Radiative Forcing Key Concept in Airline Carbon Offset Program from CarbonFund.org
Posted Dec 01 2008 10:14am
In a few weeks, I will venture to the frozen north of my home state, Maine, to
attend my sister’s wedding. It is sure to be a joyous time for all. jetBlue will
be my airline of choice because of its competitive fares, extended legroom coach
seats and non-stop service between Orlando and the largest city in Maine,
In preparing for the flight, I examined my options for a carbon credit so that
the net contribution to global warming of flying more than 1,000 miles each way
will be a net zero. Since jetBlue has partnered with CarbonFund.org, I knew that
I would like what I saw when I visited the special page on CarbonFund.org to
offset my trip. I was very pleasantly surprised and that’s no easy feat for
someone who has lived carbon-neutral since 2005.
If you have read my blog for any time, you know that I just loveCarbonFund.org. This very fine organization achieves much. In fact, one of
its claims to fame is that it now offsets more carbon than some nations produce
each year. Good for them! However, even though superb offerings from
TerraPass.com and others in the transportation sector make it easy for travelers
to offset their driving and flying, a key aspect of such products was missing
until now, radiative forcing.
“Radiative what?” you may ask. The concept is quite simple, even if we seldom
ponder it. Aircraft spend the bulk of their time aloft at cruising altitude,
roughly 7 miles above the surface. Up there, the effect of carbon emissions is
more pronounced because the carbon particles have less chance to dissipate
before floating to the top of the atmosphere. Worse still, because one product
of the combustion of jet fuel is water, clouds are formed artificially, clouds
laced with carbon particles and greenhouse gases, a noxious brew.
The ultimate result is that their contribution to global warming is roughly
double that of driving even when comparing carbon emissions pound for pound
because the dumping occurs so close to the sensitive layers of the atmosphere
which are damaged by the carbon. Hence, those of us who travel by air need to
break ourselves of a habit. When we purchase carbon credits, we must use a
website which gives us the option of factoring in radiative forcing.
Worried that it’s too complicated versus using a convenient service such as
TerraPass.com? It’s not. You merely need to adjust for the fact that you can
purchase credits which include the extra damage of radiative forcing through the
jetBlue offset page of CarbonFund.org irrespective of the airline you fly. Just
check the box labeled radiative forcing and you’re all set.
And the cost? If I had used TerraPass.com for my trip to Maine, I would have
paid roughly $10 to offset the roundtrip flight. By including radiative forcing,
the price more than doubled but I will sleep easy on the flight knowing that
both the carbon and its altitude have been offset.
To learn more and to employ an accurate offset of your next flight, visit