Sunday, February 11, 2007

Carbon offsets: An Environmentalist Weighs In

Update: (11-Feb-07) and Bumped. Welcome Instapundit readers. My first Insta-launch. Take a look around while you are here.

Grist does a good job of expressing my reluctance on the carbon neutrality issue and how illogical the entire effort seems.
Intuitively, though, it feels like there's something wrong with this picture. When you stop and think about it, the whole idea of driving a car, paying money into a green kitty to offset the CO2 from burning the gas, and then calling the car trip carbon-neutral, is ludicrous.
Exactly and I have been saying here, and here and here it appears the carbon neutrality culture is nothing more than guilt riddance via checkbook matched up with an entrepreneurial opportunity that the Vatican would be proud of exploiting.
But it's worse than padding the books. Carbon offsets are disturbingly redolent of the sale of indulgences in the Middle Ages, by which the wealthy could expiate their sins without prayer or good works by greasing the palms of the Church hierarchy. Leaving aside whether carbon emitting is "sinful," the purchase of carbon offsets smacks of the same corruption that turned indulgences into "get out of Purgatory free" cards and helped set off the Protestant Reformation.
Ouch! Wonder if Al Gore is going to do an interview with Komanoff.

Lastly, Komanoff does a take down on the Moral Authority front:
Americans must move individually toward low-carbon lives -- bicycling instead of driving, replacing watt-wasting incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, and minimizing air travel. This personal commitment is essential, not just to deliver big reductions in carbon emissions but for the sake of moral consistency.
Imagine Peter Schweitzer and Komanoff agreeing on this issue.


At Sunday, February 11, 2007 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Red A said...

There is also a sort of moral hazard, particulary for offsets based on cleaning up 3rd world industries.

Example: a European utility could be buyn carbon shares by helping a Chinese polluter clean up their plant.

Problem is that creates a moral hazard for investors in China to buy the dirtiest technology possible so the Europeans will come and pay for the upgrade instead of buying the best, cleanest technology that they might normally consider.

At Sunday, February 11, 2007 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous John F. said...

There is limited room for trees on the planet, so offsets ultimately come down to the rich monopolizing the right to produce carbon at the expense of the poor. Contrast with the unlimited capacity for the Vatican to take bribes. Advantage: incumbents, per usual. There is a world of difference between a carbon tax and a carbon cap (credits).

At Monday, February 12, 2007 6:20:00 PM, Anonymous John Schan said...

Congratulations on the Instalanche.


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