Escape Adventures has set a benchmark for all other outfitters around the world. We have become the first carbon neutral outfitter through an all new combination of environmentally sound practices.
What does it mean to be "Carbon Neutral"?
Recently, the media has been filled with reports of increased "global warming" and threatening "climate changes". As a result, many businesses have been publicizing their efforts to become "carbon neutral". But what does this all mean? Where have these buzz words come from, and what is the science behind all the hype?
We hope to help you understand more about this worldwide issue, and explain more about what we are doing to help.
What are climate change and global warming, and how are they related?
Global warming refers to an increase in average global temperatures, which in turn causes climate change. Climate change refers to changes in seasonal temperature, precipitation, wind, and humidity for a given area. Climate change can involve cooling or warming.
Temperature readings taken around the world in recent decades, and scientific studies of tree rings, corals, and ice cores, show that average global temperatures have risen since the industrial revolution began, with increases accelerating over the past few decades. The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that most of the increase is due to human economic activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. These activities contribute to a build-up in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases in Earth's atmosphere.
What are greenhouse gases and why is carbon dioxide the biggest threat?
Our atmosphere is made up of gases which act like a "blanket" draped around the planet. Some of these gases-such as CO2, water vapor, and methane-absorb heat, reducing the amount that escapes to space, and increasing global temperatures. This is what is called the "greenhouse effect," and these gases are often referred to as "greenhouse gases."
Without this process, the temperature of Earth's atmosphere would average about 30 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) colder than it is today, making it difficult for Earth to sustain life as we know it. However, if this blanket were to become too "thick," with too many gases trapping too much heat, Earth would be uninhabitable. In the atmosphere of Venus, for example, a buildup of carbon dioxide has led to a broiling temperature of 500 degrees Celsius.
What role does human activity play in the current global warming trend?
Human influence began in earnest with the start of the industrial revolution, around 1750. Carbon dioxide is released when we burn fossil fuels to produce electricity; heat our homes with oil, coal or gas; drive our cars; or switch on our natural gas stoves for cooking. Burning these fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas - substantially augment the natural occurrence of CO2 in the atmosphere.
CO2 isn't the only culprit; however CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas due to the sheer volume released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are 34 percent higher today than they were at the onset of the industrial revolution in 1750-higher than at any time in the last 400,000 years.
So then what does it mean to be carbon neutral?
Some companies choose to not actually reduce their carbon emissions, but instead purchase carbon offsets (often referred to as Greentags). A carbon offset zeros out (offsets) all or part of the carbon dioxide emissions of a party, by reducing the emissions -- or increasing the carbon dioxide absorption -- of another party. This reduces net greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of combating global warming.
Other companies actually curb the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere. At the production and manufacturing level, for example, companies can save energy and other resources by designing products with fewer materials and less packaging, and by making new products out of recycled materials.
Companies can commit to using energy-efficient office equipment or fixtures and use recycled materials, which require less energy to produce. Some businesses have already committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing energy from renewable sources, and by choosing fleets of low emission vehicles. Businesses can also provide benefits that encourage employees to use public transportation, and facilitate telecommuting.
So how has Escape Adventures become carbon neutral?
Through a combination of efforts, we are committed to being carbon neutral in 2007. Whenever possible, we have chosen to ACTUALLY reduce our carbon emissions. In other cases, we also purchase greentags to offset the emissions we have little control over. Below is a summary of our efforts:
- We are currently the only the outfitter in America that uses support vehicles powered by vegetable oil. Our diesel engine vehicles can run off the clean burning and naturally renewable oil of plants. The emissions created are only a fraction of what gasoline would produce. Additionally, the oil we use is waste oil gathered from restaurants that would otherwise be sent to landfills. Finally, any gas engine vehicles that we still have in service, have been offset with greentags.
- We make every effort to use recycled materials and our offices are either run off solar power or are offset with greentags. Additionally, we recycle as much as we can both on tour and in our bike shops and offices.
- We have instituted a "ride to work" program at our Las Vegas location and if our guides need to travel to a tour area, we offset the air travel carbon emissions by prepaying for greentags and specifically try and plant trees for each flight.