(Holiday card that was rejected by a client. I just can’t get enough of shine theory.)
To offset or noffset, that is the question? Some say offsets only perpetuate a high-carbon lifestyle and are nothing more than a modern form of indulgences. This newsletter and the frowsy-haired person behind it believe in small actions that reify personal belief and accountability, so you know where we’ll come down on paying a premium for personal pollution.
I don’t need to fly very much but I can’t go more than a year without seeing my Europe-dwelling niece and nephew, Petunia and Bam Bam. If they are within 3,000 kilometres, I will travel to meet them. When people complain that not flying precludes them from seeing their family and making personal and professional connections with the world, I get it. It’s not our fault that life now requires moving across the globe for work, refuge, and Furry conventions. It’s not our fault that some evil genius figured out how to combine the words destination and wedding. But it is what it is. And our rapidly closing porthole of catastrophe-prevention doesn’t care that the modern condition has deposited friends and family across the globe. We just have to do our best to fly less. And not beat ourselves up when we do travel to that once-in-a-lifetime family reunion in Guam.
But despite my efforts to not make others feel guilty, and to not feel guilty myself, my upcoming flights are making me feel just that. So I offset. It doesn’t mean my carbon-emitting choices are negated. It doesn’t Get-out-of-jail-free my guilt. It does make me acknowledge the moment, and calculate what I’m doing to the planet as a human living life on earth right now. It makes me conscious of the nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon it takes to ferry a family up and down the Eastern seaboard. Our trip to Florida is roughly half our yearly home heating carbon budget, despite my best efforts to put a sweater on it. You can take the girl out of Florida but...
The Better Offsetter
Carbon offsets used to get a bad rap, but have improved significantly over the past decade.
The Gold Standard guarantees a minimum level of management and efficacy. There are so many options, but I chose Less for our upcoming trip home to Florida, mostly because my super genius buddy, Andy, recommended it. Send me your favourite offsetters, please!
In Good Company
I cheer for large companies purchasing offsets because, at the very least, they are acknowledging the harmful effects of their own industry, and making a modest effort towards mitigation. Yes, there’s greenwashing inherent to offsets, but if Stevie and his bros are taking that flight to Majorca for the bachelor party anyways, better a well in Uganda than no well in Uganda.
Less is More
There’s lots of research that doing something less makes us appreciate it more. Savour it, says my niece Petunia. “When people cut back on something they enjoy, they are more inclined to savor it,” write happiness researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Jiaying Zhao. Our kids know that we plan to go to Europe every 6 years, which in their eyes is approximately once in a lifetime. But looking forward to a less frequent epic adventure is an opportunity to savour. And the fewer plane farts, the better. (Of course I had to. My son is literally walking in circles around me saying, ‘fart fart fart.’)
Do you offset? Do you fly? Do you magic carpet? Do you have travel rules? LMK PLS.
This and that
If you only listen to one podcast about decarbonisation in your lifetime, make it this one:
• Ezra Klein talks to the super smart and supremely sensible Saul Griffiths about what it will take to decarbonise. Spoiler alert: It will take everything we’ve got -- but the result will be a far better world for all of us. The podcast is framed around a blog post of Griffiths’ that got a lot of traction. It’s great, but it’s also...long. So just listen to the 76-minute interview to get all the good stuff, delivered cheerfully and wittily in a gentle Aussie brogue.
• I did a podcast with the lovely Jen Gale, whose book, Sustainable(ish) is out now. I just got my copy of her book, and so far so great(ish).
• Good piece by my friend, Vanessa! Is Climate Art the Right-Brained Approach We Need to This Crisis?
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Have a wonderful New Year!