You've probably heard these guilt-inducing buzzwords by now: carbon footprint and carbon offset. 'What is this miraculous means by which I can reduce my personal assault on Planet Earth?' you might be thinking. 'Can I actually offset all the carbon dioxide emissions I'm responsible for?' you're saying to yourself. Well, it's actually pretty easy and affordable. Take me to your carbon offset leader!
A carbon offset is something you buy. It's a voluntary investment in an activity that leads to the reduction of Earth-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. You can choose to spend anywhere from $5 to $5 million on offsets, and the project benefitting from your donation is usually up to you.
The most popular types of carbon offsets are those that plant trees (reforestation), support activities that help us use less fossil-fueled power (energy efficiency, conservation), or invest in power systems that don't rely on our dwindling fossil fuel supplies (renewable energy). Some offset programs also invest in technologies that help prevent methane ? another potent nasty that heats up our lives ? from entering the atmosphere (methane capture).
The following organizations sell carbon offsets directly to consumers, and feature handy carbon calculators to help you determine your environmental footprint. All are certified by an independent agency that makes sure your dollars go where they should. (Learn more about the green-e certification program.)
And here are a couple of other innovative ways to rack up carbon offsets:
Carbon offsets have proved somewhat controversial to hard-core greenies. The idea of buying global warming indulgences just doesn't sit well with those who advocate lifestyle changes as the answer to our climate catastrophe. But others argue that they are an easy way for people to make a difference and help drive market demand for green power and other industries that are working to stem the tide of climate change before it's too late. What do you think? Are you enlightened? Get on your soapbox, vent, opine, or just contribute rational thoughts to a positive dialogue by using the comments section link to comment area below.
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