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global warming

Travel Unravelled: Carbon Guilt

B747 Sunrise

Snuckles - Fotolia.com

Q: We’re flying to Thailand and are concerned about gas emissions. Who do we contact about carbon offsets?

— Terry Reynolds, Longview, AB

A: Carbon guilt is a common symptom of international travel, especially when you’re flying to far-flung destinations such as Thailand. A Boeing 747 uses approximately 4 litres (1 gallon) of fuel per minute, so for a 21-hour flight to Thailand, you’re looking at more than 300,000 liters (72,000 gallons). When you divide that by passenger, the numbers are a lot less scary, but it doesn’t change the fact that vacations account for a large chunk of greenhouse gas emissions.

One easy way to restore your karma is to buy a carbon offset. The idea is that polluters buy “credits” that wind farms, solar installations and other renewable energy projects have earned. Each party offsets the other’s environmental impact, and the money you pay funds sustainable energy initiatives.

There are several sites you can use, including Planetair and Terrapass, which calculate your emissions and facilitate the money transfer. You can also use these sites to calculate your emissions, and then make a donation to organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute, the Sierra Club and the Clean Calgary Association. There are also many international organizations, particularly myclimate.

For detailed information on carbon offsets, click here

Columbia Icefield: Big but Getting Smaller


Columbia Icefield courtesy Athatbasca Glacier Icewalks

The Columbia Icefield covers 215 sq km (83 sq mi) and is up to 365 m (1200 ft) deep—it’s the largest accumulation of ice in the Rockies. Icefield meltwaters feed the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans (plus people and crops) making it one of two triple continental divides in the world (the other is in Siberia). But this popular attraction is getting smaller due to global warming. Athabasca Glacier markers note that the ice recedes up to 10 m (33 ft) annually. So take an Ice Explorer ride or icewalk while you can. — JN