Jetting in Greener Skies

08/24/2017 08:54 am ET

Humans are explorers by nature -- we have that curiosity to see what's around the corner -- to see the next city or country. This exploration often involves boarding an airplane to get to a new destination. But did you know that if you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’re in the minority?

80% of People Have Never Flown

You may take for granted your regular airline trips, but every time you set foot on an airplane, you are doing something that more than 80% of people in the world have never done.

But this is about to change, because air travel is about to take off like never before – in fact it’s expected to double in the next 20 years.

That means we have both challenges and opportunities to meet that growth more sustainably. Fortunately, aviation is getting greener every day, with airlines playing a big role. I’ve talked in the blog before about how in the next 35 years, we expect to grow our population 35% -- that means more than 9 billion people on Planet Earth by 2050!

Amazing Growth in Just 15 Years

Doubling air travel in the next 20 years is amazing growth, and it's happening globally because of urbanization. This mega-trend will redefine our economy and our society, with big implications for environmental science and technology.

That’s because in 2050, nearly 70% of people will live in cities – and they are moving there for economic opportunity. That migration will lift the global middle class -- from 20% of the population today -- to 60% in the next 15 years. This means more people will have more disposable income, and more of that will go to air travel.

Jetting in Greener Skies

Today I released a podcast called Jetting in Greener Skies where I chat with JetBlue’s head of sustainability, Sophia Mendelsohn, about how we can make air travel more sustainable, while serving this growing middle class.

So whether it’s to visit family back home, or for a business trip, or to satisfy that natural curiosity that compels us to travel, we know that more people will be taking to the skies around the world. Making air travel sustainable has never been more important.

You can find The Race to 9 Billion and the latest episode on green aviation on iTunes, Google Play, and www.raceto9billion.com. I’ll be tweeting about it too, so follow me on Twitter @JohnMandyck to join the conversation.

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