Bleats

Carbon Offsets Are More Than A Way To Relieve Your Crippling Travel Guilt

If you need to fly, at least be neutral about it.

Unless you have a very not-correct view on how science works you’d be aware that the planet is in the midst of an unfolding climate crisis, and that our lifestyles are largely to blame for it.

One huge issue is air miles because – according to one particularly jarring 2018 study by the University of Sydney – planes contribute about the same amount of emissions as the European Union (eight per cent of the total apiece), thanks in part to the fact they’re being pumping straight into the high atmosphere.

Australians, of course, don’t have easy alternatives to flying since our nation is a) girt by sea and b) contains relatively few people, clumped into large cities a long way from one another. So when we have to travel, we do it disproportionately by plane.

Pictured: travelling disproportionately by plane.

So chances are you guiltily tick that “buy carbon offset” button most of the airline websites offer these days (and if not, you can do it yourself at MyClimate.org via their helpful calculator). Even Prince Harry feels guilty about his air miles, to the point of bending the truth on how many chartered flights he takes.

But you might not be across how it all works.

So here’s the basic version of how carbon offsets work: you do something which releases carbon into the atmosphere, like taking a plane trip, and pay money in order to get someone to sequester the carbon into something which absorbs carbon, like planting a tree.

The advantage of trees is that they live a long time and that carbon gets locked in there, making things like bark and trunk and… well, the tree.

(That, incidentally, is why lawns don’t absorb carbon: they do, as long as you never cut the grass because once you do, it decomposes and releases all the carbon into the air.)

But that’s not all: as HowStuffWorks helpfully explains, “Carbon offsets fund projects like forest planting, conversion to renewable energy sources or GHG collection and sequestration. Offsets support both large-scale and community projects. A single company might restore a forest in Uganda and support the construction of efficient stoves in Honduran villages.” Although they also note that forests are still the most favoured method, not least because it’s a visible thing that can be pointed at.

Of course, the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to… well, reduce your carbon footprint.

Greenhouse gases not released at all are definitely preferable for the planet than gases released but offset, in the same way that a cancer not contracted is preferable to one contracted but treated.

And of course, there are other risks to air travel.

But if you’ve made the changes you can realistically make, then purchasing carbon offsets is… well, the least you can do?

Don't Try To Recreate 'Love, Actually' In Singapore Unless You Really Want To Be Arrested

We didn't even know international 'Love, Actually' crime was a thing.

Romantic gestures are well and good, but it’s best not to hang out at the departure gates in Singapore to do that whole everyone-at-the-end-of Love, Actually thing if you’re not getting a plane.

Now, we assume that you already know not to run headlong through security to pledge your love to someone like that kid did, because if you did that you’d be in prison being denied access to phones and computers.

“Wait for the verdict, kid.”

But if you were thinking “hey, I’ll go through security like a normal person, pledge my love and so on, and then not actually get on a plane” then be advised that you’ll still get arrested for doing that in Singapore.

And to be fair, recreating Love, Actually is to be avoided under most circumstances, especially if you’re macking on your friend’s partner with cue cards. That’s just… no. No no no.

This. Don’t do this.

It turns out that Changi airport – home of the mighty butterfly dome! – has laws which govern access to the terminals. And in a nutshell, it’s that if you’re not getting on a plane, you can’t go gate-side.

And this even applies if you buy a ticket without intending to fly, as one 27 year old man recently learned to his cost when he did exactly that in order to farewell his wife at the gate, and was then pinged for misuse of a boarding pass when he didn’t subsequently fly anywhere.

It’s no small potatoes either: breaching the Infrastructure Protection Act can cost you and fined up to S$20,000 ($21,225.20 in current Australian coinage) or spend up to two years in prison.

It’s unclear what the penalty for being a British PM firing a staff member and then pashing them at a school concert is, but clearly it should also be incredibly harsh, and without parole.

ARREST THESE PEOPLE.

In any case, the answer is clear: when in Singapore, don’t recreate Love, Actually. Although the law is less clear on re-enactments of, say, 2 Fast 2 Furious so why not give that a shot?

Naming Products Is A World Of Big Wins And Hilarious Mistakes

Bite the wax tadpole!

You have to feel for international brands. There they are, just hoping to bring a little joy to the world and profit to themselves with some hot new products, and it suddenly turns out that their ignorance of international swears means that they’ve made some hilarious mistakes.

Some brands nail it, of course. Entire nations call tissues Kleenex, vacuum cleaners Hoovers, photocopiers Xerox machines and… um, call Band-Aids Band-Aids. What even would you call those things?

Onesies. Jetskis. Jacuzzis. Dumpsters. Even Breathalysers are an actual brand name, despite being used as a generic product description.

And then there are the fails.

One of the most famous is more amusing than actually a failure per se, which is that in written Chinese the signs which (phonetically) make up “Coca-Cola” translate as several baffling phrases, of which “bite the wax tadpole” is the greatest.

Excelsior.

It’s slightly better than the fate of KFC, whose slogan “it’s finger-lickin’ good!” translated into Chinese as “eat your fingers off!” And Coke’s rival Pepsi had a similar situation where their “Brings you back to life” slogan was rendered as “Brings You Back from the Grave.”

But they’re not not the only hilarious mistakes that products have made.

The Pinto was a doomed car made by Ford, which suffered a notable recall in the US. But that was after they’d tried marketing it in Brazil without realising that in the local Portuguese dialect the term meant “tiny dick”.

It’s not limited to English speaking companies either: Iranian company Paxam decided to export their laundry soap whose brand name used the Farsi word for snow. Oddly enough, there was little western enthusiasm for using “Barf Soap.”

So, if you’re a linguist with a particularly firm grasp of local insults, start marketing yourself as a brand consultant for products. You’ll make a goddamn mint.

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