Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Carbon Credits, My SUV and Guilt

It has been a non-stop barrage of guilt aimed at those of us that drive SUVs. The global warming crisis is a nightly part of the evening news menu, and each report from the global warming scientists predicts a worse outcome than the last.

As someone that thrives on being rational, and leaving the emotion behind in making decisions, I am disappointed in myself in that even I have felt the guilt associated with driving my 1999 V-8 powered Ford Expedition. With room for 8, and all-wheel drive, and 17 MPG on the highway(not an exaggeration, I assure you), I thought I would look for a new SUV. Something a bit smaller, but with better mileage. Let me tell you what a shock it was that I could spend $32,000 on a brand new SUV, like a Toyota Highlander or Nissan Murano, both with V-6 engines, with an improved fuel economy of....are you ready for this......19 mpg for the Highlander and 19 mpg for the Murano!!! (source: Consumer Reports)

The 1999 Expedition is worth only $7900. So for $24,000 I can achieve a 12% increase in fuel economy...what a deal.

The other thing we keep hearing is the need to reduce our "carbon footprint" I find this whole idea rather amusing because there is not any more or less carbon on our planet than their was 30,000 or even a million years ago. And we could all reduce our footprint to zero, and just one volcanic eruption can undo all of that reduction in mere minutes. But it feels good to think we are doing so.

In that light, I stumbled across a website that will tell me how many carbon credits I need to buy to offset my driving.

After all I had heard, I thought this would be interesting. Would I need to spend thousands? Am I really destroying the planet. So, with that in mind, I calculated how much carbon I "produced", and what the offset would be. Was I ever surprised!

For a mere $37.53 cents, I can offset my 6.82 tons of CO2 production. For just over three dollars a month I could erase all my guilt and ignore the cries of Al Gore? What a bargain.

As luck would have it, I am still looking to get a new vehicle: A Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Not for environmental reasons, but because I like all of the gadgets and technology. I wanted to see how much lower my footprint would be, so I went back to the website and did the calculation. The new footprint would be $18.76 a year for my 3.41 tons of CO2. By spending $37,000 additional dollars on a new vehicle and trading in my old, I could save the environment $19 in CO2 emissions. What a deal.

Now I know that there are some other perks with the new car. Safety is a big feature. But I can only imagine that many people are being guilted into the purchase of a new vehicle to save the environment. Yet that is not going to happen. At least they will feel better.


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