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Air Travel Carbon Offsets
I've been paying a bit of attention to carbon emissions this year, in part thanks to postings like this one from lizardprincess. The evidence of human-caused global warming is becoming overwhelming, and I'm afraid that I contribute to a bit of that activity through my air travel.

This morning, I was looking over the web to figure out how many tons of CO2 my flights (and the rest of my life) produce. I can't do a lot to reduce the amount of flying I do with my current job, but at least I can help pay for clean energy production that would offset those emissions by reducing emissions from other sources.

My first problem is actually doing the calculation. I used three different sites and get very different answers about how many tons of CO2 emissions would need to be offset. Native Energy has two different calculators on their site. On the "Offset your Travel" calculator, my airplane trips are producing about 10.2 tons. However, if you go to their Safe Climate calculator, it estimates that my travel emits about 31 tons a year. I expect some differences, but an order of three difference in the estimates seems suspect. Fortunately, the other calculators I saw seemed to agree with the 10 ton figure. I was helped by most of my flights being long-haul Austin-to-San Jose trips, rather than shorter trips like hops to Dallas or Houston.

Now that I have an idea of the carbon emissions from my travel, the next step is to figure out how to offset those emissions. Earlier this year, I bought a TerraPass sticker for my Saturn to offset its emissions. NativeEnergy sells memberships at levels to offset a certain number of tons, and their pricing is around $12/ton offset., the provider chosen by Working Assets, is pricing their offsets around $10/ton. They both seem to be good programs, and it looks like it would be between $100-$140 for me to offset the emissions for my air travel. That seems like a reasonable price to pay, especially compared with the direct cost of all those trips.


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