flight credits, carbon offsets

Considering how much I fly, this is both interesting and scary. Does anyone know anything about these programs? Legit? Can anything designed to ease your conscience possibly be this easy? Does it matter? Should I pay the $100 US or so that they estimate carbon offsets for my trips this year will cost? Is this sort of thing a good idea over the long-haul?

I don’t drive much, or consume much; I live in a house that’s bigger than I strictly need but it’s not outrageous. By far my most egregious contribution to global warming is my flying habit, and I really don’t want to give it up.

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4 Responses to flight credits, carbon offsets

  1. kenllama says:

    i have mixed feelings about carbon offsets. for the moment i come down on the side that they are better than not having them.

    they strike me as a very Western (and i mean that in the most perjorative sense possible…) band-aid style approach to dealing with a problem: let’s not fix the source of our problem (like coming up with less polluting forms of travel or choosing to travel less), instead we can buy off our consciences with this clever mathematical formula.

    so despite those misgivings, here’s why i believe in their value (for now): every time we buy carbon offsets, it helps to fund alternative energy projects and develop systems that will produce a net change in our carbon emissions. so it’s at least guilty-money with a purpose aimed at supporting systemic change. also, i do everything al gore tells me too.

    my big vice is not the airplane, but the automobile, and that’s a bad one too. and, to be perfectly honest: while i believe in carbon offsets, i’ve not bought any yet. i did the initial calculations last summer (about $100/yr), but i haven’t felt like i could afford it. i know, i know, maybe we can’t afford not too. i *have* been working on driving less and carpooling more, but i’m still a big petro fiend.

  2. anonymous says:

    Hey, I saw that you had mentioned offsets and I wanted to let you know that there is a new report published this last week on the offsets industry, The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins. Free download from http://www.tni.org

    Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins. Scratch the surface, however, and a disturbing picture emerges, where creative accountancy and elaborate shell games cover up the impossibility of verifying genuine climate change benefits, and where communities in the South often have little choice as offset projects are inflicted on them.

    This report argues that offsets place disproportionate emphasis on individual lifestyles and carbon footprints, distracting attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken to tackle climate change. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches involves moving away from the marketing gimmicks, celebrity endorsements, technological quick fixes, and the North/South exploitation that the carbon offsets industry embodies.

  3. joshuadf says:

    From http://offsetters.ca/contact.htm :

    Thus, in calculating emissions for a passage on long haul flight we take the average fuel burn figures for a Boeing 747 and an Airbus A360 as published by the EU. We divide this by the average number of seats (not occupied seats). We then subtract fuel use for freight carried on the average long haul aircraft. GHG impacts in the upper atmosphere are estimated to be double the amount of CO2 emissions. We double the fuel CO2 and finally multiply this GHG emission rates by the great-circle distance between departure and arrival airports.

    In other words, it’s a wild guess. I’d give some money to your favorite charity or something instead.

  4. brassratgirl says:

    Awesome! Environmentalist spam! I love it.

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