- Oct 2011
Right, and even if they go and buy "carbon offsets" for those things, that's not particularly adequate, since they could be buying "carbon offsets" on top of not burning fuel for (biologically) unnecessary heat, or consuming wastefully, or so forth. If you're in a sinking boat and water is leaking in, merely saying, "Well, I've bailed out my share of the water; I'm water neutral," means very little when you could be bailing more than your "share" and making up for those who are either incapable of doing more, or unwilling to do more. saying, "It's fine for me to zip around in a private jet, because I paid to have a forest planted somewhere," simply isn't adequate if one truly believes there's a pressing global issue. Doubly so given "carbon offset" programs are moderately suspicious from the start. Planting trees, for example, seems to have a complicated relationship with emissions: it's true that while growing, the tree absorbs some carbon from the atmosphere, but trees eventually die and end up releasing a lot of that back into the atmosphere (to say nothing about the possibility of forest fires), and they also influence the albedo of a given area, which itself can interact with how much heat from the sun is reflected or absorbed, all of which means there's at least some case to be made that planting trees isn't a sound solution in all cases.People can protest and cry out against injustice all they please, but if they go back to a heated home, throw away a bunch of trash along with half of their food, and take an hour long shower, it doesn't really matter.
That's not to say that all "carbon offsets" are intrinsically defective, of course, simply that they aren't necessarily as effective as intuition would suggest, and that even when they are, they don't really justify additional luxury consumption if one takes the prevailing view on climate change at face value.