The Distinction between Need and Want

June 23, 2023

In a recent front page banner headline in The Concord Bridge, it reported that Massport claimed a need to expand facilities for private jets at Hanscom Field, adding 27 new hangars, each of which can accommodate 2-3 private jets. When my children were growing up, they often told me they “needed” another video game or some such. What they meant was that was what they wanted but there was no need or necessity. 

So why do so many more wealthy people suddenly want to have the convenience of flying in private jets? With the advent of Zoom and other remote business applications, I do not believe it is due to increased demands of business. Rather, it is to avoid the hassle of getting to Logan Airport and avoiding the crowds there, which they can do because they have the money, while the vast majority of us do not. And it is well established that most private jet flights are to resort destinations.

There is one overwhelming reason why this project should be stopped. That is the extraordinary amounts of greenhouse gases emitted by private jets. A 2.5 hour flight of an average private jet emits about 20 tons of CO2e, whether it burns standard jet fuel or so-called sustainable jet fuel. At the current rate of 38,100 jet operations a year that is 752,000 tons of CO2e per year.  In comparison, a typical car emits about 20 tons of CO2 per year.

Massachusetts has a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050. However, the likely increase in private jet usage due to the expansion of jet facilities at Hansom Field will negate most other efforts to reduce emissions.

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Janet Miller

Main Street