• Publication week for Descent 296

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Carbon offsetting for expeditions

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I was thinking of the effect of the long distant flights to certain caving expedition areas abroad. Mulu, Mexico, Megahalaya to name a few. Other than not flying so far, or at all, how do you calculate your carbon use and what can you do to offset it? I've seen various companies which charge to offset it for you but that seems a bit, er, like it doesn't really help.

Anyone offer any advice on this subject?
 

wellyjen

Well-known member
Make it a looonnnng expedition. The maximum amount of cave passage for your kg's of CO2. Plus the extra CO2 will increase the rate the limestone dissolves, so more cave to discover!
 

Mr Dinwiddy

Member
I was thinking of the effect of the long distant flights to certain caving expedition areas abroad. Mulu, Mexico, Megahalaya to name a few. Other than not flying so far, or at all, how do you calculate your carbon use and what can you do to offset it? I've seen various companies which charge to offset it for you but that seems a bit, er, like it doesn't really help.

Anyone offer any advice on this subject?
Most of those offsetting companies offer to sort the logistics of planting trees. Probably charging a fee for the privilege. You could short circuit the process and directly plant some trees. There are plenty of suitable places in the Dales and fenced off potholes or areas safe from grazing offer a good opportunity. You need to find the right native tree species and you might need to return to check that you have been successful. Planting an acorn, rowan pip or a willow cutting is remarkably easy.
 

Fjell

Well-known member
The plane is going anyway.

The only realistic way to reduce aviation emissions is to have fewer flights, which means fewer people flying, which leads to the obvious conclusion to the question. I find the sociology/psychology of “offsetting” fascinating - why would you not just do the offsetting anyway? What are you waiting for?

I think the UK emits about 5 tonnes per person per year. Which if I get the maths means you should be planting about 250 trees a year per person. You’ll need a good spade. I would think a good bog would be better.
 

Fjell

Well-known member
Building many more of these would seem more likely to make a difference.

We are now switching to burning a lot of LNG, the emissions from which are much much higher than gas from fields nearby (mainly due to compression). I find it very strange people are glueing themselves to roads in order to massively increase emissions for decades to come. Can they not do the maths?

 

cap n chris

Well-known member
If you don't reproduce you can have whatever carbon footprint you like and be a self-righteous sanctimonious saint compared to people with kids. It's a licence to do as you flippin please and well done to all involved.

 

Fjell

Well-known member
I think your native Brit has a reproduction rate of 1.5, so they are steadily breeding themselves out of existence. No worries on that score. Although I know one family who put six kids through public school, draw your own conclusions as to the future makeup of the old barky’s crew.
 

ChrisJC

Well-known member
TBH carbon offsetting any leisure activity is strange IMHO. If you care, don't do the activity.

I think we will find the whole carbon offsetting industry is a gigantic greenwashing exercise which is really selling sanctimony rather than saving the planet.

Chris.
 

aricooperdavis

Moderator
TBH carbon offsetting any leisure activity is strange IMHO. If you care, don't do the activity.
There's a little bit more nuance to it than that though, isn't there? All activities (leisure or not) are going to have a negative impact on something. That might be greenhouse gas emissions, or erosion, or the opportunity cost of not going litter picking instead. You have to decide what's an acceptable cost for you, and if carbon offsetting helps you feel better about that decision then so be it.

As you say, though, you have to be extremely careful that you're actually carbon offsetting, and not lining the pockets of someone who is planting trees on land that would have had trees planted on them regardless of your input. You can do a lot of research into different schemes, codes of conduct etc., but I quite like the Woodland Trust's approach of simultaneously preserving existing woodland and supporting the establishment of new woodland. And of course these schemes are all in the UK, which is nice.
 

Flotsam

Active member
Sorry, but I think some sense of proportion needs to be applied.

Most 'Green' measures are ineffective nonsense anyway and as already indicated where there is fanaticism and pseudo science the con men move in.
 
I just Googled "is carbon offsetting a con". It's probably an issue when the top three stories are from the Guardian, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

If I were to give money to anyone, it would be a charity like Woodland Trust rather than a company.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I appreciate the 'childless' point of view on a personal level but I was thinking more of a whole expedition basis.

I tried one of those companies who offer to offset your carbon, they calculated the figure and told me it would cost $50pp. All I seemed to get was a certificate. I was a bit suspicious that, as has been said above, it is just green washing and somebody capitalising on the whole 'climate' issue.

I still feel an expedition ought to do something and I like the tree planting idea Mr Dinwiddy. Any other ideas or experiences along those lines?
 

Fjell

Well-known member
The carbon footprint for a return flight to KL is over 3t. That’s not $50 I would warrant, and if it is I want to acquire it and flog it as carbon credits.

By the time you have flown to Miri and messed about a bit I suspect you have just doubled your annual carbon footprint for a UK resident. So that’s your 250 trees.
 
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