Offsets: One Way to Mitigate Our CO2 Emissions

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January 17, 2009

By Bob Difley
If we parked our RVs, toads, and tows and just didn’t drive we could eliminate our CO2 emissions, but we would also be giving up the wandering RV way of life we all enjoy and worked so hard to achieve.
Fortunately there are other ways to help save the planet, to stall the relentless march of global warming, to stop the world’s ice caps and glaciers from turning into torrents of fresh water, and to keep our favorite ocean-side campsites above the high tide line.
When RVing we already conserve in many ways compared to living in our houses. We use less water, less air-conditioning and heating, and generate less landfill-destined trash. And even though we drive slower, stay longer, and travel closer to home, our RVs still use fuel and therefore emit CO2, one of the greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. But now there are companies that offer options to what emissions we cannot eliminate.
The Web site, www.carbonfund.org, sums it up in its slogan, Reduce What You Can, Offset What You Can’t. The practice of “offsets”, also known as “carbon offsets,” is a process that allows us to become part of the climate change solution by offsetting our personal carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The greenhouse gasses, primarily CO2 but also methane and chlorofluorocarbons, we send into the atmosphere result from the burning of fossil fuels—the gasoline and diesel fuels used in our RVs and tow vehicles, transportation of manufactured goods and food to sales outlets, and everyday-use electricity to operate our heating and air conditioning, lights, TVs, ice-makers, blenders, hair-dryers, and electric screwdrivers.
These atmospheric greenhouse gasses are now 40% higher than they were during the Industrial Revolution, in fact they are the highest in recorded history, causing the average global temperature for the decade of the 1990s to be the warmest in 1,000 years.
But for now, lets consider just those CO2 molecules generated by our RVs and tow vehicles, without which we would not have an RV Lifestyle. Carbon Offsets can be more cost effective and practical than many other measures we as individuals can take to compensate for those gasses we emit.
Several organizations provide Carbon Offset Calculators on their Web sites where you can convert your personal CO2 emissions from the miles you drive annually based on the average MPG of your vehicles into a dollar figure that you then contribute to the many projects that offset those emissions, such as building wind farms solar power plants, research into alternative energy sources, and planting of trees. However, since planting trees is a long term solution (and questionable about the amount of CO2 a tree can actually absorb), and a warming climate is more imminent, choosing a Carbon Offset provider that is building wind farms or solar panel arrays might be more effective.
But take some time to check out your offset provider. A little research is required to find out what projects the offsets go to? Are their projects certified? Does any independent authority audit them to ensure your money is going to the projects mentioned in the marketing? Compare prices. Do they use any recognized guidelines to prepare their calculations? Are your funds supporting new projects, not ‘business as usual’?
Do some calculations. For instance, an estimate of 10,000 annual motorhome miles at an average MPG of 8.5, and an equal amount driven in a toad (MPG of 28), calculates out to 13.6 tons of emitted CO2. The cost to offset a year’s driving works out to a paltry $6.25 a month!
To figure your Carbon Offsets, and also calculate the offset you need for special events or trips, such as a plane trip to visit grandkids, go to www.carbonfund.org, select the Individuals tab and click Carbon Calculators and enter your figures.
Additional carbon calculators and methods to reduce your carbon footprint can be found at: www.liveneutral.org, www.e-bluehorizons.com, and www.atmosclear.org. You can also subscribe to the free bi-monthly The Green Guide from National Geographic at www.thegreenguide.com.

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33 comments

  1. John

    More liberal nonsense.

  2. steve

    sounds like a way for someone to make a lot of money–the last 5 years around Michigan have been cold–currently 10 degrees, doesnt feel much like global warming to me!!!

  3. Roger

    John,
    I’m glad to know that only Comi-pinko “Liberals” pollute.

    It must be nice to live in a world where you can dismiss every fact or scientific data that you don’t want to accept.

    I think the real problem is that not enough conservatives are in a place of power so they can simply vote away pollution.

    John, When can we expect you to present the facts about the coal ash pond leak that proves that ash is good for you?

    Where can I get the conservative thermometers that read lower numbers when the heat flux goes up?

    What I and others have learned over the past few years is that real conservatives are never bothered by facts as they just make up their own reality and if that doesn’t work then simply resort to name calling.

    Bob, Keep offering interesting concepts and posts and just ignore the luddites that probably still believe the world is flat.

  4. Roger

    Steve, It’s “Global”
    Please explain this: The average winter temperatures in northwestern Minnesota have climbed about 12 degrees F during the past 40 years, and average summer temperatures have increased 4 degrees F

    40 year history not this week.

  5. GMAs

    bob.. here you go again… with the trolling…

    One would learn the first time about shooting one in ones foot… its gota hurt…

    Oh well… here we go again…

    These atmospheric greenhouse gasses are now 40% higher than they were during the Industrial Revolution, in fact they are the highest in recorded history, causing the average global temperature for the decade of the 1990s to be the warmest in 1,000 years.

    Says who.. show me the facts and figures… or else leave it alone… These AG nuts go around pulling figures out of space without basis…..

    Aw gee lets see… how many people were on earth during the indurstrial rev vs NOW.

    What your missing here folks is that while playing shell games with CO offsets.. its not about the CO that they are conserned… well its a item.. no instead they want to charge you for these credits… paying one that has them and selling to ones that need them once they set up the law… you reach for your pocket book again.

    The money really will help clean up the air and make things right again–ya right… just means it cost more to do what you used to do for free…

    Hey Bob… do a inventory of what generates the most CO… cars.. nope… planes.. nope… electricity.. BINGO… According to real facts and Figures.. to keep your lights on and your computer running along with heating houses… the Electric power plant puts out more than 4 times the amount of CO per DAY than all the cars in the US do. Go Figure…

    Now if the enviromental nazi’s wanted to really jump on the stick they would start attacking the powerplants instead of cars/RV’s . Know why they don’t… its about the money duty… go figure again.. What is really the funny’est is that they same idiots who are now wining about CO are the same ones that were against Nucular power plants which of course don’t burn Oxygen… thus forcing the powerplants to go on to hydrocarbon fuels… remember old Jane Fonda and her BS about the nucular power plant going to china.. well… she is one of them their nazi’s.. peace etc…

    So now they are quietly changing their little minds back to where … just maybe nucular might be the answer to cutting OVER 80% OF THE CO GENERATED DAILY. Of course they will have to eat crow as the oldies remember them too well…

    Now on to the issue of the CO vs Earth.. ahhhh seems that CO is not the heater one would think if one knows about the physics of the earth. See Mother nature had this little balancing act… Plants and even the ocean plankton LOVE CO.. it hels them go grow… they take it in and convert it to O2… wow now that is mind boggling.. here is a plant that thrives on CO and produces O2.. wow… More CO more green plants… and like your mother goes around cleaning up after you.. and the mess you make.. huh…

    Getting back to the increase in CO as measured today… by the fruits and nuts…
    Tell Us all WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A VALCANO POPS IT S TOP… HOW MUCH CO DOES IT RELEASE? OPS… MT St. Hellens put how much into the air… and yes it was measured… so you want to blame the car and RV for what???…

    Come on.. get back to writing some intelligent articles.. and leave the trolling alone… or else next time we just hit the del key when we see your name… Quit being a talking head on a string…

    contrary to Al Gore and his opinion based on his opinion…Global warming is not caused by man…. you only need to look up and see the big heater in the sky doing it. (I think in your case I should make the special case of point out to you that you should only look up during the daylight hours… yep for real) .. besides I like it a little warmer.. I don’t have such a high energy bill.. which pisses off the power company… grin… I live and I have my rights to use as much as I want… SO THEIR… and if you tell me I can’t… your BIASED, Discrimatory AND OFFENSIVE TO MY LIFESTYLE. You don’t want to be politically INCORRECT Now DO YOU … for doing so. My take on this subject is … that if your so conserned about it… stop breathing and using my air… smile… Just think of the CO you would save…. and how our lives would be so much happy’er

  6. Dalton Tamney

    At the risk of being labelled as politically incorrect, I submit that global warming has been taking place for the last 10,000 years. One has only to look at the path the glaciers in the mountains ploughed during the last ice age to see how far they have receeded since then. This is the result of global warming. I can be convinced that we may be contributing to it but I cannot see that we are the cause. I have heard geologists say that in 25,000 years North America will be under a mile of ice. The next ice age. My two cents worth.

  7. GMAs

    See what happens when you lose the right to own a gun… you get lots of people (NUTS) telling you what you can and can’t do. They threaten and can force you into submission. If you had one still … would they be so bold and demanding?

    You would probably need taller boots to step over all the dead ones… But, think of how much nicer place the world would be.

  8. rick

    THE END IS NEAR! Use up all you can before it is over! Don’t worry about this environmental crap. It’s all going to be gone soon anyway. Jesus will be back SOON !

  9. Ralph Benoliel

    i am going to get a Volt for my toad, and plan to fuel it up with my solar panels.

  10. George Miller

    Bob, Do you dispute that global warming is 95% caused by water vapor?? George Miller

  11. John says: “More liberal nonsense.” I guess John McCain is a liberal also, since he advocated offsets.

  12. To Dalton Tamney for his “two cents worth.”
    You are pretty much correct in your statements. However, let me add this. Yes we are in a condition of global warming caused by the natural cycle of warming and cooling between ice ages. This has happened for millions of years and can be quite predictable. What is happening now is the speed of the warming compared to the geologic record of past ice ages. What is also happening is a build up of greenhouse gasses (GG) in the atmosphere to a degree that has never happened before in history. It is this level of GG that is felt by most scientists to account for the speed of the warming cycle, and that these excess GG are caused by the activities of man.

  13. kellie

    I’d feel a lot better about believing their dire predictions for 100 years from now if they could get better at predicting the local weather beyound 3-5 days.

  14. Kellie – Yeah. Makes you wonder sometimes. But I don’t think that I’m smarter than all those people who are educated in meteorology and climatology and have great computing power at their disposal. I figure they are closer to being right than Gordon Liddy or GMAS or John or Steve or even the most prominent denier, John Coleman. But who knows, none of us will be around when the proof comes in.

  15. Way to go Ralph. When you get that Volt and hook it up to your motorhome, please send me a photo. Bob

  16. Vegasdan

    I found it quite interesting that California has many more wind generator farms in the planning stages but can’t build them as it takes electric towers and power lines to get this electricity to the metro centers and these transmission lines have to cross-gasp-areas that are protected for endangered species. So now one group of ecco-terrorists are fighting another group of ecco-terrorists.

  17. Fred

    VegasDan, Opinions are just guesswork – “guess I’ll try to convince someone.”

    And now the Good news! This article about new western state’s Energy Corridors just came out from the U.S. Forest Service. http://corridoreis.anl.gov/

    It includes actions to be taken by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Agriculture Department, all 38 National Forests, Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Land Management.

    For now it directs the eleven western states to assess the Energy Corridors for Oil, Gas and Hydrogen pipelines, and for Electric Distribution lines. It does not include those corridors already in place.

    The rulings are heavy on environmental protection. Note also that Hydrogen Pipelines are included. I wonder what that could mean?

  18. Fred

    Bob Difley,

    You liberal, tree hugging, far left, commie-pinko, when are you gon’na STOP passing out solutions and START being an opinionated, die-hard good ol’ boy, gun-totin’, war-monger like the minority are in this country of ours? God, I just can’t handle all this crap about solutions.

    Who wants solutions, that doesn’t solve anything. How ignorant!

  19. Fred

    VegasDan,

    I forgot to mention that in April of 2008, the Texas Utilities Commision mandated $4.3 billion to construct new major electric transmission lines to bring the power from the thousands of wind farms in west Texas and New Mexico to the north, central and south Texas metropolitan areas and all the little bitty communities in between.

    Those lines are already being built and have created lots and lots of new jobs and startup companies in more than just Texas. Texas leads the United States in wind energy.

    I think that, like the incoming government, visionary Texas lawmakers like to be a leader and an example for the nation.

    Also, just yesterday an approval was finally made, after 15 years of public resistance, to build a large wind farm in Nantucket Sound offshore off southern Cape Cod. What is it they say, “Not in my backyard.”

    When I asked a relative who lives on Cape Cod, if he was aware of this news, here is what he said.

    “Unfortunately, yes, we are all too aware of it. We have been contributors to SAVE OUR SOUND for years fighting this, so we were disheartened to hear on the news yesterday that it had passed a major hurdle.”

  20. Dan Rambow

    There are so many great comments here, I want to add another slant on the global warming idea. Greenhouse gasses can cause warming it seems. And one of the big offenders here is methane.
    Now many city folk may not know that a cow’s digestive tract creates lots of methane gas. Which results in a lot of cows farting. Being an alumnus of a famed agricultural school, I know that many studies have been done, on the amount of methane produced by all the cows in the world, it is is a big, big amount of methane.
    And just imagine, back before the buffalo hunters, there used to be herds of millions of buffalo cruising around the midwest, and I imagine a lot of farting was going on. Of course our Indian friends were following the herds around in their rv’s of the day, but that really doesn’t have much to do with methane. Now you might think that with all those millions and millions of buffalo gone, the methane situation would be better.
    But you would be wrong. You see, the ocean floor has been collecting dead plant and fish life for billions of years, and all that decaying material has created a great storehouse of methane. Every time there is an undersea earthquake or landslide, there is a tremendous amount of methane released. Much more than all the buffaloes and cows have farted since time began.
    The point of this little slant is that good old mother earth has been doing a pretty good job of creating its own greenhouse gasses on a much larger scale than mankind. We have certainly contributed to the problem, and we should try to do much better with our environment, but warming or cooling is coming whether we do something or not.
    Personally I don’t like smoggy days or smelly exhaust, so I choose to limit my personal pollution, and consider these carbon offsets to be a feel-good excuse for those that aren’t curbing their own environmental problems.

  21. Vegasdan

    Fred, not my opinion, saw it on my least favorite news network. The funny thing about the commentator for this piece-he was standing in front of a large wind farm project. You could see 30 or so windmills in the background. None were moving, I guess it takes wind. I wonder what was making the electricity that day? MMM could it be coal?

  22. Bob Difley

    To Dan Rambow on bison. I found an article in the Washington post on bison. Here is an portion:
    “Bison diets tend toward grasses and sedges [grasslike plants with solid stems], though they will eat forbs and shrubs (like willow) if they have to. It intrigues scientists that bison can subsist on low-quality, high-fiber diets, whereas cattle require finer fare. In fact, bison digestions are rated between 3.7 percent and 6.1 percent more efficient than those of cattle. Nature has equipped them well for survival on the Plains.
    Like other ruminants, bison emit large quantities of methane, a gas that is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. In this meat-eating epoch, there are more than a billion cows aboard the planet, producing some 15 percent of the methane in the atmosphere. Methane is also produced in voluminous quantities by the flatulence of a human population explosion nearing 6 billion, by decay processes in rice paddies and swampland, and by the digestive processes of the planet’s staggering population of termites. Thus, it seems likely that the bison population’s methane output, whether that of the past or that of bison brought back to the Plains in the future, is not a significant factor in the global methane level.”
    Now 30 to 60 million of them a couple hundred years ago would have been significant.

  23. Fred

    VegasDan, I did not mean what you wrote was opinion. I meant the opinion of some of the other commenmtors.

    You are so right about the wind not blowing. It bothers me that it would be futile for me to try to use wind as one of my means of power where I live. Too many places in the country have too little proper windy days. But, those places that do have strong, steady wind should take advantage of it. The western edge of the plains from Saskatchewan to Texas, and offshore our coasts are ideal.

    The best way is to have all of the power sources syncronized and working full time, with the least polluting being the primary ones for that day in that area. Fully adapted and properly dispersed with a computerized transmission array, that power could be used anywhere in the U.S. (and Canada) that needs it the most. That day is coming.

  24. Jeff

    Bob, when your Global warming religion is found to be a false prophet what spin will you put on it?

    1st of all, I believe that global climate change is real. The earths climate runs in cycles. However there is NO DEFINITIVE PROOF that this is caused by man.

    2nd of all there are disputes in the scientific community regarding the true nature of what your folks claim is “global warming”. In fact some scientists are calling for a global cooling.

    Oh, wait.. I forgot that global cooling is caused by global warming, when it rains that is global warming, when it is dry, that is global warming, when it is sunny, that is global warming, when it is cloudy, that is global warming, when it is night time, that is global warming.. So everything is global warming.. Phew..

    Good thing we have you and your believers to help us through these difficult times… Thank you SO MUCH!

  25. Bob Difley

    Jeff – What would you consider DEFINITE PROOF of global warming? In reality, there are seldom any scientific theories that can be said to have definite proof of their validity. Even Einstein’s theories are under constant scrutiny. Global warming will never have enough proof to satisfy every skeptic. All we laymen can do is read, listen, consider the sources, and take our best guess. In the case of global warming, I tend to go along with the majority of climatologists, where I feel that there is no agenda or they are not paid by multi-national corporations for their opinions. Mostly these are academics connected with universities, NASA, and other government agencies whose job it is to try to be as accurate as they can possibly be, since their reputation rests on their positions and what they publish. You, of course, can choose to believe any source you want, but I would suggest that you look at the credentials and reputation of those you choose to believe before making up your mind.
    Thanks for your comments.

  26. Jeff

    Bob, I am not one to go with the majority of anything. Credentials only mean that someone saw fit to certify that you believe what they believe and that you can pass exams… I would argue the fact that a “MAJORITY” of Meteorologists agree with the theory of global warming.. I have heard as many in opposition to global warming as those who agree with it.

    I am tired of all the B.S companies “going green” in order to get business. It is true hypocrisy! I know of one company that purchased plastic mugs for their employees so that they would not use card board cups anymore… By the way.. The plastic mugs had the company branding on them… Yeah really green!

    Bottom line.. Believe what you will.. I respect that. but…
    DO NOT PUSH IT ON ME!!! I have my own beliefs..

  27. Vegasdan

    Before Columbus, the majority of knowledgeable people from clergy to scientists of the day said the earth was flat. People were burned at the stake for stating the earth was not the center of the universe. I believe we all need to be sceptical of this global warming, cooling. Previous ice ages had nothing to do with man. There is proof that at one time the poles were as warm as the tropics today. What is considered the “correct” temperature for earth?

  28. Bob Difley

    Jeff says “I am not one to go with the majority of anything.”
    I’m not trying to push anything off on you. Believe what you will. It just seems like an odd way of looking at the world, not going “with the majority of anything”. Seems as if going against the odds (that’s another word for majority) wouldn’t be too successful in Las Vegas. Or in taking a position against the majority of the learned professionals in any field, or dismissing the work of independent certifying agencies that try to help ordinary people–like me–make the right decisions in fields where I have no expertise. But, yes, you can ignore all that and create your own beliefs out of the opinions of the minority.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Bob

  29. Bob Difley

    Vegasdan – Being skeptical is good. Scientists, by the very nature o their existence, are skeptical. But I would separate the clergy from the scientists. The clergy had their reasons for their positions, based mostly on church beliefs. They didn’t want any of the church’s beliefs questioned. Scientists, however, work constantly to debunk theories, rather than enforce them. That is the reason that they publish in peer reviewed publications, so that others in their fields can challenge their theories, and present their own. But as these theories keep getting challenged, and fewer and fewer scientists can find mistakes or errors in another’s hypothesis it tends to become accepted in the scientific community. However, as more information becomes available, these same scientists do not cling to the old disproved theories, as the clergy might, but embrace the new information and establish new ways of thinking. That was the case with the flat earth people. As explorers went out into the unknown and found something other than what was currently known, the theories all changed as well.
    As far as the correct temperature for the earth, up until a couple decades ago, the earth’s warming and cooling phases were very predictable, and a rising sea level would have been of no concern since it wouldn’t affect anyone for a few thousand years. But when that predictability was upset by new information and the predictions changed to reflect that information, it became apparent that these formerly long term changes to the earth’s climate would probably (yes, probably, because in science, nothing is 100% sure) happen much sooner, with a rising sea level inundating coastal areas–where most of the earth’s population lives–within many our lifetimes, and with dire results. So your options are to make some changes to head off this prediction, or to deny that it will happen until it is too late to do anything about it. People can decide for themselves which is the most prudent course of action.

  30. Do Patrick

    Some very good comments to the liberal political adjenda that I need not repeat. However, I know that I cannot , and do not believe Al Gore (who invented the internet). He could have chosen Global cooling (currently looks like a better choice) and his blind followers like Bob Diffey and his fellow libs would be defending that position.

  31. John Campbell

    Conservation, sustainability and environmental stewardship have their place, but please lets’s “Stop Green Insanity!”

    Global Warming (now euphemized as “Global Climate Change”) and the ‘concern’ over so-called greenhouse gas emissions are an enviro-scam.

    Unchecked, this political movement masqueading as science will result in grave economic hardship to many innocent people around the world.

    The junk science on which it global warming must be challenged.

    You can check out some of the scientific facts at this link: http://www.heartland.org/suites/environment/index.html

    or this link:
    http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm

  32. Rose

    I am not sure of the details but I saw on Nat Geo: As the Arctic warms there is a LOT of methane bubbling up which will add to cows, and other sources. That methane had been stored up for century after century. Let’s hear from an expert on that.

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