The Real Costs Wiki

This is the Wiki for the Real Costs project.

This will store information about our data sources, references, mathematical/scientific equations, etc.

The original dynamic Wiki for the Real Costs site was lost. With the help of's Wayback Machine, its content was recovered in Summer 2012 and built into the static page you see now.


Compiled List of Working/Not-Working Sites



Totally Broken (TURNED OFF)

Not Attempted Yet (add URLs here if you want them to work!)

International sites are funky. Tons of scary <iframe>'s. grrrr.....

Adding New Sites

In order to add new sites to the list of supported sites, follow this procedure:

Find the CSS id of the element (usually a
) before which the carbon header will be inserted.

Add that id into the headerId array in the following format:


It is important to note that many of these major airplane sites have subdomains for their ticketing server, e.g. runs all of the ticketing off of we have to account for this in the above array.

Also note: Array key (i.e.: "ata") is the url minus the "www." and the ".com". If there is a subdomain it needs to be stripped of the period separating the subdomain and the domain (i.e.: "" becomes "resnwa")

Adding a site which uses <iframe>. (ewwwww)

The same procedure is followed but there is the extra step of getting "into" the page that the iframe calls.

we will use as an example.

  • first view the source code of page that contains the flight info. (after the initial search)
  • we are looking to see if the page uses iframes. If it does than go back to the page itself. right-click or control-click and click this frame->view source.
  • note the url of the frame. place this into the array following the instructions found above.
  • the rest is as above.

Air Travel Data 2-21-07

How we are calculating the distance travelled and the emissions data

Air Travel Emissions

1.36 lbs of CO2e per mile per passenger.

full explanation from from:

The average passenger miles per gallon for a domestic or international trip originating in the U.S. equals 33.4, according to Transportation, Energy, and the Environment, Section A - U.S. Energy Consumption and Transportation Sector Energy Consumption, Table 4-21.
Burning a gallon of jet fuel produces 21.095 lbs of CO2 according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Information Administration, Instructions for Form EIA 1605B, Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Appendix B.
The result is that each passenger mile creates 0.63 lbs. of CO2 (21.095 lbs. per gallon divided by 33.4 passenger miles per gallon).
Air travel also creates significant non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. These are expressed as CO2 equivalents, or CO2e. The Climate Neutral Network (CN), has done significant research on this topic, and estimates that the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions are at least as significant as the CO2 impacts. After considerable discussion, BEF and CN have agreed that the appropriate approach is to double the 0.63 lbs. of CO2, with a result of 1.26 lbs. of total CO2e per passenger mile (CO2 + non-CO2 greenhouse gasses).
An additional 8 percent is added to cover the emissions associated with the upstream refining of jet fuel according to the Climate Neutral Network. The result is that 1.36 lbs. of CO2e are created for each passenger mile traveled (1.26 + 8% = 1.36).

flying distance between U.S. and Canadian Airports


javascript calculator.

Distance Calculator (world wide)


"Courtesy of, this service uses data from the US Census and a supplementary list of cities around the world to find the latitude and longitude of two places, and then calculates the distance between them (as the crow flies). It also provides a map showing the two places, using the Xerox PARC Map Server."

another javascript calculator that can calculate distance between any two points on the globe.

other sources for code (not investigated thoroughly)

Per Person Emissions Data

U.S. Per Person emissions

24.3 tons CO2/person/year

Japan Per Person emissions

10.7 tons CO2/person/year

E.U. Per Person emissions

10.6 tons CO2/person/year

China Per Person emissions

3.9 tons CO2/person/year

India Per Person emissions

1.9 tons CO2/person/year

World average Per Person emissions

5.6 tons CO2/person/year


About Carbon Offsetting

Most Carbon Offset (Carbon Sequestration) programs involve large scale tree planting and reforestation projects. Planting trees is certainly beneficial, but not because it is such a clear cut way to store carbon. Once a tree dies the carbon lost through decomposition is more than it stores, so it's not a long term solution. Rather, planting trees provides short term carbon storage. But is also critical to so many biodiversity and conservation issues.

Additionally, environmentally minded economists (and business minded environmentalist) argue that Carbon Offsetting is also useful as a costing method. Which is to say, if you have to pay more for it, economics will catalyze behavioral change. Others argue that using carbon as a costing method at the corporate level makes it easier to transition to paying for larger scale capital improvements.

That said, many scientists and environmental activists are strongly opposed to Carbon Offsets as it does not create real behavioral change. Rather, it allows us to assuage our guilty feelings and continue our destructive consumer behavior. Or, as Kevin Smith has posited, "Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins." Read more at


Tree Data

An average number is 1 ton CO2/tree/40yrs. In the tropics these can go much higher, but if you planted something on poor soil in up-state New York, which is these numbers come from, then you peak at about ~1000kg or 1 ton/tree over 60 years. Additionally, one survives out of every three trees planted. This data is from Black Rock Forest in NY from an expert at Columbia on carbon sequestration. This is fairly low since the tropics are much more efficient at carbon storage with higher rates and totals.

1 Ton = 1000 kgs = 2200 lbs 2200 lbs / 40 years = 55 lbs CO2/year


Average annual emissions per car/truck (USA)


based on 12500 miles per year and 21.5mpg (cars) and 14000 miles per year and 17.2mpg (trucks)

consuming 581 gallons Gasoline produces 12140 lbs CO2e:

  • 77lbs Hydrocarbons
  • 575lbs Carbon Monoxide
  • 38.2lbs Nitrogen
  • 11450 lbs Carbon Dioxide

12140 lbs / 12500 miles = .971 lbs CO2e/mi


Bus Data

Source: 2.7 liters of Diesel / 100 km 1 liter of Diesel = 10.52 kWh => 0.284 kWh / km 0.284 kWh / km with average conversion factor of 0.2kg CO2/kWh = 0.071 kg CO2/km 0.071 kg CO2/km * 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = .0548 CO2/mile/person

Rounded for significant digits: 0.05lbs CO2/mile/person


Train Data


For every 100 passenger-km at 30% load a train traveling 200km per hour emits 6020gms of CO2: 6020 grams are being emitted per 100 passenger for every km

6020g / 1000g/kg / 100 passengers = 0.0602 kg/passenger/km

0.0602 kg/passenger/km * 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = 0.0824 lbs CO2/passenger/mile


2.2 liters Petrol used / 100 km on average in Germany

1 liter of Petrol = 8.9 kWh => 0.2 kWh / km

they use average conversion factor to CO2 of average 0.2kg CO2/kWh = 0.04kgCO2/km

0.04kgCO2/km* 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = .0972 lbs CO2/mile/person


  • Rail - normal suburban
    • around 50-150 miles per gallon per passenger (18 - 52 kpl)
    • (about 130 - 145 grams CO2 per kilometre)
  • Rail - high speed, few stops
    • around 40-80 miles per gallon per passenger (14 - 28 kpl)
    • (about 165 - 180 grams CO2 per kilometre)

since there are two values here we will take the average.

( 130g/passenger/km + 60g/passenger/km ) / 2 / 1000g/kg = .095kg CO2/passenger/km

.095kg/passenger/km * 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = 0.130 lbs/passenger/mile


Resurgence uses a factor of .1kg CO2 /km / person for both train and buses

.095kg/passenger/km * 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = 0.1364 lbs lbs/passenger/mile

Source: (often used by carbon calculators for numbers) uses a factor of .1kg CO2 /km / person

.095kg/passenger/km * 0.621371192 miles/km * 2.204 lbs/kg = 0.1364 lbs lbs/passenger/mile

The average of these four factors is

(0.0972 + 0.0824 + 0.130 + 0.1364 + 0.1364)/5 = .11648 ~= .12 lbs lbs/passenger/mile


Shipping Data

Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.