Carbon is a natural element on our planet. It is a very important element which controls the habitability of this planet. We are all prisoners on the planet much like the passengers on a cruise ship. The atmosphere is only so thick. The land can only absorb so much carbon. Permafrost regions of the earth store immense amounts of carbon until it releases during warming trends. A warming trend begins when additional carbon is present without any abatement of its impact in the atmosphere. A vicious planetary heating cycle starts when added carbon into the planet's eco system cannot be absorbed by its natural processes. In fact the earth loses its ability to store carbon as it warms from more atmospheric carbon content. The thin blue line protecting us from above, is no thicker than a sheet of tissue paper wrapped around a basketball when comparing the earths size to its protective atmospheric layer.
Virgin Airlines takes carbon seriously. It has made it an objective of reducing its carbon footprint by 30%. Several factors counter this intent. One is the airplane traffic growth, which will quickly overwhelm Virgin's noble stand. Number 2 is the condition where other airlines continue with a flood of older equipment, while nullifying other airlines effort to reduce its carbon emissions. The problem of carbon emission is here to stay. Taxing the carbon emissions footprint is foolish idea, when there isn't a solution yet. However, making steps of reducing carbon through upgraded equipment is a phase airlines must take. The expansion of air travel has a finite boundary on the planet, and commerce cannot assume infinite growth for its flying customers as a constant.
Recent advances in engine technology and carbon emissions is only the first step, out of many more to come, in order to balance the planet's ability to absorb carbon within its natural cycles. Otherwise we just will get hotter, then burn more electricity on air conditioning, and make more carbon. The top down solution of protecting the atmosphere first is the best start for a solution.
Having more atmospheric carbon suspended absorbs more sunlight and heats us up, They call it green house gasses. Having too little carbon freezes the planet. The planet has a fine balance for humans, and I am not even an environmentalist when saying so. We now have a problem of making our own suffocating hot box from the top down.
The future of flight may become imperiled by these actual carbon progressions. Richard Branson gets It! Virgin Airlines is trying to show the way we can survive, and travel in the air. We, as a population of flyers, can stay airborne longer into the future if all of us recognize every contrail overhead is atmospheric loading of carbon (green house) gasses. There maybe limits someday, of how many airplanes can exist along with the other carbon loading functions from industry.