Take a Flight, Save a Tree
Although it hasn't been publically announced yet, Orbitz will soon join Travelocity and Expedia in offering customers the option of paying to offset their share of the CO2 emissions that their plane will spew into the air during their trip.
Skip this graph you're already clued in about carbon offset programs: Basically various groups out there have computer programs that figure out your share of the carbon output of a plane -- or bus or train or whatever. They've also supposedly figured out how much it costs to offset those emissions, and if you volunteer to pay that amount, the money goes to a nonprofit group that does something to "offset" your pollution, like planting trees or erecting a windmill to replace coal-produced electricity. The travel sites mentioned above have partnered with these nonprofits. When you buy your plane ticket you click a box saying you'd like to pay for a CO2 offset, say about $5 for a regional flight or $17 for a cross country one, for example.
If you don't believe in global warming, discussion over.
But if you do, are you willing to pay to offset part of your contribution to it?
I do happen to believe in the obvious, but am a little torn when asked if I want to pay for my plane emissions. The selfish voice in me says, "Why should I if everyone else isn't; in fact probably only a tiny majority does it." Then there's the practical voice too that says, "I really don't have time to investigate these nonprofits to see if what I give 'em is being well spent for the intended purpose."
Then again, both those voices could be quieted if the payment were an edict -- as in everyone pays, as in taxes or fees, and an auditor is assigned to police the folks who get the money. I actually think I could accept that more easily than I do the thought of checking the "yes, charge me" box.
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