Solana Beach takes steps to reduce carbon footprint
In an effort to offset its greenhouse gas emissions, the city of Solana Beach is teaming with Del Mar-based Nature and Culture International to promote a program to neutralize the city’s carbon footprint.
In the coming weeks, a link on the Solana Beach Web site will go to a “carbon footprint calculator,” where residents and businesses can figure out how much they contribute to environmental degradation. Participants can then elect to offset their emissions by buying acreage, at a tax-deductible $50 per acre, in an Ecuadorian preserve.
The goal for the project is to raise $100,000, enough money to buy 4 square miles — equivalent to the size of Solana Beach.
“The real opportunity is right now, because if we hustle on this, it’s possible by the end of the year we could have a substantial portion reserved by the city of Solana Beach,” said NCI Chairman Ivan Gayler, who founded the organization in 1997.
Gayler said the amount of carbon saved by buying 1 acre is equivalent to the rate of destruction. Further, he said, each American is responsible for about 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, while an acre offsets 32 tons. Scientific data links carbon dioxide to global warming, climate change and ozone deterioration.
“An acre comes with the possibility of 60 to 70 to 80 tree species, hundreds of different bird species, thousands of insect species, dozens of ant species in one tree, and a high number of reptile species,” Gayler said.
Left unsold, farmers in the Ecuadorian forest often cut down trees and sell their wood cheaply to timber companies. Also, much of the area has been converted to corn crops, used to create ethanol for biofuels. The areas are preserved and protected by private local and volunteer guards once the property is bought by NCI.
No public money will be contributed to the program, as the agreement was merely to encourage Solana Beach residents and businesses to participate. A carbon footprint for most private individuals will be offset by a $50 purchase, but Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said she hopes Solana Beach residents will take the time to figure out their own.
“It’s the first of its kind, and we’re very pleased with the innovation of this,” she said. “It gives community members, residents and business members a way to do even more than they already have done in their own lives and practices.”
To figure out your carbon footprint, go to www.natureandculture.org/livingforest/calculator1.php.
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