Burning the Smallest Candle...Or More Accurately, Putting Out the Smallest Fire

Most of us recognize that rising temperatures around the planet are the responsibility of no single person, action, or industry. These temperature increases have been generated primarily by the burning of fossil fuels and the release of carbon long held underground, and this burning has taken place as a result of decades of simply living our lives according to the customs of our time and place in the world. Every piece of plastic we use, every mile we drive, every bite of meat we eat and every piece of food and garbage we throw away have collectively contributed to the crisis we’re facing right now. In just one example, as you may have heard in recent news, the size of the famous Pacific “garbage gyre” is larger than we previously imagined-- so large (twice the size of Texas) that it’s become the stuff of nightmares and a genuine source of anxiety for many of us. And since we can’t turn back the clock or undo any of these things, the path forward often seems unclear.

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But here’s one simple way to take a huge step in the right direction: cancel two flights on your agenda for the year ahead. Even one will make a difference.

If you can’t cancel a flight, try to fly non-stop, since landing and taking off increase fuel usage.

Canceling a single flight can come close to doubling the benefits you’ll contribute during one year of responsible carbon actions like skipping meat and taking public transportation. 

According to this breakdown of the benefits, one round-trip flight can generate about 20 percent, or one fifth, of the emissions generated by an average car during an average year.

Think about it. Your choice to skip one distant event—or find alternative transportation—during 2018 can generate a huge carbon offset that have a lasting impact on your personal climate change meter. If you happen to be planning an event that will require travel on the part of some or all of your participants, and you hold your event in a location that reduces air travel needs for even one participant, you’ll be making a measurable difference. Now imagine that offset multiplied by the number of friends of family who join you in this simple endeavor. Let’s move forward together!