Travelling the world usually entails a flight somewhere even if you use public transport a lot for local areas or even across borders. I am conscious of the amount of jet-fuel used and carbon dioxide that is emited and consider what I can do for planet Earth to restore some of the damage we have done and continue to do.
Paul Hawkins in his highly researched book ‘DrawDown’ rates airplane travel as number 43 solution to address to draw down carbon. The 20,000 airplanes in service emit 2.5% of world emissions and this is predicted to rise. Fuel efficiency will have to rise if we want to reduce emissions. NASA has designed a more efficient jet carrier plane and although energy for jets is reported to be the hardest transport to convert to a renewable source scientist are working on a biofuel from algae. http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/transport/airplanes
Some people decide not to travel by plane and I admire those intrepid travellers using camels and ocean yachts. I watched a short video of Taj Burrows, World Title holder – surfing, speaking out about the dangers of fracking and a person criticised him for all the travel he does to surf around the world. I encountered a person in my group of the Pachamama Alliances Game Changer course who criticised those who travel, and said she wouldn’t travel to the Amazon because of the fuel it would use. Points taken, but I prefer a more positive solution. For those of us who are not travelling sustainably we can off set our miles.
Airlines have been offering this option at the purchase point of the ticket but I always wonder if it really goes to any worth while use. Many off-sets go towards mono-species plantations. I was dismayed to see that many forest reserves in Ecuador were actually mono-species plantations. These do sequester carbon but are limited in other benefits, especially depleting the soil and organisms that are alive and run communication networks in natural forests.
Referring again to Paul Hawkins book and web site “Drawdown”, afforestation – planting forests where there weren’t any before, for example on mining sites or degraded agricultural land comes in as solution #15. Current practices are controversial as many are mono-species plantations purely for profit. Different methods of afforestation have been designed that encourage bio diversity by using native species. Food, wood and medicines can still be gathered from them however, in a way that doesn’t undo all the good when the trees are harvested.
In comparison stopping the deforestation of tropical rain forests and re-foresting them rates highly as a solution to drawing down carbon. It is placed at number 5. Paul’s research found that in theory 751 million acres of degraded tropical forest could be restored. However, their calculations suggest that reaforestaion could occur on 435 million acres, some natural regrowth by stopping destruction from agriculture, mining and plantation crops, and other actions such as deliberate planting of seeds and trees, could sequester 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per acre annually. As a forest system regenerates it becomes a thriving inter-related web or ecosystem that fosters inter-dependent species from the micro-organisms in soil that send messages via fungi on roots and support the needs of plants, to the massive trees with deep roots that hold soil together to avoid erosion, control water flow (transpiration – under, within and above the soiled affecting rain fall) and provides animals including man with a ‘life-giving habitiat’. http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/land-use/tropical-forests
I have considered the acres of re-forestation (erosion control, biodiversity, wildlife corridor) I did on a property in an arid coastal area of South Australia as covering some of my debt but I feel I should do more.
I visited the tropical forest areas of Amazonian Ecuador and have been living in coastal rain forest in Costa Rica for five months. I am revitalised by it and will find it hard to leave at the end of the month. But the time has come to leave. To get home will take about 24 hours of flight time (39 in travel time with airport lay over times). I am only one passenger on the large jets but I am still contributing to the fuel use and carbon dioxide emission .
For many other reasons, such as my love for nature, but also a solution, was to become a TreeSister and donate regularly each month so that the organisation can support local people in tropical areas to reforest areas that have been depleted. The organisation’s actions address at least two very high ranking “Drawdown” solutions; 1. Reforestation of tropical forest #5 solution and 2. Women smallholders (ranks as number 62) TreeSisters works with Indigenous women partners to plant the forests and empowers and educates them at the same time. Educating girls rates as solution number 6.
TreeSisters results are amazing with the target of a million trees in a year being reached. The trees are being planted in tropical zones such as in Madagascar where mangrove trees were planted and are tended to by Madagascan women. Now, Clare Dubois and her team have set a target for a billion trees. It is a bold and much needed target, and they expect it will take longer than a year. The Amazon is an area in need of preservation from mining, agriculture and damming. Indigenous Chief, Almir Surui, (Brazil) has had to leave Brazil due to a bounty on his head as he is an active promoter of all tribes in the Amazon saying no to gold, oil and timber extraction and yes to reforestation of their areas. Due diligence is being done to see if TreeSisters; women seeding change can partner with them and their efforts to reforest areas of the Amazon.
If, like me, you would love to see this happen I invite you to visit TreeSisters Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/treesisters
click what you like (the whole page?) and check out the invite to The Call to Dream Ceremony. This invite is much more than asking for likes and money. The aim is to help people change their perceptions and move from a consumer species to a restorer species. https://www.facebook.com/events/121261045295181/
2 thoughts on “Top tip for Global Nomads to offset carbon miles ”
Thank you for this insight. I used to work as a travel writer but found myself increasingly depressed over the state of the world –particularly global/environmental issues.
As I attempt to rewire and nurture my mood i’ll be implementing these tools ❤
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Thank you Nicholas.
So many people are feeling despair, depression and anger at the apparent change of many governments worldwide to increasing ecocide, totally moving in the opposite direction our planet needs. Our individual actions can seem insignificant. Although I would get some solace from action, I have found being supported in a group (TreeSisters) really helpful. Based in feminine energy the organisation welcomes all genders.
I have a lot to communicate and feel I will be able to follow my passion and write this year. Your comment and like has added to my motivation. Again thank you.