Carbon offsetting seemed quite an ambiguous term to me once. If it is to you, no problems at all, at the end of this post, you can explain this to any two year old around you.
It is a known fact that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has been higher than ever recorded. (This is not a fact that only scientist should worry about, since we all take in the same air, it is important to care about the quality of the air around us).
Sit up and let’s get this simplified, so you can maybe sound smart enough to the next person you will be having a climate conversation with, or achieve the purpose of this blog post, which is to understand and practise carbon offsetting.
Basic elementary science teaches us that humans take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, while the plants around us take up that carbon dioxide and convert them to oxygen creating a balance in the atmosphere.
Life is all about balance right?
Unfortunately, we have altered that beautifully planned balance and released far more carbon dioxide that can be balanced by plants by burning fuels which release high amounts of carbon dioxide. But we can offset the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by either reducing the existing amounts or avoiding the production of more. You see where the expression is gotten from? You know, carbon isn’t really a bad guy, it has it’s place in the earth cycle, we just seem to have too much of it.
There are many approaches to carbon offsetting and I will list a few.
- Reduce the amount of fossil fuel you burn. So take a train or a bus instead of driving your car. If you live in Lagos like I do, where public transport is not a pleasant experience, you can consider hitching a ride, or driving a colleague to work so they do not have to drive their own car. That way, there are less amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by reducing the number of cars on the road.
- Reduce the amount of fossil fuel actually being mined. There is a school of thought that encourages corporations to mine only a third of a reserve. In simple terms, if a reserve contains 10million barrels of crude oil, only 2/3 of that should be mined and the rest left in the ground.
- Energy efficiency, which can be done by using energy efficient appliances so you use less energy in carrying out activities. Or cogeneration, for example you and a neighbour can share a generator instead of having one each. (Yes, this is realistic in Lagos without getting into a fight)
- Buying carbon offset, oh well, if you consider yourself too busy, but you have some money, you can buy carbon offsets and your money goes into certified and verified carbon reduction projects.
- The simplest of them all is planting. As explained, the more plants are around us, the more carbon dioxide is absorbed and more oxygen released.
Is carbon offsetting still an ambiguous term? Do you think you need to make more commitment to offsetting carbon?
I hope this encourages you to plant a tree today or at the very least, have a plant on your desk.
You need the earth, please save it.