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Dancing With Whales
We've all heard about whalewatching from boats or shore, and a few companies are now offering the possibility of actually swimming and snorkeling with whales in the wild. Is this a good thing? Some whalewatching operators in the Kingdom of Tonga,...
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A Simple Way To Offset the Environmental Effects of Driving Your Car

Additional Reading

We all love our cars. They give us the freedom to come and
go as we please, to get to work, to visit family and
friends, to go shopping...on our own schedule. But
automobiles also effect the environment by polluting the air
we breathe and, in the larger scope of life, by creating
unusual climate changes.

But there is a simple thing you can do to offset the
negative environmental effects of driving your car, and It
costs less than $100 a year.

HOW DRIVING YOUR CAR AFFECTS THE ENVIRONMENT

If you drive a standard American automobile, your car emits
about 12,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year.
That's three times the weight of the car! If you drive an
SUV, your car emits around 20,000 pounds of CO2 each year.

CO2 is a major "greenhouse gas." Back around 1800, before
there were cars and industry, the CO2-concentration in the
air was about 280 ppm (1 ppm CO2= one molecule of CO2 per
one million molecules of air). Today, as the result of human
activities, the CO2-concentration in the air is about 370
ppm, and increasing by 1.7 ppm every year. And we're adding
CO2 faster than it decomposes. Every molecule of CO2 we add
to the atmosphere stays there for about 100 years.

Many scientists are warning that this increase in CO2 is
raising the average temperature of the planet, known as the
"greenhouse effect." The widely respected WorldWatch
Institute has warned that severe climate change could
include major shifts in weather patterns and agricultural
zones, resulting in droughts and floods. A wide range of
human and natural systems could be disrupted, displacing
long-standing economic and social systems as well as
established ecosystems.

Twenty percent of the carbon dioxide released into the
atmosphere every year comes from driving cars. That is a
significant percentage. This won't be changed by
international protocols or government regulations. But each
one of us can make a difference by reducing our own CO2
emissions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS PRODUCED BY DRIVING
YOUR CAR

CO2 emissions come primarily from the burning of fossil
fuels for energy. When you drive your car, use public
transportation, use electricity in your home or at work, or
fly on an airplane, you are contributing CO2 emissions into
the air. Most consumer products you buy are made with energy
from burning fossil fuels that produce CO2.

But there are also other ways to make energy. Renewable
energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass are called
"clean" energy sources because they don't produce CO2.

Today, various products are available that allow you to
offset the CO2 you produce by purchasing an equivalent
amount of energy from renewable sources that do not produce
CO2. This CO2-free energy flows into a local or national
grid, eliminating the need to burn fossil fuels that would
create the same amount of CO2. So while your car is still
adding CO2 to the atmosphere, your purchase of renewable
energy is subtracting the same amount of CO2 that would have
gone into the atmosphere someplace else.

TerraPass is one organization that has a program to purchase
renewable energy to offset the CO2 produced by your car. You
simply choose the TerraPass that corresponds to the type of
car and number of miles you drive. Terra Pass guarantees the
money from your membership will result in a reduction of
carbon dioxide that counterbalances the pollution from your
car through the purchase of renewable energy certificates.
You get a TerraPass decal for your car and the good feeling
that you are doing something to keep our climate as nature
intended.

My husband and I each purchased a TerraPass for our cars. A
TerraPass for my husband's efficient Geo Metro was only
$39.95/year and my TerraPass for my Honda Del Sol was
$49.95/year. A small price to pay to do something real and
practical to protect our beautiful planet.

About the Author

Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra
Lynn Dadd has been a leading consumer advocate for products
and lifestyle choices that are better for health and the
environment since 1982. Visit her website at
http://www.dld123.com to learn more about her new book Home
Safe Home, to sign up for her free email newsletters, and to
browse 100s of links to 1000s of nontoxic, natural and
earthwise products.

 

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