I’m driving from Maryland to Massachusetts tomorrow to attend a program on yoga and climate change at Kripalu. The round trip of about 800 miles will result in about 800 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This matters to me because CO2 from burning fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming. Carbon dioxide is very stable, and once in the atmosphere, can affect the climate for thousands of years or be absorbed into ocean waters and make them more acidic.
Unless you drive an electric vehicle and your electricity is generated by a renewable source like solar or wind, every mile you drive puts more CO2 into the atmosphere. If you fly to a yoga workshop or a retreat, the CO2 emissions can be significant.
You might be surprised that burning 1 gallon of gas, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, produces almost 20 pounds of CO2. How is this possible? Gasoline is made up mainly of hydrogen (which is very light) and carbon. Carbon is 87% of the weight of the gasoline. When gasoline burns it combines with oxygen from the air, and the resulting CO2 gas weighs almost 3.7 times as much as the carbon alone.
Clearly the best way to keep CO2 from warming the Earth is to not put it into the atmosphere, so it’s good to carefully consider the need to travel and choose to travel less. But when you do choose to travel, you can support programs that reduce CO2 emissions that would otherwise occur, or that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These are called “carbon offsets.”
Carbon offsets are not very expensive. It will cost me around $100 in fuel to make the round trip to Kripalu, and the cost of the offsets is only about $4.
As another example, if I flew from Washington D.C. to Cancun, Mexico for a yoga retreat, the cost of carbon offsets would be about $6 for the roundtrip, a tiny amount compared to the cost of the retreat and the travel.
I like the offsets offered by CoolEffect.org because many of the projects, in addition to helping reduce or mitigate CO2 emissions, are making meaningful changes in peoples’ lives. As an example, several projects help people obtain more efficient cookstoves, which significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed and also improve air quality and reduce respiratory diseases.
Paying $50 to offset 4 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, covered all my yoga-related auto travel for 2017 as well as the trip to Kripalu. It’s a small price to pay to help put the brakes on CO2 emissions and global warming.