Here's the deal ...
one would "approach a kiosk resembling the self-service check-in stations used by airlines, then punch in his or her destination. The computer would calculate the carbon footprint and the cost of an investment to offset the damage. The traveler could then swipe a credit card to help save the planet. Travelers would receive a printed receipt listing the projects benefiting from their environmental largesse."
That's it. Here you are, two and a half hours early to make it through the security to board a flight, and you VOLUNTARILY walk up to a random machine in the concourse, tell it where you are going and let it run some random numbers. Presto, whizz, bang! Swipe a credit card and you're done.
You have just given money to a company for nothing. ZIP. You didn't even get porno at $5/minute. You get a receipt listing some "projects" that "benefited from your largesse." Riiiight.
I know, I know. You're "saving the planet." But, really? Are you really saving the planet?
Let's look. 3Degrees claims to be doing something good with the money but is really siphoning off some of your cash before sending it to some very large companies. Take a look at the graphic from their website:
And let's be clear here about those agricultural projects. None of them is the organic farmer down the road. She's too small of an operation to have enough bull&*$% to capture methane. Far better for you to buy her produce at the Farmers' Market - be a Localvore and support the people you think you should be supporting. Buy their stuff - it's what they want - a market, not a donation. 3Degrees is only working with the super-farms who have thousands of acres, haven't been a "family farm" for decades, and are just looking for another subsidy to not-plant corn and not-produce dairy.
I should pay for "Sustainable Forestry?" Give me a break. The timber companies have been doing this for years - they own the land and their forests are going strong because they want to get another harvest (or ten) out of them. I have no intention of giving them money just for the hell of it. I will buy their paper and wood products since that's what money is for.
Here's the best part: The kiosks "will serve an educational function. It's something interesting to do while you're killing time at the airport."
I'll give you the education right here:
You got conned.
3Degrees is proposing that you give the money to them so they can send it to the various companies. What do you get for your taxable donation to 3Degrees? You get a receipt. Oh, did you miss that? It's not tax-deductible because 3Degrees and the companies they give the money to are NOT non-profit. You are supplying income, not donating to anything.
You'd be better off giving it directly to the Appalachian Mountain Club and saving the paper.
And thereby saving the planet more efficiently.
Here's the original SFGate article:
S.F. fliers may pay their way in carbon usage
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Environmentally conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to assuage their guilt and minimize the impact of their air travel by buying certified carbon offsets at airport kiosks.
The experimental program, scheduled to start this spring, would make SFO the first airport in the nation - possibly the world - to offer fliers the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets.
"We'd like people to stop and consider the impacts of flying," said Steve McDougal, executive vice president for 3Degrees, a San Francisco firm that sells renewable-energy and carbon-reduction investments and is teaming up with the airport and the city on the project. "Obviously, people need to fly sometimes. No one expects them to stop, but they should consider taking steps to reduce their impacts."
San Francisco's Airport Commission has authorized the program, which will involve a $163,000 investment from SFO, but is still working out the details with 3Degrees. Because of that, McDougal said, he can't yet discuss specifics, such as the cost to purchase carbon offsets and what programs would benefit from travelers' purchases.
But the general idea, officials said, is that a traveler would approach a kiosk resembling the self-service check-in stations used by airlines, then punch in his or her destination. The computer would calculate the carbon footprint and the cost of an investment to offset the damage. The traveler could then swipe a credit card to help save the planet. Travelers would receive a printed receipt listing the projects benefiting from their environmental largesse.
The carbon offsets are not tax deductible, said Krista Canellakis, a 3Degrees spokeswoman.
"While the carbon offsets purchased at kiosks can't be seen or touched, they are an actual product with a specific environmental claim whose ownership is transferred at the time of purchase," she said.
Mike McCarron, airport spokesman, said the projects offered will be chosen by the mayor's office, in conjunction with 3Degrees, from a list certified by the city's Environment Department. Airport Director John Martin told the commission that projects could include renewable energy ventures in developing countries, agriculture and organic waste capture, coal mine methane capture, and sustainable forestry.
Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said a portion of each offset purchase would go to the San Francisco Carbon Fund, which supports local projects such as energy-efficiency programs and solar panel installations for low-income housing, as well as efforts to convert waste oils into biodiesel fuels.
The cost of offsets for SFO travelers is still being negotiated, McDougal said, but figures on the company's Web-based "carbon calculator" suggest that a two-hour trip uses about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, and the cost to offset that would be about $4. Offsetting a trip to Europe would cost $36.
"It's definitely not going to double your ticket or anything," he said. "It's going to end up being a small percentage of your total airfare."
Under the agreement, the airport will provide the kiosks and 3Degrees will supply the software and the certified carbon offsets being sold and will operate the program. Kiosks will be placed throughout the airport, with locations at the customer service desk in Terminal 3 and two wings of the International Terminal. 3Degrees will get 30 percent of each purchase, with the rest going to carbon-reduction projects. The agreement calls for a one-year program, with a possible extension.
"The carbon kiosks will not only reduce global warming," Ballard said, "they will serve an educational function. It's something interesting to do while you're killing time at the airport."
Given the innovative nature of the venture, airport officials said they don't expect 3Degrees will turn a profit - at least not at the outset. McDougal said it's impossible to predict how many passengers will want to make what is essentially a voluntary contribution to compensate for the impacts of their air travel. But he hopes the program takes off.
"Hopefully, it will be successful," he said. "But if we just have a lot of people stop and read the information and think about it, that's something we've accomplished."