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Committed to reducing my impact

I was emailing with a friend the other day, bemoaning the way I’ve been flying much more than I want to. Lately I’ve become a fan of the new Skype beta, which allows 3-way video. The service is good enough that I have been able to cut out some air travel, which makes me think that even if they start charging for it, as they have been saying they will, it will pay for itself in no time even before considering its positive environmental impact.

After talking up Skype, I reminded my friend that I still buy offsets for the travel I do.

“I was wondering,” he asked, “whether you still cared about that stuff.”

It stopped me in my tracks, but it’s not hard to see why he asked the question. The environmental world sure does seem to have lost some of its luster since the heady days of early 2007, when Al Gore was winning Oscars and Nobels, the IPCC was coming out with seemingly incontrovertible conclusions, and the world looked to finally be on the verge of signing a comprehensive treaty. Now we’ve got even President Obama declaring a federal climate bill to be dead for years to come.

But you know what? I do still care about this stuff. In fact, I think there’s a good argument that the voluntary carbon offset world is more important than ever. If our democracy can’t product a government capable of imposing a little environmental discipline (other than in California, that is), then it’s really up to informed citizens to act on their own, isn’t it?

I like the idea of “climate hawks,” as David Roberts puts it over at Grist.org. The idea is that a climate hawk “leans forward, wants to attack on as many fronts as possible.” I wonder how many TerraPass Footprint readers are climate hawks; I’m guessing most are. We like the idea of taking the fight directly to the projects, putting funds directly to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than waiting around for legislation to pass. Maybe we’re hawks, or maybe we’re just impatient.

And ultimately that’s what I told my friend. Yes, I still care about this stuff. In fact, I’m more committed than ever. I certainly want a solution from my government. But if I don’t get one, I’m perfectly prepared to press forward on my own, one climate hawk among many.

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