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little green actors
January 7, 2005 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm Brad Pitt and I'm a carbon-neutral movie star. "Pitt has just given $10,000 to have a forest planted in his name in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Its trees will absorb carbon dioxide, compensating for the tonnes that the star has been responsible for releasing into the atmosphere: burning aviation fuel as he jets around the world, using up petrol in his limousines and running air-conditioning in hotel rooms."
posted by Hands of Manos (48 comments total)

 
What a nice idea. I wonder how many trees an average person would have to plant to be carbon neutral?
posted by unreason at 6:28 AM on January 7, 2005


Future Forests offers the chance for you to be carbon neutral yourself. They're UK based I think, but that doesn't really matter I as long as you get what you pay for - global problem/solutions and all that. They have other celebrities too!
Tree for all is a charity encouraging children to get involved in tree planting in the UK.

unreason - you can find out using the carbon caculator at future forests site.
posted by biffa at 6:32 AM on January 7, 2005


I bet his megawatt smile could power a medium-size city alone. Save a forest, plant a tree. Save an ecosystem, plant a forest.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:33 AM on January 7, 2005


Oh I wanna thank whoever pushed him on this good train, it seems like a fine idea.

Additionally about other natural forests, how is brad pitt supposed to compensate me for all the times girls I liked disregarded me because of I look like him -before- the operation ?!
posted by elpapacito at 6:42 AM on January 7, 2005


Hopefully the 600 trees my wife and I have planted on our ground will make us carbon neutral !
posted by rfs at 6:44 AM on January 7, 2005


rfs - you rock, my friend.
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:00 AM on January 7, 2005


Wow! Mr Pitt needs 10,000 trees to ease his conscience, whereas - according to the Future Forests calculator - my pathetic life requires just 7 per year! Is this a good thing?
posted by MrMustard at 7:09 AM on January 7, 2005


$10k is chumpchange for the guy.
posted by crunchland at 7:22 AM on January 7, 2005


Thanks, Crunch.
I'm ten tress a year, Mustard. I can't help but feel slightly superior to you.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 7:37 AM on January 7, 2005


Dave Matthews Band did the same thing a few years ago, to offset the CO2 emitted by their tour buses. A whole forest has been planted down the road from me here, just outside of Charlottesville.
posted by waldo at 7:56 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm so eco-friendly, I have to chop down a few trees weekly just to stay balanced.
posted by ColdChef at 7:59 AM on January 7, 2005


Why couldn't he get into something worthwhile like Scientology of Kabbalism like every other Hollywood celebrity? ;)
posted by sourwookie at 7:59 AM on January 7, 2005


That was funnier in my head.
posted by ColdChef at 8:00 AM on January 7, 2005


Yeah, I'm pleased that he's thinking about these issues and that he did something to neutralize his effects on the environment, but is this the kind of mentality that we want to reward? Planting trees is not a solution to the problem of carbon pollution: that's like saying that the death penalty is a solution to murder. Also, I doubt that we have enough room on this planet to make up for everybody's carbon pollution by planting trees.
posted by crazy finger at 8:03 AM on January 7, 2005


ColdChef: It was pretty funny on my screen too.
dougunderscorenelso: The fact I can type 'trees' without error gives me a rather hollow feeling of satisfaction.
posted by MrMustard at 8:08 AM on January 7, 2005


Wait a minute... if these are for profit companies, and the contract states that your trees stay in the ground for 99 years, what happens on that last year? Do they harvest the trees? What a great scheme, you pay them to buy land and plant trees, with them making a profit. Then, they don't really pay much to maintain the forest, but they reap the rewards when they harvest the forest one day.
posted by crazy finger at 8:09 AM on January 7, 2005


Seems like an excellent idea, and Bhutan certainly one of the better countries out there to host this idea.
posted by Vaska at 8:10 AM on January 7, 2005


Coldchef,

It would have been better to have started with "yo mama is so eco-friendly"

(but a nod to your cleverness. I thought it was funny)
posted by Hands of Manos at 8:13 AM on January 7, 2005


Mustard: Curse you, clumsy fingers! Sense of superiority: Shattered!
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:16 AM on January 7, 2005


Wait, how does one get six trees? No car, no flights?

I need about 16-20 trees and I consider myself pretty friendly on the electricity in general. However, I do fly multiple times yearly. And I'll probably be flying more in the future.
posted by u.n. owen at 8:25 AM on January 7, 2005


"And the woods we create are open, so the public can enjoy them." From the article.

In my experience, herein lies the rub. Firewood is hard to come by in most himalayan areas; most of the very poor burn cow dung for cooking and warmth. If the forests are truly open, it is likely that the wood therein will be poached for firewood, and even for house-building. Which would be a shame.

(I use a small potted plant. Ah, not really.)
posted by metaculpa at 8:26 AM on January 7, 2005


You can help be carbon neutral by replacing your incandescent lights with florescents as they burn out (you won't notice the difference after a couple hours, and the florescents last years longer and use much less power). Driving a hybrid is good, too -- I used to get 26 mpg in my pickup and now get about 45-50 depending on whether my commute is easy or hard that month.

We also heat with wood, though it is because we like the kind of warmth we get not for environmental reasons. In fact, I am not sure if we are better with the wood than using gas since our woodstove kicks out smoke and we took down trees to burn. Anyone know?
posted by nathanrudy at 8:26 AM on January 7, 2005


I only require 10 trees. And not on an annually repeating basis. In 20 years doug will need 200 trees! And I will still need only the 10.

Also, I don't like it when people attach meaninless and wrong "per"s to numbers. At my workplace there is an initiative to conserve 10% of the electricity consumed per square foot. Naturally, I don't take this too seriously.
posted by recursive at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2005


Confidential to doug: just tell him you were trying to derail with a discussion of hair plugs.
posted by cortex at 8:39 AM on January 7, 2005


You can also calculate your CO2 with a more comprehensive quiz at The One Tonne Challenge . I suspect this calculater doesn't have as much incentive to overestimate your consumption.

I throw out a little over two tonnes a year on the One Tonne challenge and 2 trees (flights not included) according to the Future Forests calculator. I'm not that environmentally conscious, I'm just too broke to consume much.
posted by duck at 8:40 AM on January 7, 2005


You can help be carbon neutral by replacing your incandescent lights with florescents as they burn out

If you burrow a little deeper on the Future Forests site one of the alternatives is to purchase fluorescent lights for people elsewhere to use.
posted by biffa at 8:44 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm sorry, but planting forest won't make you carbon neutral, no matter if you planted a forest as big as the world. Forests are carbon neutral in themselves., thus it makes no difference on the CO2-balance whether you plant forest or not. When a tree dies and either decomposes or burns it releases the same amount of CO2 that it absorbed while it lived. To change the CO2 balance you have to prevent decomposition, for example by fossilising it: Turn it to coal.
posted by cx at 8:47 AM on January 7, 2005


u.n. owen: I only got 7 trees and I'm guessing that's largely because I don't drive. Flights would also be a big factor. I put myself down for one thinking about this year, but if I'd been filling it in with last year in mind... I'd have been charged 18 trees because I was living in the States and did a fair bit of flying. Time to plant a couple of oaks in the back garden!

On preview: cx told me not to bother.
posted by MrMustard at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm sorry, but planting forest won't make you carbon neutral, no matter if you planted a forest as big as the world. Forests are carbon neutral in themselves., thus it makes no difference on the CO2-balance whether you plant forest or not. When a tree dies and either decomposes or burns it releases the same amount of CO2 that it absorbed while it lived. To change the CO2 balance you have to prevent decomposition, for example by fossilising it: Turn it to coal.

No, you have to develop something that doesn't have a forest on it to something that has a forest on it on a permanent basis. Keeping the forest going into the future means you can lock in the carbon.

From their website: Future Forests' science is undertaken by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, co-authors of forestry documents for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. Trees take up carbon through photosynthesis and release it through respiration. The annual carbon balance depends on a number of factors including the age of the forest, rate of growth and climatic conditions. Over long periods however, new woodland will accumulate carbon in the tree biomass. There is a risk that this could be released if the woodland is damaged by fire, wind or disease - to meet this risk, Future Forests buffers a proportion of its carbon offset through forestry by purchasing emissions reduction from technology projects. Almost 50% of the dry weight of a tree is carbon. To read more about the science behind the sequestration by forestry click here.
posted by biffa at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2005


Let's not forget Joe Strummer, who helped get Future Forests off the ground.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2005


The Levellers did the world's first carbon neutral tour in 1988 and various artists have followed on with carbon neutral CD releases & the like.

There's a pub in Brighton that runs carbon neutral too.
posted by i_cola at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2005


Of course planting trees is a good thing, particularly in deforested regions, but I have a little more respect for DiCaprio, who also tries to glamorize responsible choices like hybrid vehicles. You can't really be neutral without looking at the bigger picture.

Now if we could only get him on the bus...
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:37 AM on January 7, 2005


So if a coast to coast flight equals 2 trees is that for each person aboard? 300 passengers = 600 trees for one flight? I'm dubious.
posted by OpinioNate at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2005


Next thing you know, there will be a company asking us to fertilize ourselves with animal sperm so that we can be karma-neutral from all the poultry, pork and beef we eat.
posted by mic stand at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2005


Previously discussed here.
posted by homunculus at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2005


DiCaprio also starred in that Beach movie that decimated the park location it was filmed in so let's be careful picking role models.
posted by Mitheral at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2005


decimated the park location it was filmed in

They reduced it by one-tenth?

I realize that decimate has become popularly repurposed to mean "slaughtered" or "soundly defeated" but I still don't know what you mean by it here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2005


Cortex, that's my escape route for EVERY social faux pas.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2005


But...but...what if Brad's trees are contributing to pollution?
posted by DakotaPaul at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2005


We also heat with wood, though it is because we like the kind of warmth we get not for environmental reasons. In fact, I am not sure if we are better with the wood than using gas since our woodstove kicks out smoke and we took down trees to burn. Anyone know?

Burning wood rather than gas or oil is good because the resource is renewable. It is essentially solar energy -- sunshine trapped by photosynthesis into the tree's tissue is released as heat in your home, so there's no net increase in heat at the earth's surface (discounting the time the energy is stored in the tree). An efficient wood stove (like a pellet stove) releases mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide. The latter is a factor in global warming, but in the case of burning wood, no more so than if the tree had died in the forest and decomposed there. By contrast, burning coal, gas or oil releases CO2 that would otherwise have remained trapped underground.
posted by beagle at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2005


I think we can all agree that as far as evironmental issues are concerned, they're all hypocrites to some degree, especially when they fly around to promote their movies or sets destroy pristine environments. If they want to put their face on a cause like planting trees and it makes them feel better, then more power to them. It seems the only celebrity that isn't a hypocrite is Ed Begley, Jr.. WWEBJD?
posted by Arch Stanton at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2005


A more complete answer to the woodstove question here (though from a woodstove manufacturer with an obvious point of view).
posted by beagle at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2005


" Oh I wanna thank whoever pushed him on this good train, it seems like a fine idea."

I don't think anyone's pushing Mr. Pitt to do this. He seems to be genuine about his conservationism. I've heard mention of other such things he's doing, and he drives a Prius as his daily car, apparently - I've seen him in it.

Of course, he could probably reduce his footprint a lot more, seeing as he lives in a compound in the Hollywood Hills somewhere...
posted by zoogleplex at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2005


By decimate I mean pay 9 million baht in bribes to illegally alter a Thai national park beach. Alterations include levelling sand dunes, digging up native plants and replacing them with non native palm trees. Despite restoration efforts the beach has now basically washed away. High tide is 5m inland and the dunes continue to erode.

To sum up decimate=gone.

I wouldn't be nailing Decaprio to the cross over this if it wasn't for the fact he went to bat for Fox after the destruction was publicized.
posted by Mitheral at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2005


But Jennifer Anniston left him anyway.
posted by fixedgear at 6:03 PM on January 7, 2005


I'm surprised at how sad that makes me to hear they've separated.
posted by ColdChef at 2:12 AM on January 8, 2005


I'm surprised at how sad that makes me to hear they've separated.

yes and no
posted by matteo at 9:28 AM on January 10, 2005


If the idea of being carbon netural is interesting, consider MyClimate, a non-profit started by some students from ETH Zurich. At MyClimate, you can enter the starting and end points for a flight, and buy a "ticket," the cost of which is donated to groups that organize carbon-neutral activities.
posted by whatzit at 6:41 PM on January 28, 2005


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