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April 4, 2011


Scenes from the Maldives

by brainoids
  1. It’s an island chain of twenty six atolls in the Indian Ocean, south of India and west of Sri Lanka.
  2. We spent a few days there in March 2011.  The full photo album is here.
  3. The cool boat below is called a dhoni.
  4. My share of jet fuel to get there was comparable in energy content to my entire automobile gasoline consumption for 2010.  So much for “ecotourism”.
  5. Random fact; the Maldives have the highest divorce rate in the world.   Story available at the fairly cool TRVL magazine (iPad only).  I pretty much managed to not have this bother me during the vacation, but it is interesting.
  6. This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  7. The Six Senses Soneva Gili resort we stayed at has a fairly cool sustainable / eco-travel implementation, up to and including power-generation heat reclamation for hot water, organic gardens to stock the restaurant, and, yes, carbon offsets to cover your travel to and from the resort.   And if you click on the link above for the resort, I’ll just warn ahead, brace for impact.   In terms of cost per minute all I can say is, it’s less than a prostitute, so that’s something.  But not by much.

Carbon Counting

I’m was mildly skeptical of the “carbon offsets included” (or at least curious), so I did some number crunching to calibrate.  By my bottoms-up calculations, my share of jet fuel for the trip from Atlanta to New York to Dubai to Malé (and back) corresponds to approximately 57,237 Megajoules of energy.   Various other sites cough up different estimates of my personal share.  Sustainable Travel International pegs my offset at 7.45 tons of CO2, which would be 115,353 Megajoules, while TerraPass‘ carbon footprint calculator spits out 4796 pounds (a mere 2.18 tons of CO2, or 32,380 Megajoules).   Clearly estimating my share of jet fuel consumption is an imprecise science.
More firmly (based on my actual, metered consumption), I used:

  • about 62,187 Megajoules of energy in natural gas to heat my home from Dec-Feb 2010-2011
  • about 60,940 Megajoules of energy in electricity to power and cool my home from Jul-Dec 2010
  • about 46,977 Megajoules of energy in gasoline for an entire year of driving in 2010

Given the uncertainty range in my jet fuel estimate (32,000-115,000), I’m just going to say that my trip was about as energy intensive as any of these three.   Flying around the world turns out to be a pretty lousy thing to do if you’re conservation conscious.   In retrospect this shouldn’t be surprising … mile by mile and per capita, air travel is more efficient than automobile travel, but by comparatively small factors (2-4), rather than orders of magnitude.   So, flying halfway around the world and back ought to add up pretty quickly as an energy expense.   All of which goes to say that as eco-friendly and carbon-offsetting as Six Senses claimed to be, I strongly doubt they offset me anywhere near the full impact of my air travel there.

I’ll share more about experiments in lifelogging (hence the energy data above) in a future post.   For now, the final fun factoid is that:

I consume a barrel of oil every 8.9 days.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 4 2011

    Is it wrong to use someone else’s vacation pictures as a screen saver?

    • Apr 4 2011

      Hahaha – not even remotely! Vicarious vacationing is good!


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