Known for their memorable tunes and rich harmonies, the Dixie Chicks are singing a new song that conservationists hope will catch on. A third of the way through their 50-city, 2006 Accidents and Accusations concert tour, the group has announced that it will partner with Conservation International (CI) to offset the carbon footprint associated with the tour. The Chicks join Pearl Jam, Coldplay, and other bands in demonstrating that they are accepting responsibility for their contributions to climate change, and taking specific steps to do something about it.
Turning Dollars Into Healthy Acres
Before the Chicks launched their tour in July, they estimated how many tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses would be generated by their trucks, busses, airline flights, hotel rooms, and concert venues – even the fans driving to and from the shows. The band chose to offset its emissions by donating an amount based on $10 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), with the money helping to protect 832,000 acres of the Makira tropical rainforest in Madagascar.
The Makira Forest Project is a joint initiative by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the government of Madagascar, and CI. Protecting forests is important because trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide; preventing them from being burned reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere.
Using a similar formula for its current world tour, Pearl Jam recently contributed $50,000 to restore and protect a degraded tropical forest in Ecuador. This year, CI is neutralizing 12,000 metric tons of CO2 from electricity usage, travel, and paper consumption in its Washington D.C. headquarters; the associated offset payments will go to the Makira project.
It's Not Just About Fossil Fuels
With the burning and clearing of forests and other ecosystems making up about 16 percent of human-caused CO2 and other harmful emissions annually, preventing forest loss is an important and effective method of reducing the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses. The Dixie Chicks' contribution will not only help prevent the burning of the rainforests and protect our global climate, but it will help improve the livelihoods of local communities, and prevent the loss of endangered lemurs and other rare plant and animal species in Madagascar.
"We want to set an example for our fans and for other bands," the group said in a statement. "Reducing your carbon footprint is something everyone can do. Together, we can make a difference and help restore and preserve one of the world’s unique ecosystems."
Follow The Chicks
CI and the Dixie Chicks are encouraging fans to gauge their own carbon footprint using CI's online carbon calculator, and consider offsetting their emissions by donating to the Makira project or other initiatives. Individuals can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by walking, cycling, or using public transportation instead of driving; buying a fuel efficient vehicle; reducing home energy use by installing timed thermostats and compact fluorescent light bulbs; and using alternative forms of transportation instead of relying on air travel, often the largest component of a person's yearly carbon footprint.
"Asking their fans to join the band's efforts in reducing their carbon footprint helps bring attention to the vital issue of climate change," says Michael Totten, CI's senior director for climate and water. "It also demonstrates the simple, tangible actions all of us can take to reduce climate change, support communities, and protect our environment."