Flying Green

As most of us know by now, flying on an airplane - just like riding in a car or turning on that airconditioner at home - plays a villainous part in the global warming drama that's been unfolding even before there was Inconvenient Truth. We can't deny however that flying is a necessity for us to get from point A to point B expeditiously. Even Al Gore must be a frequent flier, if only to personally bring his message of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to cities all over the world. Being carbon neutral has become the new political correctness.

But what to do now for the guilty frequent flier? I admit - as if it's not obvious - I fly several times a year to mid-haul and long-haul destinations. Thankfully, I don't drive a car since New York City is served well by subways. In other words, by not driving a car (with just one occupant), I'm actually trying to offset my own flying greenhouse gas emissions. Subways, though it runs on electricity, are always packed with people so that balances it out. As Sustainable Travel International (STI) puts it in their website regarding carbon dioxide emissions, "you produce, and on the other, you reduce". That's carbon offsetting for you. And that's what basically is the guiding principle for some airline companies that have joined the green bandwagon. What this program does is that airline passengers voluntarily calculate the carbon footprint of their flights online and pay the equivalent amount needed - in cash or frequent flier miles - for carbon offsetting. The money is invested in renewable energy sources as well as the funding of research and carbon offset programs worldwide. At Cathay Pacific's website, its FLY Greener program aims exactly at that; it also has implemented measures to improve environmental performance and fuel efficiency of its airplanes.

Out of curiosity, I checked STI's carbon footprint calculator to see how much greenhouse gas is emitted flying from New York to Manila, a distance of about 17,000 miles one way. Look at what I got:A whopping 6.8 tons of carbon dioxide is what I've contributed to the atmosphere for a roundtrip between New York and Manila. That's a lot of soot up there for sure but as the calculator shows, I can opt to pay $238.67 to help find ways in reducing my mess. What an expensive trash indeed! Click here to find out your own CO2 emissions:

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