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The guilty tourist

Mike Turgeon participated in our first Climate Action Fellowship course last year, and helped lead our second course at the beginning of this year.

by Mike Turgeon, Climate Action Fellow

Truth be told, I should never get on an airplane again!  That is what my inner climate voice wants me to hear, apparently.  I recently got on an airplane with my wife to Hawaii (someone was going to do it, why not me?).

Roaring down the runway, I made a firm decision to deny what was happening in that cigar-shaped metal tube–the spewing of burning jet fuel into the atmosphere.  I must admit, I’m a pretty good denier.

When I look in the mirror, I see a guy with hair that generally covers his head.  I don’t see a guy who has been going bald since the long-ago age of 25. When I pick up my grandkids, I see  how they are growing like weeds, but simultaneously I don’t believe that I am going to seed at the same pace.  Ah, denial.. I wonder how much jet fuel it takes to visit the Nile?

Snapping back to reality upon touching down at SFO, Hawaii was fading into the rearview even then, as idyllic vacations must.  So we jumped into our 40 mpg Prius for the ride back home to Santa Rosa. The next day we ran errands in our new Chevy Bolt EV, smugly certain we are on the cutting edge.  Just look at our 11 new, gleaming solar panels broadcasting to the neighbors that we are turning the corner on climate issues.

But all that is merely addition, not multiplication.  Remember the multiplication tables? Did you ever encounter anything in school so joyous, or was it just me?  No, addition, or even subtraction, is not sufficient for reducing carbon in our lives. We have to embrace multiplication.  This is why my wife and I used the carbon calculator on The Climate Center website, right there in the drop-down menu under ‘engage/offset your carbon.’  We found that for $18.50 we could each assuage our guilt, so we doubled that and donated it to CCP knowing how great a multiplier they are.

In taking this simple step, it has activated a new level of carbon awareness toward future travel.  Maybe they should rename it “guilt offsets?”


Mike Turgeon