Saturday, May 26, 2007

Greener Than Thou

The idea of global warming as reality is strengthening its grip on the global village, with the success of "An Inconvenient Truth" as irrefutable proof that people are listening, and last winter as the definitive moment in the crusade. On February 2, 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, operating under the aegis of the United Nations, released its findings from a study that portends the future of the human race. The study confirmed what scientists, supported by hordes of data and common sense, have been telling us for years: global warming is real, and the human species is at fault.

Once a rite of passage founded in 60's beat literature, the famed cross country road trip is now the enemy of the environment; the nobility of travel trumped by legitimate concerns for the environment. Amidst this sea of media induced guilt tripping is me, leaving in two weeks on one of the largest roadtrips of my life. In an SUV. Damnit, I may as well club a few seals while I'm at it.

What is a 21st century sap looking for a little adventure to do?

According to an article in, oh, every major news publication from the last six months, the latest trend in eco-conciousness is the idea of carbon offsetting. Corporations and individuals alike have carbon footprints - the amount of carbon dioxide they directly release into the environment, or that to which they indirectly contribute. The use of air conditioning, flying to Europe, driving a car across America; they all contribute to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. There are also several aspects of our lives that indirectly contribute to global warming, such as buying non local food, as it needs to be trucked in from outside sources. There's that pesky 'automobile factor' again, the one I won't be able to avoid this summer.

Or will I?

Carbon offsetting is the new practice of paying a company to offset the amount of carbon dioxide for which a business or individual is responsible. Several companies, such as, whose slogan is "Reduce what you can, offset what you can't," have sprung up to meet the demand of an increasingly eco-conscious public. These companies allow you to calculate your annual footprint, and then pay them to offset this footprint, typically by planting trees somewhere to absorb the increased CO2. The good news is that even if I drive as many as 10,000 miles this summer, the cost of offsetting the trip is only $28.70.

But is it worth it?

While proponents argue that it brings awareness to the average citizen, allowing them to do their own small part, opponents argue that it is simply throwing money at the problem. People will be encouraged to be as wasteful as they want but feel it is ok because they are paying someone else to clean it up for them.

There is no snappy conclusion to this entry, just a mild concern that I thought was worth addressing. While I would like to be a responsible citizen of the world, I don't want to give up this trip. What do YOU think I should do?


Mike said...

About global warming: If you can't solve the problem, the best thing you can do is put it out of your mind. Have fun on your road trip.

-Mike S.

The Chef said...

These are the end times Scott.


Drive like the wind and don't even think twice or ever, ever turn back.

But Scott... take a lesson from our very own Govenor of this great Garden State we call home...

Wear your damn seatbelt.

And EQUALLY as important... have fun.

valerie said...

you should just forget the entire trip, seeing as it will be such a burden to the environment. geez scott.
(as I sit here in a hotel room in Colorado after driving across the country..)

Scotticus said...

Haha, thanks guys. I'm pretty good about wearing my seatbelt and don't worry, there was never any real chance I would cancel the trip anyway. I just thought the issue was an important one to at least bring up, even if I do nothing about it. They say knowing is half the battle, afterall...

Kelli said...

Thanks for swinging by my site - and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed In a Sunburned Country as much as I hope to!

I'm glad you left a I can travel across the country vicariously through you!
Have a great trip!