I heartily agree that carbon neutral, while it's not the be all and end all of being better stewards of our planet, is a ridiculously important concept for more people to wrap their heads around and applaud Oxford's decision (it beats the heck out of one of the runner-ups, ghostriding). The reason the carbon neutral concept is so valuable is because it demands we calculate how our actions create carbon dioxide emissions, because you can't neutralize all your CO2 without knowing how much you help create.
If you'd like to see all of AutoblogGreen's stories on carbon neutralizing, click on the "Carbon Offset" link in the middle column on this page. You can read the press release from New Oxford, and the Word of the Year runner-ups, after the jump.
The New Oxford American Dictionary Announces the Word of the Year: 'Carbon Neutral'
NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- What do Al Gore, Rupert Murdoch, and the Rolling Stones have in common? They are all advocates of being "carbon neutral," the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2006.
Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions (your "carbon footprint"), reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in "green" technologies such as solar and wind power.
The rise of carbon neutral reflects the growing importance of the green movement in the United States. It's more than a trend, it's a movement, which is why the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary have declared carbon neutral the word of the year for 2006. It will be added to the next update of the dictionary, due in early 2007.
Runners-up for the 2006 Word of the Year include:
CSA (community-supported agriculture): a system where individual consumers purchase a season's worth of agricultural products grown on a small, usually family-owned farm.
DRM (digital rights management): hardware or software that controls access and use of digital data, access and uses that may be disapproved of by rights owners, but that are not necessarily illegal.
dwarf planet: a new designation for planetlike objects [such as Pluto] that are round and orbit the sun, but have not cleared other objects from their orbits.
elbow bump: a greeting in which two people touch elbows, recommended by the World Health Organization as an alternative to the handshake in order to reduce the spread of germs.
Fishapod: a humorous name for a newly discovered fossil [Tiktaalik roseae] that has features of both fish and land mammals and as such is considered an evolutionary link between the two.
Funner: an informal/nonstandard comparative of fun.
Ghostriding: the practice of exiting a moving vehicle and dancing either beside it, or on the hood or roof, while the vehicle is in motion.
Islamofascism: a controversial term equating some modern Islamic movements with the European fascist movements of the early twentieth century.
Pregaming: consuming alcoholic beverages before attending a sporting event or party, especially one where alcohol may be limited or banned.
Erin McKean, editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary, said "The increasing use of the word carbon neutral reflects not just the greening of our culture, but the greening of our language. When you see first graders trying to make their classrooms carbon neutral, you know the word has become mainstream."
Source: Oxford University Press