Are Offsets a Flawed Approach to Carbon Neutrality?

Carbon Neutrality: WHAT IS IT?

First, it is new term for the Oxford dictionary.  Carbon Neutrality is described as a balance between energy expenditure (pollution) and energy conservation or enhancement.

Travelers are fast becoming conscious of their previous role in energy expenditure: from air travel, fancy large car rentals, use of fossil fuels, and the excess laundry usage (new sheets and towels daily). Eco travel is offering new practices of carbon neutral air travel (Nature Air in Costa Rica), small economy hybrid cars, reusing linen to buying carbon offsets…donations to sustainability projects, planting trees, reducing power usage (lights, air-conditioning), and being a conscious traveler with things like paying attention to hours of power usage and so forth.   The goal is to make your travel trip carbon neutral…gaining if possible, but definitely making your trip carbon neutral, that is, not using more than you are putting back.

Many travel companies are buying “green tags”, like points to offset the carbon usage of their travel trips.    While this is commendable, we feel awareness, and practices of non-carbon expenditure is a more far reaching and needed practice.  Buying our way out of excess is not the answer.  That is currently and has been the “American practice” for too many years.  That seems a more “co-dependent” or “bail-out” solution rather than a practicing solution.

What if we took fewer clothes traveling, ate more raw food, turned out lights not needed, rented eco-cars, asked our travel agents to donate money toward projects to install wind and solar power, avoided process foods, brought our own water filters instead of buying bottled water, traveled on foot, bicycles, visited only green sponsoring hotels, used our linens more than one day, planted something every place we visited, stayed on trails, recycled our garbage…practiced what we preached and wanted others to do.  Offsets may be a flawed approach to combating global warming.  We need to consciously reduce, not bargain.  Don’t fall into the illusion.  Be a real sustainable ecologist with a social conscience.

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