The WWF has stepped in the middle of the ongoing controversy about carbon offsets, providing new fodder for TreeHugger's healthy, keeping-it-huggy debate on the subject. (See Wikipedia for a primer, and check out Mike's recent cautiously optimistic comments, Mark's concerns, and your responses in the comments.) Last week, with just 500 days to go until the 2008 Beijing Olympics — which is gearing up to be green and hopefully carbon neutral — WWF urged all would-be Olympians to follow in the clean-as-can-be-(while still flying)-contrails of our own Sami Grover. WWF called on athletes "to be climate winners," asking that they offset the carbon costs of their travels by donating to Gold Standard climate-change offset projects, and pointing out that 2% of the world's yearly carbon emissions come from long-distance flights. According to WWF China Country Representative Dermot O'Gorman:
This isn't a high jump. We are hurdling towards a dangerous future if we don't dramatically reduce carbon emissions. We want athletes to inspire people to make their air travels more environmentally friendly.
With some 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries and regions flying into Beijing for the Olympics, there's a lot of potential for inspiration. In this time of constant conversation about climate change, it will be interesting to see if Olympic hopefuls end up hawking carbon offsets as well as Coke. Hopefully Beijing's air quality will meet "blue sky" goals, and smoggy skies won't be the inspiration for previously unconcerned athletes to offset their flights home. ::WWF
Over the past couple of years, we've posted quite a lot about carbon offsets. For more perspective on the subject, see TH's interview of the (naturally pro) CEO of DriveNeutral and our coverage of some of the major criticisms leveled against offsets. And if you're feeling inspired to offset your carbon costs in the home, on the road, or in the air, see this lengthy list of options. For ways to offset your computer's carbon costs, see here.