- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 28, 2007

What’s your carbon footprint? Eric Carlson can help you reduce it to zero.

As the founder of the Carbonfund, a nonprofit environmental organization in Silver Spring, Mr. Carlson wants to help people and companies address their carbon addiction.

“A carbon footprint is the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions that result from your daily life,” Mr. Carlson said. “This includes your home-energy use, your car [and] air travel, and your consumption of food, clothes, etcetera.”

Mr. Carlson estimates that the average American’s carbon footprint equals 23 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The Carbonfund helps people reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and funds environmental efforts that counteract emissions they cannot control.

The organization’s Web site, www.carbonfund.org, explains that greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and warm the planet. The site also says the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activity.

Scientists do not agree on the causes of climate change, however, and some of them rejected popular global-warming theories in congressional hearings organized in September by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican.

“What we can do is educate people about their role in global warming,” Mr. Carlson said. “Our organization gives them solutions they can take to fight global warming.”

The Carbonfund encourages people to donate money to support climate-friendly projects that offset human carbon emissions.

“It costs the average person $99 a year to reduce their entire carbon footprint,” Mr. Carlson said.

Donors can decide whether they want to support wind energy, solar energy, reforestation or energy-efficiency programs.

“Our goal is to drive the price of renewable energy to below the price of fuel,” Mr. Carlson said. “We want to change the economics and make clean technology more cost-effective than dirty technology.”

Mr. Carlson said the idea for the Carbonfund began after his first daughter was born.

“I started thinking more about the future,” he said. Specifically, he thought about his children’s future and the world they were going to live in.

“If you look at recent weather events like Hurricane Katrina and how this winter is hottest on record, there is more than enough evidence that the world’s climate is shifting,” Mr. Carlson said.

Mr. Carlson wanted to limit human influences on climate change, so he and his wife, Lesley, founded the Carbonfund in 2003.

Previously, he worked as a program developer at D&R; International, an energy-efficiency consulting firm in Silver Spring.

“I spend most of my day on the phone with partners talking about their carbon footprint and things they can do to reduce it,” Mr. Carlson said. “I love getting people energized and mobilized about doing something.”

“Eric takes this all very personally,” said Malin Jennings, senior vice president of Fleishman-Hillard Financial Communications, Carbonfund’s public-relations firm. “It’s his campaign to give options for future generations.”

Mr. Carlson graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Takoma, Wash., in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

He lives in Silver Spring with his wife and their two children.

— Bryce Baschuk

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