Reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is the holy grail of addressing climate change. We absolutely must reduce our carbon to stave off the worst effects of human-caused climate change—effects that are already manifesting as measurable sea-level rise, increased wildfire activity, increased storm intensity, pest migrations, and rising average global temperatures, among other impacts.
Thankfully, big business is leading the way. For example, since 2012, Microsoft has been 100% carbon neutral in their global operations in over 100 countries. This means that they are taking actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero and then offsetting any residual emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects around the world.
So, to achieve carbon neutrality individually, take actions to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions to zero. A good resource is Project Drawdown, by Paul Hawken. It’s a book, a list and a website, but buy the book. You do not have to do this all at once, but make it a mission. I have been working on reducing mine each year, setting goals, achieving them, and coming up with new goals, just as a corporate sustainability leader would do. Be your own Family Sustainability Leader.
Your Next Car
Your next vehicle should be a zero-emission vehicle—preferably electric. If you have been paying attention to our trip, you can see that an EV is demonstrably a better car all around than an emission-spewing gas- or diesel-powered vehicle. Even Neo has switched his allegiances. When we get home, he is selling his Mustang and joining the at least half-dozen of my friends who have ordered and/or taken delivery of a Tesla or other EV since our trip began. If you are still not sure, find friends who drive EVs and talk to them and then arrange for a test drive. You’ll see.
According to carbonfund.org, the average American’s total carbon footprint is 24 Metric Tons (52,920 lbs. of CO2) annually. The good news is that every American can offset their residual carbon the same way corporations do—by contributing to a third-party certified carbon offset project. For our road trip, taken as a project, we have eliminated local emissions and are offsetting the residual emissions from charging and other activities.
At the beginning our road trip, I reached out to Kayla Frost, Associate Editor at Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability to help us choose a carbon offsetting project for our road trip’s carbon offsets at carbonfund.org through social media. She created two polls—the first to choose a category (the community chose a Forestry Project and the second polling to select the project. I heard from Kayla today that ASU’s Sustainability Community on Twitter and Facebook have chosen The Purus Project, a tropical forest conservation project near the city of Manoel Urbano in the State of Acre, Brazil.
Banff, Day 2 Activity
Because I had always promised my son we would do it, on our one full day at Banff, Alberta, we embarked on an all-day all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tour in Invermere, BC—a two-hour drive out of the National Park into “Crown” (public) land where motor vehicles are allowed. As there were no electric ATVs available, we opted for the gasoline-powered ones. Using EPA online calculators, I estimated that the carbon produced by the ATVs, using 7 liters of gasoline each over 4 hours of riding and 2 riders is approximately 0.037 tons. Once I get the data for the round trip van ride from our hotel, I will add these numbers to estimate a total carbon for the activity and will add it to our aggregate for the trip. This will be offset along with other impacts at the end of our road trip by making a tax-deductible donation to Carbonfund and designating our donation to benefit The Purus Project.