Freedman: In-flight Magazines and Polar Bears
Ah yes, the dog days of summer, when even the CNN news crawl seems to slow to an actual crawl. This is the time of year when it's fun to pick out a few stories that might otherwise sail past like a catamaran on the Chesapeake that I wish I were on right now. A sleek white one balancing gracefully in the stiff southerly breeze... Alas, I am not on vacation (yet).
SAVING FUEL BY CUTTING PAPER
According to the Guardian newspaper, Emirates Airlines, which is world-renowned for their high class service, has announced they are doing away with a traditional part of air travel: the in-flight magazine. The reason? To save fuel.
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In-flight magazines have long been a great place for freelance writers to get published, especially if you're itching to write a glowing 200-word blurb about what's new in Cleveland. But in this age of airborne entertainment via personal television, Emirates thinks it can earn more money by lowering fuel consumption than it can through print advertising sales.
By removing the magazine, the airline says it could save two kilograms per seat, with a total weight savings across the entire fleet that would be equivalent to 500 seats, which is about the capacity of a Boeing 747. "We are doing it because of fuel prices and the environment," an airline spokesman told the newspaper.
The Guardian article, by Conor Purcell, includes some illuminating nuggets about the unique world of in-flight magazines. For example, Purcell reports that Japan Air Lines once earned so much advertising revenue from its bulky in flight mag that it actually reduced the number of seats in its planes in order to accommodate the magazine. Apparently advertisers really, really love a captive audience.
Considering I write for a blog, I have no qualms about moving to electronic content, like Emirates is doing, but mark my words: I will vehemently protest against any effort to take my precious SkyMall catalog off of airplanes. A guy can never have too many motorized pool loungers.
HOW TO FIGHT A POLAR BEAR LISTING
According to Reuters, the state of Alaska filed suit last week in federal court contesting the Interior Department's May 14 decision to list the Polar Bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The listing was prompted by the threat that melting sea ice poses to the ice-dependent species.
The state government doesn't want the listing to hurt oil and gas exploration or tourism, which together constitute the bulk of its economic activity. "Additional regulation of the species and its habitat under the Endangered Species Act will deter activities such as commercial fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development, transportation and tourism within and off-shore of Alaska," the lawsuit said, according to the article.
Environmentalists scoffed at the suit, with Greenpeace characterizing it as an effort to "do the bidding" of oil companies that want to drill in polar bear habitat.
On the lighter side of this issue, Alaska may be discounting the positive effects that an endangered species listing could have for the state's economy. People from the lower-48 could be more motivated to observe a species in the wild that may be gone soon, compared to an ordinary, plentiful creature.
You tell me which is more appealing advertising copy for a tourism brochure: "Come to Alaska and see an endangered polar bear, before it's too late" or "Come to Alaska and see many polar bears, because they're a lot of them up here?"
Come to think of it, they should put those ads in the in-flight magazines, which as Emirates shows may themselves be endangered, to see which proves more effective...
| August 11, 2008; 10:39 AM ET
Categories: Climate Change, Environment, Freedman, Media, News & Notes
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