Carbon emissions (Taylor’s Version)


Kate Verity, Contributing Writer

Private jets are considered to be one of the least environmentally friendly forms of travel. Although they are incredibly convenient and safe for celebrities and high-profile individuals, they statistically release the most carbon into the atmosphere per passenger.  

Using data presented by a Twitter account called CelebrityJets (@CelebJets), that tracks the flights of celebrities’ private jets, the data analysis group known as Yard conducted a study to measure which celebrities are emitting the most carbon through their flying habits. 

According to the data, celebrities emitted approximately 3376.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from January to July in 2022. This is 482.37 times more carbon than the average person emits each year. 

Dr. Christine Mutiti is an associate professor of environmental science at GC. She explained what carbon emissions are and why they have such a negative impact on the planet. 

“The problem is we’re burning so much fossil fuel, and they are releasing carbon dioxide, which is one of the biggest greenhouse gasses, so we’re increasing how much greenhouse gas is in the atmosphere, and more heat is getting trapped than escaping, so it’s getting warmer,” Mutiti said. 

“It’s not that it’s any much more than vehicles or commercial jets,” Mutiti said. “It’s the fact that if you compare a commercial jet that is carrying over 300 passengers versus a private jet carrying three or four passengers, the two are burning a significant amount of fuel and out of the exhaust fumes comes carbon dioxide.” 

Topping the list of celebrities whose private jets have been in the air the most in 2022 is Taylor Swift. This pop icon’s jet spent 15.9 days in the air in just the first half of 2022. Swift underwent fire for her vast levels of carbon emissions, especially on social media. 

In response, her PR team released the following statement, “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.” 

Dr. Mikkel Christensen, assistant professor of mass communication,  conducted research on crisis communication and is the faculty advisor for PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America. Christensen gave his take on how Swift’s PR team handled the backlash of the situation. 

“They addressed the fact that her plane has been used the most, but they argued that most of the time it wasn’t her,” Christensen said. “I don’t know if I would have done that. She basically just defended the actions and tried to justify them without looking to change course. And at a time when there’s so much emphasis on climate change, it seems hypocritical. If I were on her PR team, I would probably try to look forward and see how we can lower our emissions and try to do something about that instead of just not taking any responsibility.” 

GC students are also very aware of climate change and the greenhouse effect. It can be frustrating to see celebrities emit so much carbon on a regular basis while ordinary people are trying to manage their own significantly smaller carbon footprints through measures like carpooling and recycling. 

Sienna Slater is a sophomore environmental science major at GC. She has learned about the negative impacts of global warming and carbon emissions in many of her classes. 

“The amount of greenhouse gasses that are released into the air has really negative effects on the environment, and the only way to stop and reduce climate change is to reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the air,” Slater said. “We’re already at a point where climate change is irreversible, and the more we do it, the more irreversible it’s going to get. But I think that commercial airlines probably are the bigger problem and contribute more to carbon emissions than celebrities.” 

Slater feels that although the statistics about celebrities seem large and notable, commercial airlines are still used way more frequently and are therefore presenting a larger issue, especially with how much more difficult it would be to reduce their use. 

As a whole, if humanity wants to reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere and warming the planet, it will take measures from everybody, regardless of celebrity status.