Friday, January 25, 2008

Carb Lover

Dedicated to the speedy recovery of “Tinok ben Akiva” - a newborn baby in critical condition.

Why do we homo sapiens types love carbon so much?

This week on Tubishvat (Tuesday) I made my annual foraging trip to Whole Foods Market to see what kinds of exotic fruits I could find to wow the family with.

First I loaded up the staples: pineapple, coconut, blood oranges, giant grapefruit, kiwi, persimmon, kumquat. I searched in vain for dragon fruit which I've only seen on the West Coast (from Vietnam).

But I did find two fairly exotic species. One looked and smelled like a deformed citron, called “buddha’s hand”.

The other looked like a really ugly grapefruit, and is indeed a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine:
What would you call it?

It makes you think that this is definitely not what God intended...

Indeed, it is called "ugli". I kid you not. Even has it's own website.

I kid you not.

The kids helped create a centerpiece on the table of all of these fruits, and then we sat down to taste everything. It’s been a year since they saw a coconut, and they had all forgotten what it tasted like! Just a little reminder what a wonderful world we live in with such bountiful goodness. Safe to try at home!

And if you didn’t have a chance to do this on Tuesday, it’s obviously never too late.

What's the most amazing fruit that you ever ate?

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Speaking of this wonderful world... once a year or so, I ask people to move a step closer to making our lives carbon-neutral. Every mile you drive or fly accounts for some more greenhouse gasses.

If you have not yet got on this bandwagon, time to catch up.

If you have gotten on the bandwagon, the next step is to tell your friends about it. Feel free to plagiarize this email – you don’t even need to credit me. Let’s just get the job done.

And if you are not planting trees to replace the tons of carbon you are dumping into the biosphere (especially when you fly), your excuse is ...?

One excuse may be that the various websites for calculating tree-offset equivalents vary widely in their estimates. Here are some examples:

Some sample equivalents:

One-way flight from NY-SF => 0.5 – 17.5 tons CO2 --- that’s not a small discrepancy!

50 miles of weekly driving with a medium-size car => 0.9-1.3 tons CO2 per year — that range is a little more reasonable

The problem with the flights is that airplanes vary in their efficiency. But everyone seems to agree that they take the CO2 booby prize hands-down.

What they do seem to agree on is the approximate number of trees to plant to compensate share of the pollution. The magic ratio seems to be about 5 trees per ton of CO2, or about 10 trees per transcontinental round-trip.

Another excuse for not planting trees, those in the know tell me, is that buying carbon credits is evidently more effective than planting trees, because these lead to reduced emissions.

A site that will let you calculate and purchase carbon credits (they also have a carbon calculator including a wedding calculator)
Another site that calculates your total household carbon footprint.
This one will calculate and plant trees for you.
A site for planting trees in Israel.

Speaking of Israel, it has been suggested that I blog about the amazing Land of Israel this week. Stay tuned for next week’s installment, 10 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Israel.

In the meantime, consider asking each person in your family and at your table, old and young, to take a non-binding pledge to make one new change next week for the planet. It could be a simple as making sure those lights get turned off when you leave a room. I myself recently started walking to work.

Even if that change is to send a link to this blog to your friends, we’re in the end-game here – every inch counts.

Shabbat Shalom.

Travel/speaking schedule:
January 28 – Baltimore - “Judaism and Islam”
February 5-7 – San Francisco and Los Angeles
February 18-20 – Chicago and Deerfield

For details, send an email!

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