Overweight passengers lead to higher airplane CO2 emissions

Everybody knows the U.S. is in the grips of an obesity epidemic. And many folks know that airplanes are major sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which exacerbates global warming. But did you know that the former is contributing in a significant way to the latter? Neither did we — until now. Americans’ average weight rose by 10 pounds during the 1990s, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that caused airlines to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000, costing them $275 million and producing an estimated 3.8 million extra tons of CO2. With fuel reaching record high prices, airlines are taking steps to reduce weight, but they haven’t put StairMasters in airports. Yet.