lifetime, so I'd say it was worth it.