Protect the Arctic From Black Carbon Pollution

Target: Michael Huerta, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration

Goal: End commercial air travel over the Arctic Circle to slow loss of sea ice.

The consensus of scientists across a diverse range of disciplines holds that man-made carbon emissions are having a devastating impact on the level of arctic sea ice. Arctic sea ice plays a critical role in moderating global temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere. A dramatic reduction in sea ice over the past 20 years has been observed with a parallel rise in commercial air travel over the Arctic Circle.

Black carbon is a byproduct of most combustion-generated transportation, and is especially present in the jet fuel burned by commercial aircraft. Over 50,000 international flights are directed over the Arctic Circle each year, leaving mass quantities of black carbon blanketed on arctic sea ice. This layer of carbon absorbs sunlight, leading to an increased rate of ice melt.

A paper presented in Climatic Change indicated that diverting all flights away from the Arctic Circle may potentially slow the loss of arctic sea ice. For instance, a total diversion policy would reduce emissions of black carbon by up to 83% and reduce global warming by 2%. While the transition of all commercial air travel away from routes through the Arctic Circle would potentially increase transportation costs by $100 million annually, this represents around one fiftieth of projected future costs related to climate change, if arctic sea ice disappears completely for much of the year.

Climate change is a reality which we can no longer address through empty political rhetoric or the hope of future action. Please sign the below petition calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to immediately divert all commercial air travel away from the Arctic Circle.


Dear Administrator Huerta,

The level of sea ice in the arctic has dropped to its lowest recorded figure since at least 1950. A primary driver of this reduction is the over 50,000 commercial flights which pass over the Arctic Circle annually. A substantial amount of black carbon is emitted through the burning of jet fuel, blanketing sea ice and leading to increased melting through the absorption of sunlight.

You are in a unique position to establish a policy with the potential to reverse the loss of sea ice in the arctic. This could be accomplished by diverting all flight paths away from the Arctic Circle, which scientists predict would immediately slow the rate of melting, and may lead to a restoration of arctic ice in the future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    don’t melt the ice!

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