One of the tools in the Creation Care toolbox is the carbon offset. A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. People may buy them to offset air travel or part of their total greenhouse gas emissions as a household. Some airlines offer them to offset the significant emissions associated with flying. I went to the website Terrapass and found out that for traveling from Boston to San Francisco and back, my estimated emissions would be 3,487 pounds of CO2 and an offset would cost $17.40.
You may ask, is this effective? According to a study by Stanford University of California mandated program limiting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, they are effective because they’ve required forest owners to change their practices as part of making credits available and polluting companies have had to reduce emissions because the pool of available credits is limited. There have been side benefits in preserving habitat for endangered species. In addition, when you purchase an offset, it may be tax deductible when the offset is purchased from a nonprofit.
- Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We know that when we drive our gas-fueled cars, buy food transported from far away places, take a flight to an exotic destination or when we use electricity from the grid, CO2 is generated. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and rising greenhouse gas levels are a driving factor in climate change. According to EPA statistics, transportation accounted for 29% of 2017 greenhouse gas emissions, electricity 28%, industry 22% and commercial and residential sources including heating 12%. Electricity may be generated using fossil fuels or alternative energies such as wind or solar. According to its own reports the majority of Eversource’s electricity for New England is generated using fossil fuels. On a household basis we can estimate how much greenhouse gas we generate from all our activities and this is our carbon footprint. Reducing our carbon footprints as individuals and households, as a church community and as part of a global effort is one of our goals.
The Diocese of Western Massachusetts is participating in an online pilot program to estimate a household’s carbon footprint and actions to reduce it. Go to www.sustainislandhome.org to register your household for this program. The Green Team is interested in your input about this program so please get back to us.
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, and other chemicals that are used to protect plants from diseases or make growing them more economical. While much more research needs to be done to truly understand the role these chemicals play in overall health when ingested, existing research shouldn’t be swept under the rug. “It’s really important for people to pay attention to this,” says Nneka Leiba, MPH, director of the Environmental Working Group’s healthy living science program.
For instance, a 2012 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting pesticides in children as much as possible due to an association between pesticide ingestion and brain development risks during pregnancy and early childhood.
Consuming a diet rich in organic foods, i.e., including fewer pesticides, has been linked to decreased cancer risk. A 2018 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed the diets of nearly 70,000 French adults and found that those who ate organic foods more often had 25 percent less cancers than those who didn’t eat organic. The cancers measured included non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, breast, prostate, colorectal and skin cancers. JAMA Internal Medicine is a peer-reviewed medical journal published online weekly and in print monthly by the American Medical Association. This study is obviously being discussed so you may want to look up discussion online for a broad perspective.
-Ella Ingraham for the Green Team