Tag: environment

The wild green yonder

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 | All Things, Travel

George Washington Bridge

We drove up into the Poconos Mountains this semi-stormy Sunday, to the area around Lake Wallenpaupack. Just two hours from the city, there were rafters of wild turkey and herd of deer milling about, most of whom seemed more curious than timid of our wanderings through their woods.

Indian Rocks

Wild turkeys


Indian Rocks

On the Delta website to purchase a flight out to Seattle, I noticed an option to add $5.50 to my ticket price for a compensatory tree-planting program to offset carbon emissions.

To help protect the special places that Delta flies throughout the world, Delta’s Force for Global Good has partnered with The Conservation Fund to plant trees that will help offset carbon emissions… Contributions of $5.50 for a domestic roundtrip flight and $11 for an international roundtrip flight will be used by The Conservation Fund to plant trees throughout the U.S. and abroad.

No real information was available about how the offset would be calculated, other than to note that “The Conservation Fund uses standards and procedures set forth by Greenhouse Gas Protocol to estimate carbon offset amounts.”

In an October 2006 article for The Guardian, British environmentalist and writer George Monbiot compared carbon offsets to the medieval practice of purchasing indulgences from the Catholic Church. Though the analogy is imperfect as it somewhat misrepresents the conceptĀ of indulgences, Monbiot suggested that carbon offsets offer an easy excuse for individuals not to modify their bad practices with regard to pollution.

I don’t know how I feel about this concept of expiating one’s “environmental sins” — and yes, they are sins now — through financial contributions to some temporal authority, even one as seemingly worthy as The Conservation Fund. Quite clearly, simply using carbon offsets to justify a more carbon-intensive lifestyle will not result in overall carbon-emission reductions; it’s rather more important to live conscientiously, actively reducing the amount of waste and carbon we produce on a daily basis. As a New Yorker, I’ve already got a head start.

Related: City Council Approves Congestion Pricing, 30-20. Onward to Albany!

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