This August, Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic in a zero-emission sailboat to protest the high carbon footprint of plane travel. But there’s good reason to think she may someday travel to climate protests via airship — the same giant aircraft, buoyed by gas-filled balloons, that were popular in the early 20th century. Faster than cargo ships and able to alight inland as well as on a beach, many airships, also known as dirigibles, have fewer emissions than boats, and all are much more carbon efficient than planes.
Planes and helicopters rely on direct lift, which is powered by burning fossil fuels, while buoyant lift relies on the natural properties of gases like hydrogen and helium, which are lighter than air and don’t need to be burned.
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