offset \ˈȯf-ˌset\ noun

a force or influence that makes an opposing force ineffective or less effective

Carbon footprint and transport

More often than not I find myself preoccupied with environmental and social concerns. I am not an activist but I acknowledge the fact that we do not live in a vacuum made out of our own self-interest.

We live in a constant state of negotiation with our environment and the influence it exerts over our lives. How we handle that negotiation influences our well-being in the short and long run.

Now, the setting in which I grew up in did little to foster awareness of such concerns - occasionally being warned not to litter was pretty much the extent of it. After all, my parents were born in the fifties and those were very different times.

In the past century, however, we have faced radical changes and taking care of the environment must be an integral part of our everyday lives if we want our civilization to exist tomorrow. We are in the middle of the sixth great extinction and global biodiversity outlook from 2010 states that not one of the countries has fully met any of the goals to preserve biodiversity. The Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, and still we're destroying it.

Disregard for the environment is not a fixed trait of human behaviour. We are not immutable. We learn and adopt new habits all the time and taking steps to take care of the environment does not require a complete lifestyle reshuffle to fit this singular pursuit.

We need to shake off the present bias and take some responsibility for our actions. To paraphrase Chris Hadfield: as a civilization we can do a lot of damage, and it can be seen, but we can also do a lot of good. Even though we should have done it before, the least we can do is start now.

It seems impossible that an individual can make a meaningful contribution, but large-scale change is often enough an emergent property of a society. I'm doing my part as best as I can.

For instance, I'm reducing my carbon footprint. The Keeling curve explains that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has been rising steadily contributing to the greenhouse effect.

I don't have a driver's license. At first it was simply because I never had the money, but seeing how it hasn't posed such a significant inconvenience I have since decided to not become a driver. There are a lot of combustible fuel cars as is and there are alternatives around the corner like the battery powered Tesla cars and Google's foray into driverless cars. That said, owning a car is very expensive.

When I lived further away from work, I used to cycle. A number of cities have introduced bike renting services, which has increased the affordability and availability of this type of transport.

If available, public transportation is a good alternative as well, one which would be even more effective if the number of personal vehicles was lower.

Fortunately for me, today I can afford the simplest workaround of living close to work - it saves me time, keeps me in shape and it even saves me money in the long run.

While I know most of these things concern only the developed world, it's still better than nothing. Since the topic is extensive, I'll continue in the next post. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the channels in the footer.