Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Carbon Offsets.

First let's define what a carbon offset is. According to "Carbon offsets are the process of reducing a ton of carbon dioxide emissions in another location for the emissions you cause in your home, office, commute, travel, or other activities that use energy and cause emissions."

Tree planting is the most common, renewable energy, energy conservation and methane capture offsets have now become increasingly popular.

When you are purchase carbon offsets, you are essentially paying someone else to mitigate carbon emissions somewhere else.

Tony Blankley, while making fun of Al Gore, gives this analogy:

Let's suppose that Al Gore goes to an Italian restaurant and eats a loaf of garlic bread, a plate of lasagna, a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, an extra-large pizza with seven toppings, a couple bottles of Chianti and a large assortment of pastries. As a result, he puts on 10 pounds. But he is deeply concerned that mankind is getting too fat. So he pays 10 peasants in Asia $10 each to eat nothing for a week. Although they are already thin, by starving themselves for a week, they each lose a pound. As a result, after a week, mankind is weight neutral. Al Gore weighs 10 pounds more, 10 Asians weigh 10 pounds less -- and Al Gore is given another Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in keeping mankind's waistline in check.

Of course, this example is not quite fair to Gore because that imagined humanitarianism actually costs him cash money. In the real carbon offset business, he looks forward to being paid for directing other carbon consumers to invest in carbon neutral projects. Although when Gore personally is using carbon, as when he flies in a carbon-belching Gulfstream, one of his companies would pay some other fella not to fly or plant a tree or do something to offset Gore's carbon belching.

It is too easy to make fun of this. But try and google the news on carbon offsets and you will find almost no negative reporting from the MSM. Yet I did find this in looking around:

In 2007, the Financial Times conducted an investigation of the voluntary (unregulated) carbon offsets industry. Among the findings they reported were:

Widespread instances of people and organizations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts. via Wikipedia

So here is a whole movement and industry that claims we can buy "offsets" to lessen our carbon footprint and there seems to be no real evidence it does so. And the mainstream media seems to have no interest in this whatsoever. Go figure