Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Belated Earth Day Acknowledgment

Somehow, I missed Earth Day this past weekend. Oh, I read some posts about it but thought it would be next Sunday not last Sunday. Colour me distracted for some strange Smudge of a reason.

Anyway, in an effort to redeem my little oversight, I bought Mother Earth a very small present today. Yes, I did. I went to Offsetters and purchased just that — carbon offsets for our impending trip to Vancouver. Apparently, thirty dollars will purchase enough offsets to pay back the carbon that will be used by Cuppa and me when we fly out west in June. The idea of carbon offsets is to support projects that will help to save a similar amount of carbon usage elsewhere so that one's flight becomes carbon neutral. Of course, if you wish, you could purchase enough offsets to make your whole life carbon neutral — theoretically, at least. I don't think I'm ready to go that far, but it feels right to me to spend a trifle more on top of the bundle that I'll be spending on our rather major vacation, it being, by definition, frivolous and discretionary after all

Offsetters has a flight calculator to tell you how much carbon your trip will consume and how much money it would cost to purchase the appropriate amount of offsets to supposedly render your trip carbon neutral. Whether the calculator or the whole concept for that matter is right or wrong, I don't know for sure, but the program is supported by Westjet, the airline with which we will fly, so I have some faith. Sometimes, you have to have a little faith. Sometimes, you have to make an effort to do something, no matter how insignificant it seems. Air travel expends an awful lot of carbon, and since, to repeat myself, it's mostly frivolous or discretionary spending, it feels right and good to me to make an effort.

This whole discussion about Climate Change is not new to me. Although it may seem faddish to some, environmental issues became part of our topics of examination twenty years ago when geography teachers introduced a course called World Issues. The thrust of the course was to examine certain current topics of concern and not just environmental issues. We would study concerns, such as Population Growth, for example, from various points of view and from there try to determine where we stood, whether there was a problem or not.

Most issues, such as population growth, were multi-faceted, but I could never find too much to suggest that climate change wasn't occurring or that it was a good thing. Even twenty years ago, a scientific consensus was emerging. The evidence was and is that, overall, the climate is warming and that it is the result of human activities. Graphs and statistics depict a commensurate rise in temperatures and carbon emissions in the past several hundred years.

Oh yes, on an unseasonably cold day, silly people will shake their heads giggle about global warming. But, of course, warming is only a part of it, and that's why we are now tending to refer to the phenomenon as climate change rather than global warming. As the atmosphere continues to change, there will be erratic weather and climatic surprises and not just constant heat. Even twenty years ago, scientists were predicting more climatic disasters such as hurricanes and famines and so on. The evidence since then informs us that they were spot on.

It's sad that it's taken twenty years for the issue to take hold, but I find it even sadder that there are those who still refuse to take it seriously. A few of the devout (not all or even most, let be hasten to add), for example, seem to think that if God is in control we really shouldn't fuss and worry. Probably these same people don't leave other problems with the divine while they do nothing, however. They give to the poor, for example, and seek medical intervention when they're sick. Well, our beautiful planet is feeling a little queasy these days, and it's up to all of us to do just a little bit to help her out. I don't suppose that the buying of carbon offsets will ever be a huge part of the solution, but, although I'm a few days late, at least I've done something for Earth Day, and it's not such a terrible feeling.


Cathy said...

I've watched Springs get so weird here. They come late and vanish too soon into summer. When I started to bird 20 years ago there were many more birds and you could 'see' them. Now when they arrive in the woodlots on the edge of Lake Eire - the foliage is so far along it's difficult to see them. Worrisome.

Gina said...

I just met a woman (a fellow preschool mother) who doesn't believe in climate change, and I seriously wondered to myself if I could be friends with her. I'm being silly, I know, but it just astounds me.

I wonder all the time how we got stuck with Dubya at this most crucial time.

Bonita said...

I must be the only one who doesn't know what carbon offsets are...while flying do you breathe into a bag? Well, regardless, I hope you have a wonderful trip to Vancouver. It is a most beautiful city! Ah, and the fish and chips are out of this world.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

I'm not tricked. I know you were just trying to make us think you could write about something besides the grand girl.

Like most of us, you have realized that we might have failed to care for the place our grands have to live in a proper manner. Humans can be poor care takers.

Good on you for doing something about it. Welcome to the recycle, reuse, protect the planet club.

Pam said...

Bravo for doing your share. Even though we have our nay sayers, and although many are late in their response to our planets troubles, I have noticed a change in attitude around the globe. We need big steps, but little ones are better than none.

Heather said...

We've been talking about developing an carbon offset policy at work too. Working in international development makes the whole issue of climate change seem that much more urgent, because it is the people in developing countries that are the most impacted by the change. I saw evidence of it in Ethiopia where drought is occuring more frequently than it used to.

judie said...

Wonderful post you made about global warming. Those who don't believe it is happening have no clue what life is truly about. Just feel sadness for them, for there is nothing you can do for them. I'm happy to read you tried to do your part, but I have to admit I haven't a clue what carbon offsetters are, even tho I understand the phrase. I went to the site, but was not inclined to read all that stuff right this minute. Perhaps later. I linked here from Pebbles. Nice to meet you.

Laurie said...

It's not like you didn't have other things on your mind, AC. Congratulations on the beautiful grandbaby.