Don’t Fly. Burn wood. Make charcoal. Sail ships.

Being single, I sometimes read a lot of online profiles, and many are on a site that eschews an environmentally aware status, that is, they are prominently “green.” This is a good thing, but I’m getting increasingly annoyed and baffled by many of the comments I read, sometimes plowed into one profile.

Here is a quote from one – “open minded and curious about the world. You have a global perspective. You have the desire to explore the world’s beauty, people and mysteries. I’ve been to some exotic locales, I have traveled for pleasure, for education and to volunteer. My most recent trip was to study in Italy. I spent about 3 weeks exploring Cambodia and Vietnam. I try to be as green as possible, but there is always room for improvement.”

What’s included in the cultured, curious, aware, intelligent, and environmentally aware individual is lifestyle and habit. Assuming the mode of transportation in this profile to be jet, their CO2 footprint just went way up. Likely anyway. I’m quoting from, Tufts University, Office of Sustainability – “Jet fuel and gasoline for cars create about the same amount of CO2 emissions per gallon (around 20 lbs per gallon). Cars have fuel efficiencies anywhere between 10 mpg (a large SUV) to 60 mpg (a hybrid engine car like the Honda Insight). That means, if you travel alone in your SUV, you’ll create more emissions than if you had taken an airplane. If you drive to your destination with your whole family in your small Honda, the emissions per person will be much lower than if your whole family had taken the plane.” Nothing green is simple.

Except perhaps, wind assisted tanker transport (above illustration).

A major offset to CO2 pollution is the amount of carbon on the ground and in the ground. Plant a tree seed, a tree grows, and as it grows it absorbs carbon, turning it into wood. Wood – is turned into furniture, houses, some of it lies on the ground to rot into CO2. Some waste wood – saw dust, chips and the like – are turned into compressed pellets for new technology wood pellet heaters.

For a given region, up until the point where demand exceeds supply, using scrap wood this way may be good CO2 behavior. But when demand for scrap wood in a given region exceeds supply, wood that ordinarily would go to furniture or home construction gets diverted for heat and is more quickly turned into CO2. This is bad CO2 behavior.

Biochar – is wood charcoal put into the ground. Why? Because it is a good biological medium (things grow well within the pores), and it is stable, a stable form of carbon banking (retains carbon from the air in a stable, non-toxic form), in the ground. How do you make charcoal? Cook it, in high heat. Which of course, uses fuel.

This can be a waste of heat-creating-CO2, unless you perform this operation is a way that burns efficiently and utilizes the heat.

Not so easy to reduce CO2. Except maybe with a wind-assited tanker.