The Nomad's Guide to Sustainable Travel and Happiness

Do you know what your environmental footprint is? How do you feel about it? Are you doing your best to live and travel sustainably?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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Thomas, you are a gifted writer and thinker. Clarity, focus, brevity and fine purposes. Bravo for this fine article and the addition. I’d only interject that there are multiple shades and variations of analysis, since these topics/issues are so vast, and sink so deep into lost, forgotten or hidden history. I look in the mirror, and am careful saying this, since the mental paradigms of most folks default to debate, superficial assumption, judgement, rejection, and following whatever views are scripted, framed by PR professionals in popular media. Here are bits floating in my mind. The Big P is Pollution. It’s intentional, but also random, planned but planning concealed. CO2 is good for plants. A good gas, getting a bad rap as a frontman for toxic chemicals, CO, coal burning, petrochemical emissions, etc… Any individual’s efforts toward Permaculture anything are likely positive. Alcohol biofuel is an interesting option. Of course, petrochemical giants don’t really want it. Shrug. Lots of fun, plenty of goodness in these topics. Welcome to NomadGate members to toss in leads, links, insights, observations, anecdotes, anything to expand awareness, float their own thoughts out into this forum.

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Nice write-up, @tkrunning! :+1:
Seems like we have a very similar approach to life.
Thanks for planting the trees! :deciduous_tree: :deciduous_tree: :deciduous_tree:

Pretty comprehensive, but I would like to mention two things:

  1. It is incorrect to write “planes pollute less per kilometer”, and instead you should write “planes produce fewer emissions per kilometer”. This is because “7x the amount of emissions” from cars is not necessarily the same as “7x the amount of pollution” from cars, due to the radiative forcing effect you mention caused by emissions at higher altitude.

  2. Tree-planting projects are notoriously unsuccessful - either the trees are never planted, or they die shortly afterwards, or their environmental impact is much lower than that claimed. The evidence-based impact evaluation by the Effective Altruism organisation came up with a different recommendation to the Gold Standard. They found that the most effective charity combating climate change was Rather than planting new trees, they prevent deforestation of existing ones. They do this by helping forest villages become more sustainable, so that they either won’t sell or can protect their forest from developers. Obviously, simply not chopping down a tree is much more efficient than growing a new tree, and GWWC estimated that each dollar donated to CoolEarth is 25 times more effective than the best tree-planting charity. Ironically, they are ineligible for the Gold Standard because they are not offsetting additional emissions, they’re maintaining the natural rate of reduction.

You bring up some important points. And yes, indeed, there has been a lot of tree planting schemes that have over promised and under delivered (which is why I like Trees for the Future’s approach where the farmers have strong economic incentives to protect and maintain the trees over time). Because of the unpredictability of outcomes in tree planting projects, I also don’t use it as an offsetting program. It doesn’t make it any less important, but it’s hard to measure the exact effectiveness.

I actually came across CoolEarth during my research of the article, in particular this piece:

I’m not an expert on this, so I am not sure what to believe exactly, although that article seems to raise several important points as well.

And while we can’t know the exact effect of either effort, I think a solution will have to involve both protection of current forests as well as massive reforestation projects. Also keep in mind that trees only sequester carbon while growing, so it’s my understanding that an existing forest sequester less than one that is re-grown.

Good point. I should mention that the level of (CO2) emissions aren’t the same as warming potential in this case. I will make edits.

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Oh! Thank you very much for correcting me about Cool Earth. I did google to see if there was anything more recent than that 2016 recommendation, but that article did not come up!

Preventing deforestation is incredibly important and as an example, we noted on our company blog the story of the Dayak Iban community of Sungai Utik, Indonesia. Our own work targets rural sustainable development (especially tourism) and we linked land reform to climate change but the story holds up on its own regarding climate change. Last June the UN awarded the Dayak Iban community the Equator Prize for 2019. It recognized their dedication and success preserving their environment and way of life. The recognition supported the ability of the community to continue their work of protecting an estimated 1.31 million tons of carbon within a 9,500-hectare (almost 21,000 acres) customary forest from wealthy, vested and influential corporate interests. It illustrated how indigenous communities are actually better at this than most programs. After a 40 year campaign, Indonesia granted ownership of their lands, which includes more than 7,500 hectares of rain-forest, to the indigenous tribe. The title is held by the customary community.

Great article Thomas - Plant that tree ! :slight_smile: