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December 11th, 2008
08:19 AM ET

Does a slowing economy mean more conservation? Not necessarily...

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.
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Editor’s Note: M. Sanjayan is a lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve species by “protecting the land and waters they need to survive.”

M. Sanjayan
The Nature Conservancy

This Christmas, in my family, the gifts will be thoughtful but fewer. My little niece, who becomes so inundated with presents that she starts playing with the boxes they come in out of boredom, will probably receive only a manageable amount this time around. As much as I would like to take credit for this obvious decline in over-consumption, my family has not acted purely out of self-restrain. What we couldn’t bring to do the economy has done to us.

The same has been true at work. When I log on to my organization’s carbon calculator and figure out my contributions to climate change, I generally score well (that is far less of an impact than an average family) in every category except travel. With about 22 work related trips last year, many across the country, or abroad, flying take a big chunk out of any accumulated karma I receive on savings made by walking to my office, or living in a small house, or driving a hybrid – a Prius -, or even on occasion hunting (fish, ducks, deer) my own food. But next year budget cuts have forced me to cancel about one-third of my trips – eight trips less– saving my organization about 10,000 dollars on air fare and 8,000 kg of carbon dioxide.

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Filed under: Economy • M. Sanjayan • Planet in Peril