You know what an omnivore is – it eats anything and, in some cases, everything. Well, I’ve just coined a new word – the omniviviphile. (Latin scholars, please do not throw up your hands in horror. Just go with it and forgive my poor Latin – my one grade C amidst a happy cloud of As and Bs.)
It means All + Life + Love. More or less, loving everything about life – and wanting to do it all. Usually all at once. And this presents me with dilemmas such as the one that I need to resolve by the end of today.
The question at stake is: how best to travel from Asia to North America for the start of my speaking tour in September?
I was fascinated a year or so ago to hear about a friend-of-a-friend who never flies any more, but hitches ride on container ships as they ply the world’s oceans. It is not a particularly cheap alternative to flying, although when you factor in the cost of food for the duration of the voyage, it’s not bad value either. And of course its main attraction to this green-at-heart ocean rower, yours truly, is its lower carbon footprint. It is claimed that flying produces 36 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than sea travel (presumably excluding oar-powered sea travel, which produces infinitely less carbon dioxide).
A bit of research threw up a number of websites with more information – notably The Traveler’s Notebook, which led me to Cruise People in London.
As a result, I now have sitting in my email inbox an invitation to join the Hatsu Courage from Hong Kong to Long Beach, sailing on August 19 and due to arrive 16 days later on Sept 3. I really want to do this. But my speaking tour is due to start in Asheville, NC, on Sept 8. In my experience nothing involving boats and oceans ever goes according to schedule – although this year, after my anticipated 100-day voyage took a mere 46 days, schedule variations don’t always involve being late. Just usually.
In fact, the container ship that was due to take my rowboat from Madang to Melbourne has just been postponed by a month. In that context, 5 days is not a very comfortable margin of safety.
So here are my thought processes so far, in weighing up the pros and cons of sailing versus flying:
– makes a statement that there ARE alternatives to flying that DON’T involve rowing!
– good opportunity to work offline and start work on the Pacific book
– unusual experience – and I’m all about experiences
– find out what actually happens on the bridge of container ship – may be useful for future safety when I am back in my rowboat
– could miss the start of US speaking tour, and only refunded if the sailing is cancelled – no refund if delayed
– 2 weeks out of the loop at a crucial stage of tour planning (the ship may have internet, but I have not received a response to this question. I can, of course, take my satphone, and send/receive SMS messages on that, so I won’t be totally incommunicado)
– 2 weeks that I could spend doing interesting things in Asia
– more expensive than flying (about $2,100 vs $900, although it does of course include 16 days of board and lodging)
The first pro and the first con are the biggest factors as far as I’m concerned. I really want to show that a lower-carbon lifestyle can actually be fun and feasible. But I don’t want to cause my amazing team of volunteer event organisers to have nervous breakdowns if I am delayed on the ocean. Our plans for Asheville are already well formed, largely thanks to the energetic response of Laurey Masterton, and it would be a tragedy if I was late for my own speaking tour.
It’s a terrible dilemma. So I decided to share it, in the hopes that the Rozling community might come up with some input that would help me make up my mind – or even information about some other low-carbon alternative.
So… over to you! What do you think I should do? Let me know as soon as you can, as I need to decide today!
Please do NOT tell me that “The plane flies with or without you” as someone on Twitter just did. Sorry to be rude, but this is an utterly fatuous argument, perilously close to “everyone else does it so it’s okay if I do too”. That is NOT the way to change the world!
… although, of course, if you occupy a seat that would otherwise be empty then you are reducing the carbon footprint of all the other passengers by a (trivial) amount. And if you do choose to fly, the consequential carbon dioxide will benefit the eight trees I planted earlier this year and will be offset by my not flying to the UK this summer as originally planned (I’m building a house instead).
I imagine it could be quite tedious on such a voyage, unless you have writing etc. that you want to do. I can’t imagine there’s a lot of space where you’d want to sit – no luxury lounges, pools etc. Also, your satphone may not work inside your cabin because of the steel of the ship so not necessarily in communication.
If you fly, could you spend your saved two weeks doing something carbon positive, and thereby offset your flight?
The cargo ship option is pretty cool, I would like to do that myself. I guess that rowing back to the US is not an option, eh? Oh well. Since timing is important, you should fly, and perhaps buy carbon offsets if you think that’s worthwhile. The airplane may well fly with or without you, but there is a marginal fuel cost that’s directly related to your presence on the airplane. You could cover that and be guilt free.
Even if a carbon offset purchase isn’t viable, you will do far more good by your presence than you would on an extended cruise.
I think people are missing the point. It’s not whether or not the airplane will fly if you’re on it, or the difference in fuel used with or without your body on board. The way it should be considered is that each person on the airplane is equally responsible for the consequences of the flight, and therefore the pollution it creates and the fossil fuel it uses.
I’m not sure how you would calculate such a thing for a non-passenger ship. It’s equally unfair to say the ship will sail with or without you as it is to say that for the airplane. Surely your presence on the ship is somewhat responsible for the consequences of the journey, but I’m not sure what percentage, since the primary purpose of the ship is to carry cargo and not people.
Hi there again, Roz.
I’m with Jim. The gesture of not flying is indeed symbolic, but it comes with a cost that seems higher than the marginal benefit. If your goal is to help the environment, you should consider the whole picture, not just the isolated gesture.
Calculate the CO2 released by the extra fuel and offset that by donating to plant trees (for example). It’s probably much cheaper, and the marginal carbon footprint because of you will have been zero. So you save money and time, and have an impact at your event. All good.
If you’re afraid of bad signaling: I think by flying+offset AND explaining it will signal that you are a much smarter environmentalist than the average. Because all things consider, you will make a bigger positive impact, and that’s what really matter.
Remember that “avoid flying” is just a rule-of-thumb, a proxy for “reducing CO2 emissions”. It’s true like that, isolated. But one should keep in mind that the ultimate goal is still the latter, not the former, and there are solutions that are carbon neutral EVEN flying.
I can’t resist sharing these — a bit technical, but very related to the issue, and should clarify your thoughts:
2) http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/09/politics-isnt-a.html (because you want to build environmentalism THAT REALLY IS about environmentalism)
3) http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ws/the_importance_of_goodharts_law/ (see “A speculative origin of Goodhart’s Law.”)
Cheers, and good flight!
P.S.: Now, you can always, of course, get a cargo ship later just for the pleasure of the experience. =)
Hi, Dan. I’m not missing the point. Roz has asked for opinions to help her decide whether to take the fast-but-polluting method or the slow-but-less-polluting method. Since she really ought to be someplace specific at a certain time, she should choose the method that will get her where she needs to be, and mitigate. With airliners, it is generally possible to buy carbon offsets when you buy tickets.
The cargo ship option is a nice idea, but a bit impractical in the circumstances, I think. Maybe something like that could be planned into your next trip, Roz.
correcting: “Because all things considerED, you will make a bigger positive impact, and that’s what really matterS. ”
Also: “reducing CO2 emissions” is also not the ultimate goal, but itself a proxy for “reducing global warming”, which is a proxy for “preserving the environment”, which is a proxy for, roughly, “saving our lives, and being proud and able of living in a healthy, beautiful planet”. That last one is where our eyes should ultimately be.
Being a former resident of Western Carolina and the Smoky Mountain region, and familiar with Asheville, my thoughts are these: If you can allow some time to spare, you can see how adventure-active that area really is, and enjoy the white-water rivers, tramping and cycling, and the people who are also working for a sustainable environment. If I was still living there, I would attend your presentation. But, being in NZ now, I do hope to be at the ‘Indian Ocean’ send-off, next year. Cheers,
I question the assertion that “flying produces 36 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile”.
The QE2 has a million gallon fuel capacity, a cruising range of 7500 miles, and passenger capacity of 1778.
The 747-400ER has a 63,705 gallon fuel capacity, a range of 7670 miles, and passenger capacity of 416.
Roughly speaking, the QE2 carries 4.3 times as many passengers and burns 16 times the fuel. Does ship’s diesel yield 134 times less CO2 per gallon than burning jet fuel (i.e. produce 36 times less carbon dioxide per passenger-mile)? I seriously doubt it.
Finally, I’ll note that ship passengers usually take an airplane flight on one or both ends of the trip.
I seriously doubt that ship travel is greener than air travel in any sense.
The suggestion (not yours) that container ship travel is greener than ocean liner travel is just a variant of the “The plane flies with or without you” argument.
I’m with Christopher Schmidt on this one. I made some similar calculations a while ago for ships, aeroplanes, trains, cars, etc. You can get any answer you want by making different assumptions but still there is not a huge difference between the different modes – maybe a factor of two or so but not 36.
I admit I didn’t consider container ships (and agree that it would be difficult to decide the proportion of emissions to allocate to any passengers) but did look at both liners and cruise ships which have somewhat different profiles: liners go quite a bit quicker and so burn a lot more fuel.
I think that if we ever do get serious about cutting carbon emissions then there will be a market for sea-borne transport which is set up to allow people to continue their businesses while travelling, i.e., cabins with decent desks and internet connectivity.
One consideration with aviation, particularly long-haul flights, is that they tend to operate in the stratosphere. There’s some argument about how much worse CO ₂ emissions at these heights are but they’re broad agreement that, per kg, it’s about twice the effect of emissions on the surface.
However, I think the particular problem with aviation is not so much that it emits more CO₂ per passenger·kilometre but more that it is so convenient (and relatively cheap) that it means that individuals make journeys that they otherwise would not.
The important question is not, given that you’re making a journey, what mode of transport to use but rather whether or not to make the journey in the first place.
Yep! Since we lack the resources to teleport, and your mission is to disseminate your message; the real bottom-line is to meet your time commitments. presenting a message as crucial as yours will offset the carbon footprint through encouraging others to offset theirs. Enjoy the flight – in your case it’s worth it. 😉
I think Ed hit it square on. If you have to travel to be somewhere a great distance away then flying is the thing to do, assuming you really don’t have the time for something slower. The problem with airline travel and similarly with plastic is it’s something we need but also something we waste. If you don’t need to fly then don’t. If you don’t need plastic then refuse it. “Reduce” is one of the legs that the environmental movement stands on. It doesn’t say “eliminate”, which in many cases would be nice but “reduce” works better than nothing.
Christopher has done the calculation that I had in mind … and seems to be supported by this statement:
According to the carbon offset company Climate Care, per passenger mile, passenger ships release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than long haul flights. However, Cunard attempted to reduce the carbon footprint of Queen Mary 2 by improving engine efficiency and reducing friction while the ship is in motion. In November 2008, the ship was given a refit in Hamburg, part of which involved the repainting of the hull in paint which is designed to reduce drag, and thus improve fuel economy.
“RMS Queen Mary 2” at wikipedia.org > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Queen_Mary_2
Given: “Roughly speaking, the QE2 carries 4.3 times as many passengers and burns 16 times the fuel.”
Therefore, a ship consumes 3.7 times the fuel per passenger-mile … in round numbers 4 times as much.
The carbon content of SHIP fuel (Bunker C and Diesel) and Jet fuel (Kerosene) are nearly the same:
Kerosene . . . 21 pounds CO2/gallon > JETS
Bunker C . . . 25 pounds CO2/gallon > SHIPS
Diesel . . . . . 22 pounds CO2/gallon > SHIPS
Gasoline . . . 19 pounds CO2/gallon > CARS/TRUCKS
I think other consideration also point to the quick trip by jet as mentioned by other Rozlings.
Even though one can say the ship will be going there anyway, and how much does one body contribute when the total load is hundreds of thousands of tons, every 100# of weight requires a tiny bit more fuel per mile, over 7,000+ miles it adds up. I vote for flying and purchasing carbon credits from a credible company who has a record of building windfarms and solar electric facilities.
You would be contributing to the cost of the ship. So what is its cargo? Essential food items or plastic toys?
To think about this another way: if you lead, who will follow? There’s a relatively small sector of society who perceive boat travel as feasible in their lives. Above a certain level of influence, the time tradeoff is intolerable. For instance, I don’t want my Secretary of State to go by boat to the Middle East or Korea. Your gesture will raise important questions, but will it affect others’ actions in a meaningful way? Other activists, artists, authors, and people with months of leisure time in their year can follow your example. Will they be enough? Perhaps you should plan a different trip by cargo ship, as the risk to your mission seems high with this one.
Go by ship. Then, if it’s late and you miss a meting the people who went to the trouble of arranging it will not mind because you saved a few pounds of carbon dioxide. Thereafter you will want to be sure to drive at no more than 35 mph and if that makes you late for another event, well, so be it. Or perhaps you might travel by bicycle which will reduce the number of events considerably and that will be unfortunate for tthe people who hoped to meet you. You won’t make much of an impression or make much money, but you can bask in the selfish feeling that you have avoided doing some small harm while ruining the hopes of, maybe hundreds or even thousands. And those people will be that much less inclined to follow your teachings.
As I noted in my facebook comment, one of the dilemmas of our time is that many times what seems to be the answer, isn’t the answer. Several people above have provided info that sort of debunks the idea that passenger travel by ship leaves as big a carbon foot print as flying in a long haul jet. My own calculations agree with that general conclusion. So I say fly, buy the carbon offsets and use this dilemma as a talking point in your presentations. I’m sure there are a number of us who will help you place the dilemma in terms that your public can understand.
Sorry to say your mission is about getting the word out, not living the word. Imagine the carbon foot print of humans if only 1% of us lived your life. You are out there to raise attention to issues. It is your speaking, filming and writing that makes what you do a positive for the earth. So right now focus on getting the word out and worry less about the “image” that people have of what is the most “efficient” way to travel. The best way to travel is to not travel. When we choose to travel all we can do is offset the negatives of that travel by doing something good. We need you out there sharing you ideas and experiences, not fretting about the best way to travel. The good you are doing far outweighs any negatives of any travel choice you make. Buying carbon offsets makes what you do doubly good.
Too much said, just get here on time even if it means flying. Being here is what you are all about.
Looking at your main pros and cons makes this a comparison of the “alternative” travel by boat and getting here in time for your tour. I ask, “Is boat travel really an alternative to flying as a way to travel?” Most Americans fly because of the time element. If I have two weeks for vacation am I going to take a boat to London and spend 10 of those days traveling by ship, or am I going to spend 2 days flying and have 10 -12 days in “Europe?” The real change is going to come when we change our perception of how to spend leisure time.
Hi Roz, I traveled on a cargo ship 41 years ago, from SFO to Bangkok. Yes, it was fascinating and at the time, much cheaper than airlines. I did it for a number of reasons: price, experience, my two-year-old daughter, etc. I support the cargo route if you can manage to arrive on time, otherwise, I support air travel. I do have a practical side; therefore, I encourage you to weigh reaching people through your series of talks instead of being late and modeling less of a human footprint! I know you will make the best possible decision based on all of the facts.
Here are my thoughts – if you fly you have lots of extra time to plan for your Fall tour. Additionally you would have access to the net as well as other amenities. And finally you would be assured of your arrival time and could plan when you need to be where with reasonable certainty.
My best to you Lady Roz!
I admit I was surprised by the results of your commenters’ analyses. Based on that, I would recommend that you fly, make the most of the extra time at both ends, and (big agreement here) talk about this decision as a case study. It’s a great example of how to approach some of these questions in our lives based on facts, not preconceptions.
Carbon aside, those ships burn bunker fuel, which is really nasty stuff. I believe that the US and Canada recently banned its use in coastal waters due to its impact on air quality.
All the best,
Last night I happened to bump into someone who knows a lot about the shipping industry. Am reassured that delays out of Hong Kong are unlikely. Also realised that I really feel it’s the right thing environmentally to take the ship rather than fly – and when I have to make a decision and all else is equal, the environment holds the casting vote. So I’m going to go for it.
If it turns out that there is a delay, then I suppose I will have to throw money at the problem and jump on a plane. But at least I’ll have tried to do the right thing.
Ah, but now I’ve just read all of the above comments. What a very well-informed readership I have! All very interesting input. Always good to get the FACTS of a case, so I very much appreciate the information.
I’ve just received an additional offer of someone wanting to organise a speaking engagement, and can only fit it in if I arrive earlier in the US. So that may decide the matter.
Sigh. Decisions can be complicated! I am going to go out for a long walk to think about it.
Texino says take the boat. It is a worthy experience.
John Kay is right on.
Boat would be fun and productive for you.
Flying would give you the opportunity to speak with more people – and make a difference in this would more that you can imagine!
Save a few pounds of CO2 on the ship, or save millions of pounds of CO2 by influencing lots of people to save? 😉
If I were in your shoes I think I would choose the ship. Despite the numbers, it sends a greater message. Its ok to choose the alternative. It may not be the best alternative according to the numbers but, you are choosing to do _something different_. To take a jet is the same thing everybody else would do. Its not the alternative.
Granted of course, you just rowed across on ocean 🙂
Maybe taking the ship will give you a different perspective on the ocean you just rowed across. Maybe it will be an experience of a lifetime instead of being just another passenger on just another commercial jet…
Also note: the ship may burn more carbon per “passenger mile”, but keep in mind it is not a passenger ship. It has other duties and is going that way anyway. You are just hitching a ride. In effect, you are recycling/reusing the carbon the ship would be burning anyway.
anyway, forget the schedule, do what makes most sense for YOU. I have a feeling you won’t be left behind if you are a little late 🙂
You could alway ask around the marina’s and see if there is a sailing vessel headed to the US but then your talking about another month at sea :p
Gotta add something…
Aside from the carbon footprint, there are always economical and social impacts to any purchase you make. The boat may actually pollute more (if that is true), but airlines are the biggest polluter overall. By purchasing a single ticket you are contributing to that industry as a whole.
take the boat that is my vote!
The cargo ship will emit a disappointly large amount of CO2 over the course of its journey. Perhaps someone covered it above, but a fast-moving ship of that sort really churns through the fuel. They have schedules to meet, and they meet them with great reliability. It is, of course, cost advantageous to conserve fuel, but the schedule is the big driver. I guess I just don’t see merchant shipping as “green”. I don’t think most do, so I’m not sure opting for that conveyance sends the message you’re hoping to send.
Also, I did note one comment above that suggested it’s not about reducing CO2, but rather that that is just a proxy for reducing global warming. That’s backwards thinking. CO2 is the pollutant. Global warming is just a symptom of the CO2 disease. GW may even be offset by increased cloudiness and albedo, with a subsequent cooling. But the Keeling curve tells us that CO2 is going up alarmingly – at a rate that is clearly beyond climate cycles. And that CO2 is poisoning our oceans and having other yet unknown impacts. Nuff said,
Ship: Boring. It will only be an experience that you will be able to talk about. No one will share it. You could see it as a vacation, but that doesn’t seem to be your MO. Come back to the US. -S
Arrrh don’t listen to all those cream puddles lass! Asia’s loaded with the two most valuable commodities in the world: Gold and Opium. Now you’re one sharp chicken and with your contacts in PNG you could ship your own container of swag straight on the old billy and mum’s the word till you come strolling down the gangplank with a new hat and one million bucks US and you clean as the day you was born. Ah go for it and you’ll have your research facility in jig time and we’ll get you a Roller that runs on Co2′ all the better for the air you know.
Fair winds and giant clean waters to you.
Captain Tomas Texino
“Despite the numbers, it sends a greater message. Its ok to choose the alternative. It may not be the best alternative according to the numbers but, you are choosing to do _something different_. To take a jet is the same thing everybody else would do. Its not the alternative.” —David
So, as far as I see, David is saying that signaling originality and eccentricity is more valuable than reducing global warming, is that correct…?
Seriously, “despite the numbers” and “something different” are not appealing arguments…
my gut, as yours, says ‘take the ship’ – the message, the experience, the time for reflection…. And I too was wondering where the ship goes along the way, just in the unlikely case that it is delayed – then you could ‘jump ship’ to plane/train.
and WHAT an amazing response from the Rozlings….. SO much fantastic real INFORMATION – facts, as you say. I’m so impressed. And….it’s just another example of the example you are showing to so many.
how about a ship back to Blighty?….. I’m wondering how on earth I can get to Perth/WE/Fremantle next March, without a plane ! arghhhh
much love to you
ps the site doesn’t seem to see my website as a ‘valid url’ – any ideas?
You don’t mention how you’d get from Madang to Hong Kong. If your intention is to set an example, wouldn’t it be shooting yourself in the foot to a certain extent to start off by flying a couple of thousand miles in the wrong direction?
For most due to lack of time this is moot. When we have time to travel air is the
Realistic option. Only so much vacation time. That is missing in this
discussion. I am also skeptical about carbon offsets seem too good to
Be true and actually mask actions. If I had weeks rather than days I would
Think about the ship but probably still fly as the numbers dictate flying not as
bad as its reputation.
Regardless will see you in asheville as its my home state!
Can The Rozlings recommend some reputable carbon offset companies? Perhaps Roz could have a link on her website if she doesn’t already? Thanks.
I’m kind of surprised no one has mentioned a third alternative… Don’t travel at all and utilize technology to get the message across. What would be wrong with setting up a big screen for the audience and delivering the speech/message via tele-presence? I find this need to physically be everywhere somewhat antiquated with the alternative solutions we have available today.
Roz, a few years ago, I met a gentleman from London who has developed a technology to reduce drag on the bottom of ocean-going vessels … http://www.dkgroup.dk/ is his website. I have not vetted the facts and figures in his presentation, but … did you realize there are 90,000 ocean-going vessels plying the high seas, and that one vessel spews pollution equivalent to 50 million cars … EACH?
For a rude awakening, read the presentation http://j.mp/1Ship50MMcars and pay particular attention to page 16 to help put these astronomical numbers into perspective.
So, although in tomorrow’s post (Marine Matters and Fishy Photos http://ff.im/-mkVJG ) I recommend you take the slow boat from China to Long Beach because of the infinitesimal incremental impact you personally would be making, and to avert the “if only …” syndrome, I also feel that by taking the boat, you will be able to internalize the presentation by Jorn Winkler. Having worked in the ocean cargo transportation industry for 24 years, I know in my gut this is probably the most serious threat to humanity.
I am just paralyzed with fear that our globalized economy and the lack of concern about this segment of the problem will cause our demise. In the long run, we have to simply stop burning fossil fuels — the CO2 that was sequestered over 350 million years by photosynthesis which we are releasing at a rate one millions times that sequestration.
I am posting this on yesterday’s blog intentionally — for those who are really interested in following up on this thread — as this is not for the casual reader:
Rozlings, think about this … as CO2 was taken out of the atmosphere and the concentration came down from the original anaerobic conditions to 2000 ppm CO2 to 1000 ppm to 425 ppm, voila, ice formed on earth. Ice formed at about 425 ppm CO2 (+/-75 ppm). We are now heading back from pre-industrial 280 ppm — which is the condition over the past 10,000 to 12,000 years in which our civilization has developed — to 390 ppm (today) and we are heading toward 400 ppm very soon and a strong likelihood of passing 425 ppm and 450 ppm or higher if we don’t take effective action to reduce the concentration back to 350 ppm sometime mid-next-century. If the CO2 concentration exceeds 400-500 ppm and continues to increase higher and higher, imagine an ice-free planet for our progeny.
We focus on the coal burning power plants, but we need to look at the boats and the global economy.
Take the boat, Roz. Your blog has reawakened what I have been suppressing for a year or so … we need to make this an issue. I have raised it to my Senators and Representative and to Al Gore himself. But nobody seems to want to face it head on. Roz, this could be the most important issue you bring to the forefront of the conversation. Take pix of the sea life we need to preserve — that is the canary in the coal mine — but take picture of what is one of the biggest threats to humanity …. 90,000 mega-boats.
For the earth
Let me provide a different perspective. I am in the container shipping business here in the USA (Savage, MN!) Your concern is the Sept 3rd arrival and your Sept 8th committment. The Hatsu Courage is most likely a “direct call” from the port of Hong Kong to Long Beach. In other words,
it is not stopping at other ports along the way. THAT is where delays can occur..during stop offs. If the vessel departs as scheduled on Aug
19th – There is your answer! And I did it for you. I went to the Hatsu
website, pulled up the “point to point” vessel schedule and located the Courage. it is due out on Aug 19th, and will actually berth at Los Angeles port on Aug 2nd, then move over and berth at Long Beach on the 3rd. Los Angeles and Long Beach are considered separate ports within the greater Los Angeles ports area. Nothing stopping you from climbing off
at Los Angeles on the 2nd!! Also vessel traffic from Asia to the USA is slow right now, as we recover from the global recession, so I would expect no delays waiting to berth when you reach the USA coast. If
departure in Hong Kong is delayed….don’t get on the vessel.
Yes that is exactly what I’m saying. Because I believe the fundamental problem – the path to change – is to change our lifestyles as a whole.
I can walk about 3 blocks to walmart, but I choose not shop there. I choose to drive several miles to the farmers market every saturday to get my food.
I understand the carbon issue, but whats worse? burning fuel to go support local farmers and fill my belly with organic goods that have never seen the inside of a truck? or supporting an industry that breeds consumption and convenience on a global level?
The shipping industry may pollute just as much as the airline industry, but, By saying no to the airline industry as a whole, you send a greater message. By taking a ride on a cargo ship, you are not supporting the cargo industry as a whole. The fight against consumerism and convenience will do far more for the reduction of cargo ships (and cross country shipping) than avoiding taking rides on them….
On the subject of carbon offsets, my travel (car and train as well as flying) is offset by Carbon Foresight: http://www.carbonforesight.com/. You’ll see that I’m featured on their home page.
Thanks to all who have contributed to this lively and informative debate. I’ve learned a lot – and hopefully you have too!
When Carbon Foresight works with organizations to measure and manage their carbon emissions, we suggest that they first focus on what is most organizationally relevant. Meaning, that they look at their key competencies and major area of impact, in terms of guiding them in their carbon minimizing decisions.
For example, years ago a major North American carmaker chose to focus their efforts on retrofitting their manufacturing facilities, instead of their major area of impact – their product – the cars they produce! As a result, unfortunately they largely ignored the products’ fuel efficiency and were impacted years later when consumers began demanding this. In another example, a major software firm realized that amazingly its thousands of clients were responsible for 20% of all human global carbon emissions. They correctly understood that to make the greatest difference would be to focus on helping their customers reduce their impact and not necessarily scrutinizing each and every flight they take in such a way that it may impact their ability to help their own customers.
In a similar way, Roz can have the greatest impact by speaking and inspiring people by sharing her motivations and experiences. While it’s important to lead by example, having Roz available to speak to as many people as possible likely outweighs the possible incremental carbon benefit of ship travel over air travel.
In any case, any air travel that Roz must take is being offset by investing in an African carbon offset project. The 75,000 acre Rukinga Sanctuary in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor in Southeast Kenya, reduces carbon emissions by implementing a management plan to protect the forest and avoid the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Funding toward this project helps protect the forest and provide forest users an alternative to reliance on the forestland.
While offsets are not a solution to climate change, they do help when there are limited alternatives and most practical carbon saving / minimizing options have already been exhausted.