My friends and I like to travel. And yet, we also like to reduce our footprint on the environment. And really, the two things are so contradictory. Every time we step onto an airplane, we are doing inestimable damage to the environment. What to do?
Back in May Air Canada announced a carbon off-set program called Zerofootprint. The program has a website where you can submit your flight information, and using information it has on record for Air Canada’s planes, it calculates how much it would cost to plant trees to off-set your carbon usage: Zerofootprint calculator. Now when you book a flight, an option pops up to go to this web page and make a contribution toward tree planting.
Does it really work? Is this sufficient for actually off-setting the carbon we are using and damage we are doing to the environment, not just easing our guilt? I spoke with another friend of mine who is probably the smartest environmentalist I know. Her take is that planting trees is helpful, but it is not an immediate solution. By the time the trees grow and are able to off-set all that carbon, our planet may be too far-gone for it to be helpful. Should I therefore not take part in this program, I asked her. Her reply was that it is a start, and it is better to take part than not. It is better by far, however, to re-think flights. For short distances such as between Toronto and Ottawa or Toronto and Montreal, train would be a better way to go.
So, I wonder if I will be able to limit myself on flights (one a year?). I certainly like the train as an option, and wonder how I might use this option more often.
October 15, 2007 is Blog Action Day.