Flight attendant association warns climate change is increasing dangerous air turbulence

The leader of a union representing 50,000 flight attendants warned in a column for Vox on Thursday that climate change is increasing in-flight turbulence.

In the column, Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson notes that turbulence is caused by air currents shifting, and the most dangerous form, the virtually undetectable clear air turbulence, is projected to more than double by the middle of the 21st century, reaching strengths that could “catapult unbuckled passengers and crew around the aircraft cabin.”

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Turbulence costs airlines in the U.S. $200 million a year, according to Nelson, and is only part of the fallout climate change is causing in air travel.

An increase in extreme weather events means more flights will be grounded, costing flight attendants in particular, as they are paid hourly for time in the air. Extreme cold in January caused the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights, while excessive heat over the past two summers has led to flight cancellations in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, according to Nelson.

Aviation unions are taking steps to reduce contributions to climate change, Nelson writes, with the International Civil Aviation Organization adopting a resolution in 2016 to align the industry with the Paris climate accord’s goals. She also calls on the federal government to take further action, touting the Green New Deal resolution spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Warren, Ocasio-Cortez press Mnuchin on role in Sears bankruptcy MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump MORE (D-Mass.).

However, she writes, “opponents of meaningful action” have exploited workers’ anxieties to spin solutions to climate change as harmful to their jobs.

“Climate change is happening now. We need to get serious about it. Aspiring to achieve a green economy with good union jobs that leave no one behind is exactly the solution we need to fight climate change and provide opportunity for all Americans,” she writes. “As we do this together, remember too: You should really listen when your flight attendant tells you to keep your seatbelt fastened.”

The Association of Flight Attendants may have played a role in ending the 2019 government shutdown, when Nelson called for a general strike among the union’s members. President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE signed a bill reopening the government hours later.