Fly to Hawaii to be green

Posted on March 4, 2008


I got this forwarded to me today:

Be Green, Go To Kokua

The ‘BCO Morning Show wants to know how you are working to save the planet, and if you’re picked we’ll send you to see Jack Johnson at Red Rocks and you could be going to see him play at the Kokua Festival in Hawaii!

Send us a description of what you’re doing to be green… have you taken recycling to the next level? Do you make your own biodiesel? Does your roof have more solar panels than a space station? Let us know! If Bret interviews you on the air about how you’ve changed your life to better the environment, we’ll be sending you to Red Rocks to see Jack Johnson. Then, this Friday we will be selecting one green ‘BCO Listener and sending them to Hawaii to see Jack Johnson at the Kokua Festival! (Site)

Um, excuse me? You can’t really be sending the winner of a green contest to Hawaii, can you?

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a lot more to being green than a low-carbon emission lifestyle. Recycling isn’t all about saving energy out of smelting iron, it’s also about water quality and landfills and mining. Biodiesel can be about more than turning food into fuel – it can also be about turning food wastes that would otherwise be dumped in sewage treatment facilities or landfills into fuel. And solar panels, while fundamentally about energy, are also about reducing mountain-top mining and helping asthmatic people breath clean air.

But aircraft are huge polluters, with transoceanic flights (arguably) being the worst offenders of the lot. Planes emit nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that turn into asthma-causing ground-level ozone. Some of nitrogen oxides, especially nitrous oxide, are powerful greenhouse gases in their own right, and the total carbon emissions of aircraft are estimated to be about 5% of the global total.

To put the carbon emission problem into perspective, flying to Honolulu, Hawaii from Denver, Colorado will produce 5,238 lbs of carbon dioxide for two people, round trip (using TerraPass’ flight estimation calculator). For comparison, that’s roughly a month and a half of heating for my home, or over six months of driving my non-hybrid, manual transmission Honda Civic.

And this is just the flight – how much does Jack Johnson’s concert in Hawaii cost in terms of energy, carbon emissions, non-recycled paper and plastic cups, etc.?

All of this means that, depending on how “green” the contest winner actually is, the best thing he or she could to in order to be green is turn down the trip to Hawaii.

Thanks to Jentifred for the heads-up.

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