WMRC Carbon Offsets for WMRC travel and field work

The UC Davis "2011 Odyssey" field trip donated $57! Your donations paid for a substantial portion of a solar powered "critical needs" battery- inverter system installed in Summer 2010. Thank you!

The first carbon offsets donation was for $139 and the second, $155! Thank you UC Davis "2009 and 2010 Odyssey" field trips.


Carbon offsets: a brief summary:

Travel, including field work and stays at WMRC facilities, is a large contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and global climate change. Some travelers consider buying "carbon offsets" to "offset" the CO2 generated by their trip. If you buy carbon offsets, you forgo reducing your own emissions (i.e. you still travel) but in exchange you pay someone to reduce their emissions in your stead. In other words, by contributing money to alternative energy (i.e. non-CO2 producing systems), you can "prevent" an equivalent amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, amortized over the lifetime of the system. The Carbon Offset Wikipedia page is a good source for obtaining more information about this option.

One way to calculate the carbon footprint of your trip and field work is to calculate the fuel used in travel (often the largest component of the overall footprint, particularly if you drive or fly), the utilities consumption while staying at the station, and the (generally smaller) carbon footprint of the things you consume (i.e. food) while at the station. These consumption figures are then converted into metric tons of CO2 fossil fuel released into the atmosphere (that's right, one mT = 2200 pounds). Once you have calculated the "carbon footprint" in mT CO2 you then have the option of "offsetting" this amount by donating $$ to alternative, non-CO2 producing systems (e.g. wind, solar, etc). In principle, you can "prevent" an equivalent amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, amortized over the expected lifetime of the equipment, thus offsetting the CO2 released by your trip. The trick is to calculate the cost per metric ton of building and operating alternative energy systems. Current calculations for one (primarily wind) program are that $14 will offset 1 mT of CO2 (NativeEnergy) . Other options may be found on the web sites linked on this page, along with details on how the figures are calculated.

While the sites listed below are deserving of your support, we suggest an alternative: that you contribute to our own WMRC in-house energy program - the White Mountain Energy Project. We have already constructed and are operating the Barcroft Field Station using a custom-designed off-grid energy system (see WMEP pages ), with solar generation as the primary electricity input and propane for building heat and backup electricity. While fully functional, this project remains unfinished until we can install a key energy-saving component - a 10,000 gallon thermal energy storage tank. This tank will enable us to capture waste heat from the backup generator and use it to heat the buildings, saving approximately 2000 gallons of propane each year. If you would like to donate your carbon offsets to the White Mountain Energy Project, please contact our office at 760-873-4344.

We hope to be able to provide better information on energy usage while at WMRC, but for now please see an approximate Carbon Footprint Estimate produced by the UC Davis "Odyssey" ecology field trip team which may provide some idea of the figures involved.


WMRC Pace Lab roof covered in solar panels. See WMEP page for more info
(click on photo to enlarge)