As folks might know, I’m a bit of an eco-geek. I’ve been talking about my carbon footprint for a few years now and can remember when it might cause someone’s eyes to completely glaze over. But then we learned about An Inconvenient Truth, a new island was discovered after part of Greenland’s ice sheet melted, and Al Gore and the IPCC one the Nobel Prize. We all know that the Climate Crisis has entered the mainstream with more than a handful of websites offering to offset your carbon footprint, regular news coverage about the fate of our planet and many presidential candidates pushing major climate related plans.
All the while I’ve been tallying my carbon footprint based on my air travel, and 2007 was a big year for me. Nearly 70,000 miles covered (or about 10% shy of the circumference of earth). I traveled for business, pleasure and family, 36 legs in all and have calculated the associated carbon emissions to total about 28,400 pounds or just over 14 tons. Of course my total carbon footprint is larger and includes my household generated carbon, consumer generated carbon and automobile generated carbon emissions. On that last note, I don’t drive very much, personally don’t own a car, but do have the guilt habit of riding vintage scooters every once in a while. I bought a Terrapass earlier in the year to more than cover my girlfriend’s car (which i use sometimes) and figure it would also probably cover my scooter and motorcycle riding as well as minimal car share use (I’m a zip car and flex car member, and now they have merged!)
Last year I also bought a stand of 1000 trees through Trees For the Future. These trees should remove 25 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere for about 35 or 40 years. Unfortunately I later learned that the affect known as albedo (or absorption of solar energy by the earth) can in some respects cancel out the benefits of tree planting.
So to offset my 2007 carbon emissions (even though the trees might already be doing it for me) I’m going to buy some more offsets. Over the holiday I read about 3 reputable carbon offsetters. I’ve all but finalized my decision to go with Native Energy and buy 15 tons of offsets in the form of Renewable Energy Credits or RECs. RECs are earned by renewable energy projects and could be sold to carbon polluters over and over again. Through Native Energy though, the RECs my offsets fund will be retired by Clean Air Cool Planet. One thing that I find really cool about Native Energy is that they support distributed energy generation like wind turbines on farms and methane energy projects on farms. Both help support smaller farms which has an added environmental benefit of maintaining open space and diverse agriculture as well as support food security through this diversity.
So i figure my total carbon footprint may be over 15 tons. I buy 15 tons from Native Energy for about $180 and trust my trees to do the rest. Hopefully this coming year, I’ll be able to reduce my footprint a little through less travel.