Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ecologically Big Feet & Carbon Offsets

By now we all know about the catastrophic consequences of our fossil-fueled habits. I, like many, try to minimize my ecological footprint, but it's a really Big Foot to begin with. Since carbon is not [as yet] taxed, many of our activities are artificially inexpensive. Purchasing carbon offsets is a way of self-taxing carbons emission we cannot avoid.
Like I said about tipping - if I can afford a nice dinner, I can afford a generous tip; if I can afford to jet all over the world, I can afford offsets.
My favorite place to purchase offsets is Trees for the Future. This wonderful organization based in Washington, DC, has planted gazillions of trees which in addition to their environmental benefits provide income generation for impoverished communities in the developing world. One of the trees they plant, the jatropha, produces oily seeds which can be refined into bio-fuel, replacing expensive imported oil. Unlike many of the carbon offset options, TFT is a not-for-profit, so in addition to doing right by the planet, contributions are tax deductible. And the trees are very modestly priced. To offset your mileage, figure $.10 a tree per 100 miles, so a bi-coastal trip is really just a $5.00 self-tax. They send fantastic gift certificates. When my uncle turned 90, we planted 900 trees for $90! That was because I misheard the number. I thought I was planting 90 trees! What a great gift.

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