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Introducing Erik Blachford, the new TerraPass CEO

A note from Tom: I’m pleased to introduce Erik Blachford, the newest addition to the TerraPass team. Erik is a seasoned CEO (in this case, the “E” stands for executive) who will help take TerraPass through the next phase of our growth.

Erik is the former CEO of Expedia, although he left the company several years ago, long before Expedia’s partnership with TerraPass. I first met Erik in February and have been impressed with his authenticity, humility and desire to help us change the world for the better. But don’t take my word for it — let’s hear Erik kick it off with his first entry on TerraBlog.

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I first heard about TerraPass last fall, when a friend from Expedia let me know people could now buy carbon offsets to go with their plane tickets. It sounded like a great idea, so I checked it out. I clicked through for more information, discovered TerraPass…and here I am!

OK, it wasn’t quite that simple. I met the team a few months later, in February, and since then have learned a lot more about the company and the carbon offset markets.

I’ve liked what I’ve learned. TerraPass is building a grassroots community of members who want to do something about climate change. And in the absence of a government solution to the problem, that strikes me as exactly the right way to go about having a positive impact. So instead of just buying TerraPass offsets to balance out my own carbon footprint, I’m joining the company to help spread the word about TerraPass to the hundreds of thousands of other people who could be taking responsibility for their own personal carbon emissions.

The way I see it, the goal of the voluntary carbon offset market is to achieve the greatest possible reduction in carbon emissions in the shortest possible period of time. If we at TerraPass are playing our part, that means growing the company on every level: letting more people know they can use the site to calculate their personal carbon impact, giving them more advice on what they can do to reduce it through conservation, and helping more people to balance out what isn’t practical to reduce.

Back in Internet pre-history, at the dawn of online travel, nobody knew you could even check airline ticket prices online, much less book tickets. Now almost half of all travel is booked online. I think we’re at the beginning of another explosion in consumer awareness, this time in the voluntary carbon markets. That means most people will eventually be able to tell you their carbon footprint in the same way that today they can tell you their weight (in both cases there may be a little incentive to undercount). Picking low-carbon alternatives in day to day life will seem as natural as picking low-fat or organic alternatives at the grocery store. And offsetting will become a habit as firmly ingrained as household recycling (now practiced by 35% of households nationwide).

I’ve never worked as a full time environmentalist, though I’ve supported some of the national environmental organizations in the US and Canada. So this is somewhat new territory for me. But I grew up outdoors, taking canoe trips deep into the lakes and woods of my home province of Quebec, and guiding cycling trips all over Europe. Now I’ve got three small children of my own who are getting ready to embrace the wider world. I know it’s a cliché, but like so many others, I ache at the thought that my kids or their kids might not be able to experience the world the way I have. Joining TerraPass is the most powerful way I can help preserve their natural inheritance.

My first few months here are mostly going to be spent expanding the team here in San Francisco (check out our job listings) and learning the ins and outs of the business. Tom and Adam and the team are enjoying concocting ways for me to reduce my footprint, which I’ll likely report on here as I ramp up.

Here’s my question for the broader TerraPass community: what would be your first priority in this job? I’ll look for answers in comments below.

Thank you all for your attention and business and commitment to date. I’m delighted to be on board.

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