JetBlue to Be First Carbon Neutral Airline in U.S.
Discount airline, JetBlue, plans to be the nation's first airline to be carbon neutral when it begins in July to purchase carbon offsets for all of its flights, according to CBS News.
"Air travel connects people and cultures, and supports a global economy, yet we must act to limit this critical industry's contributions to climate change," said Robin Hayes, JetBlue's CEO in a press release. "We reduce where we can and offset where we can't. By offsetting all of our domestic flying, we're preparing our business for the lower-carbon economy that aviation – and all sectors – must plan for."
JetBlue also announced that starting in July all of its flights departing from San Francisco International Airport will run on "sustainable" fuel.
The sustainable fuel it will purchase is made by Neste. Called MY Renewable Jet Fuel, the fuel is made 100 percent from waste and residue raw materials. It's fully compatible with existing jet engine technology. The JetBlue press release says that throughout its lifecycle, the "sustainable" fuel has a carbon footprint that is up to 80 percent smaller that fossil jet fuel.
JetBlue will invest in carbon offsets, by donating money to environmental projects including forest conservation; capturing and reusing methane gas emitted from landfills; and developing solar and wind farms in areas that would otherwise rely on fossil fuels for energy, as CBS News reported.
While the company did not disclose the cost, it did say buying carbon offsets would not force the airline to raise prices.
"This is the cost of doing business," said a JetBlue spokeswoman in an email to CBS News. "We've always anticipated customer's need and expectations — from TV to leg room. From a business perspective this is similar. The difference is that in addition to answering our customers' needs, it also addresses an urgent societal issue, growing emissions."
The airline produces over 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The company is working on a plan to compensate for international flights, said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's head of sustainability, as Bloomberg News reported.
The move to buy offsets now also makes financial sense as the demand for carbon offsets increases with public pressure.
"By purchasing these now, we're ostensibly locking in a hedge against rising CO2 prices," said Mendelsohn as Bloomberg News reported. Other U.S. carriers purchase offsets on a far more limited basis.
JetBlue is following in the footsteps of Europe's second-largest discount airline, EasyJet, which announced in November that it would be the first airline to offset emissions from its flights, according to Bloomberg News.
The idea of buying offsets draws criticism from environmentalists who see it as a way to throw money at a problem that really requires a change in behavior. Kevin Anderson, a climate change researcher, has written that "offsetting is worse than doing nothing" because it allows people and companies to continue emitting greenhouse gasses without feeling the need to change their behavior, as CBS News reported.
However, others praise the company for acknowledging the detrimental impact of its carbon footprint, looking to address it, and to support sustainable fuels. Mark Jaccard, a longtime climate policy researcher and author of The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success told CBS News, "We need more airlines talking like this, and that is really nice."
JetBlue is working with consultants at EcoAct and South Pole, as well as Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit organization that's funded carbon-reduction and tree-planting projects across more than 40 states and 20 countries to help direct its offsets, as Bloomberg News reported.
"We have put an incredible amount of rigor behind making sure these are real, they're legitimate, they're auditable, they're traceable," Mendelsohn said, as Bloomberg News reported. "We selected a carbon offset partner with a long-term reputation that's survived the squalls of carbon offsetting ups and downs."
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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