I went to the Seattle-PI
online yesterday to check out more news about this construction crane that fell over in a suburban city outside of Seattle, and another headline caught my eye, "Feel Less Than Green? Buy Back Your Pollution
It is, of course, an article about going carbon neutral, reducing your carbon footprint, buying carbon offsets (is it okay to use those interchangably I wonder?) In any case, the article made buying carbon credits out to be a new thing that's all the rage. It also laid out some of the basic details of how the system works - determine your carbon footprint, and since you probably won't want to (or can't) do less carbon emitting things you can buy carbon credits to offset your own personal emissions. (And depending on which organization you buy them from the money gets put to different uses, mainly invested in emission reduction ventures.)
As perhaps many of you reading this know, this isn't all THAT new, but it is apparently a new concept to the population at large (another win for mainstream media coverage). The great thing about the Seattle-PI online is that you can comment on nearly every story, which they've termed "sound-offs". Now, I'm sure a great number of people who read online don't "sound-off" as do many readers of the print edition, but for those who took the time to make their opinions known, the running thread in the "sound-off" to this article was this: carbon credits are a SCAM.
As of this morning there were 47 comments - about a third of which were back-and-forth interchange comments to one of the more outspoken this-is-a-sham-global-warming-is-not-happening comments, and one comment was from TerraPass
founder Adam Stein correcting some misguided "facts" in the article, but most were skeptical of the whole carbon-offset thing.
Personally, I'm still not sold on the whole offset thing myself, mainly because of the underlying assumption that in order to "combat" global warming (thus assuming it is combattable) the sole end goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at any cost. In doing this I believe that we are losing sight of other parts of the bigger picture, and may even be causing some unwanted externalities along the way (shall I venture to put the word nulcear in here?) However, I do think carbon offsets are a step in the right direction, and the more people choose to go carbon neutral, the more carbon markets will benefit, and most importantly, buying carbon offsets are increasingly making individuals collectively accountable for their own actions.