To people who take the threat of global warming personally, driving a car that spews heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can be a guilt trip.
But to help atone for that environmental sin, some drivers are turning to groups on the Internet that offer pain-free ways to assuage their guilt while promoting clean energy.
It involves buying something known as a carbon offset: a relatively inexpensive way to stimulate the production of clean electricity. Just go to one of several carbon-offset Web sites, calculate the amount of carbon dioxide produced when you drive, fly or otherwise burn fossil fuels, and then buy an offset that pays for an equivalent amount of clean energy.
Of course, emissions could be reduced the old-fashioned way -- by flying less, turning off the air-conditioning or buying a more fuel-efficient car. But that would probably require some sacrifice and perhaps even a change in lifestyle. Instead, carbon-offset programs allow individuals to skip the sacrifice and simply pay for the right to pollute.
Web sites like terrapass.com, carbonfund.org, nativeenergy.com and self.org focus on automobile emissions because drivers can become aware of their carbon footprint every time they fill up. (NY Times)
Something that involves money but no self-sacrifice or change in lifestyle -- the American way!