Monday, November 26, 2007

Tree-Hugging Football

The Gators beat the "Noles, but they couldn't beat Al Gore.

Next Saturday’s big football game between the University of Florida and Florida State University has an environmental cost that can be measured in acres and years. That would be about 16 acres of forest, allowed to grow for 10 years, to absorb the carbon emissions generated by a single game.

The University of Florida has vowed to make the Gators-Seminoles game carbon-neutral — and it will be, thanks to two landowning donors and the activist organization Environmental Defense. The donors, Jim and Winston Bailey, have set aside 100 acres of pasture to be reforested for carbon sequestration. Environmental Defense will pay the Baileys a fair-market price for managing 16 of those acres over the next decade. That price is still being determined.

The rest of the acreage may be purchased by the university or other organizations for other offset programs. Part of the point of the project is to show that forests have value other than as pulp for paper, says Dedee DeLongpré, sustainability director at the University of Florida.

About 88,000 fans will travel from near and far to Gainesville on Saturday. Officials at the University of Florida estimate that all of that travel and tailgating, along with operating the stadium, will generate more than 1,650 tons of carbon emissions.

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