The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 April 2007

Indulge yourself

Now available from Julie Neidlinger: carbon-offset offsets.

Here's how they work:

We burn our garbage out here in podunk land.

Send me $5, and we'll burn it more often. Do your part in offsetting carbon offsets, which are a sham, and enhancing the predictable warmer/colder wetter/drier milder/wilder weather that global warming is slated to bring.

Or, send me $10 and I'll just drive mindlessly up and down the road, polluting.

I'm tempted to send her something like $8.75, just to see what happens.

Posted at 10:10 AM to Family Joules

For $8.75, I'll either burn garbage plus a half, or drive up and down the road and, for a short moment, think about what I'm doing, before returning to mindlessness.

I am also willing to burn styrofoam cups.

Posted by: Julie at 1:14 PM on 22 April 2007

Hmm. If you believe the link to the link to the link to the BusinessWeek story that says carbon offsets may be bogus because the money goes to brokers and to people who were investing in lower-carbon energy already, then how do you have any faith that this woman would actually create more carbon instead of just pocketing your money?

Seriously, though, the eventual link destination has such gaping flaws in logic that it's hard to understand the venom. Yeah, ideally, the money for such things goes to new projects that create more energy savings, but no one expects that to always be the case in similar areas.

If you buy a new car because you need a new car but it gets better gas mileage than your old one, should you still have to pay as much for gas as you did before because saving gas was not your primary reason for purchasing the car? If your family outgrows a two-bedroom apartment so you buy a house, you get the tax deduction for the mortgage payment even though you would have bought the house anyway.

Incentives for secondary motives are an everyday thing in finance and policy. I think companies like TerraPass would obviously prefer to use offset money on new projects instead of existing ones, but that, by itself, doesn't make the incentive any less valid.

In an unregulated trading market, I would be more concerned that the same offset was being sold multiple times, or sold for something that didn't exist at all (something Kyoto wouldn't have allowed). However, I don't see the problem with anyone getting secondary incentives. Isn't that what clever capitalism is supposed to do?

Posted by: Matt at 2:58 PM on 22 April 2007

I actually think the best link to cover this situation was the link that offered offsets for being a jerk, ugly, and stupid. In just a few words, the writer makes the point very well.

Me? I'm just being silly.

But I did just burn the garbage.

Posted by: Julie at 6:24 PM on 22 April 2007

I actually think the best link to cover this situation was the link that offered offsets for being a jerk, ugly, and stupid.

At long last, my ship has come in and I'm going to be rich!

Oh, wait. This is where jerky, ugly and stupid people pay other people to be nice, good-looking and smart for them?


Posted by: McGehee at 8:48 PM on 22 April 2007

"Clever capitalism"? Too clever by half.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:33 PM on 26 April 2007