For $170, I could wash off my hands clean, and keep going with my life as it is. Drying our clothes in the dryer, taking endless showers, flying to far away places, driving whenever I feel like it, buying food and all the other stuff with no restraint, swimming in the privacy of my own pool, reading our two daily newspapers, ordering takeout three times a week, letting the junk mail come in every day, use the big oven for small dishes, print on one side of the paper, not feel a bit of discomfort. I could, $170, such an easy, painless solution to my environmental predicament. I could even end the Carbon Conscious Project right there. I could, and I don’t want to.
A quote from President Sarkozy, in this week’s Paris Match, got me thinking. “Le sort de chacun est lie a celui de tous.” (The destiny of each individual is linked to the destiny of all people). This is where the concept of moral obligation and green citizenry comes into play. I feel obligated towards my fellow human beings to do at least my fair share of work towards a more sustainable planet. That I have some financial means, does not absolve me from taking a hard look at my personal indulgences, and taking some steps to curb them. Green Guru and I just had an argument about this. Green Guru thinks, because he spent $30,000 putting up a solar installation on top of our house, and he is working on some solar deals in Hawaii, he should not have to worry about his flying whenever he feels like it. I disagree. I don’t think it works that way.
The whole discussions needs to shift away from accounting, to human values of respect, community, responsibility, and fairness. More selfishly, I also know I would feel very wrong if I bought my way out. And I don’t want to pay the price of guilt eating at me. My green conscience won’t let me. I know full well when I am taking more than my fair share. That much, I have learned from the past six months, spent observing my not so green actions, and learning about what is too much, and what is not. The $170 in carbon offsets? I will probably end up paying them anyway. It’s good, it’s just not enough.