During his recuperation he began to consider climate change, which was just beginning to emerge as an environmental issue, mulling over natural processes such as carbon sequestration, and working on ways of calculating the impact made by humanity in terms of CO2 emissions. He inspired the owner of the Castle Cary pet shop, Maureen, who asked him to plant a tree to offset the carbon footprint of her pet supplies shop, effectively trading the first tonne of carbon for £3 in 1988. Last year (2014) carbon traded $142 billion, predicted to rise to $1 trillion by 2020. Maureen’s tree, a Whitebeam, has matured into a fine specimen standing in a field above Castle Cary train station. Morrell thought that the name carbon sequestration did not communicate the process well and it was at this point he came up with the term – Carbon Neutral.
Shortly afterwards Morrell made the acquaintance of Rodney Bickerstaffe, leader of the trade union Unison, while on a train journey. Bickerstaffe was taken with the idea and promised to share it with his union members via their newsletter. A few weeks later Morrell received a cheque in the post from a docker in Hull, asking him to plant a tree for him to offset his carbon footprint. More cheques arrived and when the stream turned into a flood Morrell established a company called The Reforestation Britain Campaign, thereby becoming director of arguably the first ever business to address the consequences of global warming. Initially Morrell wanted to establish the campaign as a charity, but the Charities Commission objected that by planting trees and not harvesting them the campaign would effectively be giving away its assets in contradiction of CC rules.
Dan Morrell coined the phrase Carbon Neutral which is now in the Oxford English Dictionary. Not bad for a Dyslexic!
Photo courtesy: Clive Arrowsmith