Michelle has returned home from her week-long trip to South Africa and Botswana—a visit focused on “youth leadership, education, health and wellness.” Mrs. Obama was accompanied on her travels by her two daughters, her mother, a niece and nephew (and a group of support and security staff).
While global warming is a significant concern of her husband, Michelle’s interests lie more towards promoting education, healthiness, and nutrition. And as such, the carbon dioxide released by the approximately 18,000 flight miles logged during her trip probably contributed more to her causes, than to his. Here is why.
In the table below, I step through the calculations that I use to derive the carbon footprint of Michelle's trip using the itinerary as posted by the White House, and assuming that she flew aboard a military C-32A aircraft (the typical plane that would be used to transport the First Lady on an international flight).
Total miles on military C-32 aircraft: 18,000 miles
Fuel use of a military C-32 aircraft: 0.4 miles/gallon
Total consumption of jet fuel: 45,000 gallons
Carbon dioxide emissions per gallon of jet fuel burned: 21.1 lbs/gallon
Total CO2 emissions of the trip: 949,500 lbs CO2
Average Annual Per Capita CO2 Emissions in U.S.: 43,560 lbs CO2