20.2.14

Selfishness offsetting

Do you remember the greenwashing fad of carbon offsetting from about 10 years ago? If you bought a plane ticket, the airline would plant 10 trees or something to offset the carbon emissions from the flight. Total greenwashing, but planting more trees is probably not a bad thing (I haven't actually researched this assumption). Anyway, I'm about to do something similar to offset my selfishness.

Now, this is not just about offsetting my normal daily selfishness. That's pretty bad just generally given my acute narcissism. Nope. This is about offsetting my exceptional selfishness in signing up for an ultra marathon in November 2014.

Let's get one thing clear. Long distance running is a very selfish hobby. It means hours of training away from your family and friends. And, even during the event, there's not much to see as a spectator. For example if you're watching a marathon, in the best case, you might see a runner 4 or 5 times for a few seconds each time.

To compound things, not only am I signed up for the Brecon Beacons Ultra in November 2014, as part of my preparation I've also signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon in May. So my family and friends are facing an entire year of me disappearing for 3 hour runs at the weekend, me obsessing about my diet and calorie intake, me spending several hours in the gym, and me sending excessive money on kit, training fuel, travel and accommodation.

To try to reduce the impact of my selfish choices, I'm going to attempt to offset my selfishness by raising money for charity. The charity I will be supporting is Azafady.

Azafady carries out charity work in Madagascar. I've chosen Azafady for many reasons. I have personal connections to a volunteer worker. I believe that Azafadys's approach to sustainable development matches well with own personal beliefs. I also think that the Malagasy are a truly deserving cause. I am sure I will post more on this. The facts of life for the Malagasy are stark and disturbing. For example, in 2008 seven in ten Malagasy lived on less than $2 per day. Now more than nine in ten do.

The Economist World in Figures 2010 listed Madagascar's infant mortality rate as 65.2 per 1000 live births, ranking it the 35th highest infant mortaility rate in the world. Only 35% of its rural population  have access to improved water sources. Only 10% of the rural population have access to improved sanitation.

Madagascar's environment is special. Somewhere between 80-90% of the plant and animal species are endemic to the island. Environmental pressures mean that this ecosystem is under constant and accelerating
threat.

As the current stewards of Planet Earth we owe it to future generations to take better care of the world they will inherit from us. Azafady directly contributes to improving lives of the Malagasy and to protecting one of the most special places in the world.

I will be badgering you incessantly about this for the next few months. Let's do something amazing together. Let's raise a startling amount of money and make a true change to the lives of people that suffer a quality of life most of us cannot begin to imagine.

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