The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 10, 2008

How Do I Say “Carbon Offsets” in French?

Filed under: Culture — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 2:46 pm

If you’re an environmentalist these days, it probably doesn’t take a whole lot to convince you that the planet is headed for some form of unspecified generic Eschaton in a pollutant spewing hydrocarbon handbasket.  Sure, you might be living in an Earth-friendly yurt made out of recycled fair trade organic hemp and biking 150 miles a day to work and back, but what about all those other people who have the audacity to actually enjoy the conveniences of modern society?  There has to be some way to convince them to see the error of their ways, but since the last street corner protest ended with a trip to jail on an indecent exposure charge, some other approach is going to be needed. 

The good news for local commuters is that in an effort to get people out of their single-occupant vehicles and into other more Earth-friendly forms of transportation, the Washington State Rideshare Organization has begun offering a number of prizes for people who use alternative forms of transportation to commute.  On the other hand, the grand prize in this contest isn’t  exactly what I’d call Earth-friendly:

That’s right, you can help save the Earth and reduce your carbon footprint by getting out of your car for a couple of days (to enter the contest requires using some alternative to commuting in a single-occupant vehicle just twice during the contest period,) only to drastically increase your personal carbon footprint by flying more than 10,000 miles (roughly 5,000 miles in each direction) from Seattle to Paris on a CO2-spewing jet plane.  For that matter, just how many people would have to participate in something like this for the resulting reduction in carbon output to not be completely obliterated by the 3.7 tons of CO2 (according to the calculator on this site) generated by the round trip to Paris?  For comparison, that site estimates my car’s annual CO2 output to be just a little bit less than 5 (4.954)tons.  Based on an estimate that I will drive my relatively average (on fuel efficiency) car somewhere around 13,000 miles this year to generate those 5 tons of CO2, offsetting the carbon generated by the trip to Paris would require this program to result in about 9,650 miles less driving by people in order to break even on the flight.  That’s not even counting any carbon-generating activities that might occur during the 7-day trip, nor does it include any of the other prizes in the contest (which include a TV/DVD player combo, a couple of shorter weekend trips within Washington, and a number of various gift cards.) 

Although I tend to be skeptical about much of the current global warming hysteria going on, and I don’t doubt that there will be enough participation in the program to cover those 9,650 miles, I suspect that the trip is probably going to end up negating the majority of whatever benefit this program might have for the environment. 


1 Comment »

  1. You can get free carbon offsets here:

    Comment by Karbon Kenny — March 20, 2008 @ 6:40 am

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