Environmental Atonement for my travels (part one)

Travel, general speaking, is bad for the environment. Until a year or so ago, I didn't realize that air travel was among the worst forms of transportation for the environment. (The all-knowing David Suzuki has a great explanation of why here.) Throughout my trip, I was thinking about what I could do to atone for this. Carbon offsetting was something I knew something about, so I promised myself I would environmentally redeem myself, or at least make an attempt, when I got back.

First step in my quest for atonement was to assess the damage. A quick calculation of the miles traveled by plane came out to around 20,000 miles. This figure alone hit me pretty good, as it is approximately equal to 4 round trip flights from Seattle to NYC. To equate that to environmental damage, I chose carbon dioxide production as a measure. Various "calculate your impact" websites gave total carbon production from just me from 7,500 kg to 10,800 kg.

Step two is to find a way to offset said carbon. The sites that help calculate are quick to offer an easy way to offset the impact of your flights. Each does it a little differently, but the general idea is that they use the money you give them to support clean energy projects, which conceptually takes carbon out of the atmosphere. The prices for this ranges from $13/tonne(1,000kg) to $27/tonne putting the environmental cost of my flights between $100 and $300.

This investigation into my impact and what I can do to offset it has been very enlightening, but I hestitate to drop a couple hundred bucks on such an abstract solution. As the title of this post implies, this is to be an on going project. My next focus will be alternative methods for offsetting carbon. Stay tuned!
Tuesday January 2 2007File under: travel, environment

Toggle Comments (5)comment?
on Wed 03rd Jan, 2007 06:08 am UTC Mom said:
Back in the early 60's when we had put too many miles on our parents borrowed car (thereby letting them know we had gone farther than just the library) we would drive around the country roads backwards! This would roll back the odometer and nobody would be the wiser. Would something like that work here? Just asking.
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on Wed 03rd Jan, 2007 01:20 pm UTC Andrew said:
Bueller!
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on Wed 31st Jan, 2007 06:51 am UTC Bus Chick said:
I've been planning to write about this for some time. As much as I love to see the world, I tend to limit travel because there doesn't seem to be an environmentally sound, time-efficient way to do it. Most travel websites now allow you to pay a recommended amount (based on the calculated impact of your trip) when you buy your ticket. My husband and I did that for our upcoming trip to Detroit, and I guess it's better than nothing, but it doesn't really seem like enough. I hate to wipe out all my car-free carbon savings with one visit to the in-laws. :(
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on Mon 12th Feb, 2007 01:54 am UTC amanda said:
you hesitate to drop a couple hundred on carbon offsets? how much did you pay for your trip? i highly recommend doing the offsets, i have and i can't say i regret it
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on Sun 25th Feb, 2007 05:34 pm PST Wren said:
Here is an interesting counterpoint.
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