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Pro: Carbon offsets just might turn a Scrooge into an Al Gore

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Wayne Madsen
December 24, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, “Can Americans help reduce global warming by giving carbon offsets for Christmas?”

If you are looking for a gift for the person who has everything or you need a last-minute stocking stuffer, you might consider the “gift of green.”


Carbon credit gift packs or certificates are fast becoming the rage for consumers who want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.


The carbon offset certificate represents a set amount of CO2 emissions, one metric ton or 100 kilograms, which will be either offset or prevented from being emitted into the atmosphere by investing in “green technology” projects around the world. Carbon credits are not money but investments in cleaning up the environment. They fluctuate in value on carbon-credit trading markets.


Carbon offsets can range in value between $5.50 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions to $13 per metric ton. As with any new trading scheme, there are also reasonable calls for more government regulation and oversight of carbon trading.


The possibility that unscrupulous companies are engaging in “greenwashing,” masking their pollution by engaging in carbon offset trading remains to fund green projects, is a threat.


Carbon offsets can help finance eco-friendly projects such as wind, solar, ocean wave, and other enviro-friendly efforts. This past September, the Vatican accepted a “gift of green”—the planting of trees on a deforested Hungarian island in the Tisza River in return for offsetting the Vatican’s carbon emissions. The gift made the Vatican the first carbon neutral nation in the world.


By purchasing the ability to eliminate the pumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, there is an expectation that one can offset their own “carbon footprint” from using greenhouse gas-emitting cars, planes, boats, home furnaces, and pollution-causing consumer products.


With the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Vice President Al Gore for his work in combating global climate change, the recent Bali conference on climate change, and the bi-partisan and international Western Regional Climate Change Initiative, there is renewed focus on healing our sick planet.


Carbon offset trading is but one example of political leaders, businesses, and citizens telling the global climate change deniers in the Bush administration to, as a delegate recently proclaimed in Bali, “lead, follow, or get out of the way.”


Global climate change is a fact of life for the many inhabitants of low-lying islands around the world that are being inundated with rising seawater. Some 2,000 islanders from Papua New Guinea’s Carteret Island are about to become the world’s first global warming refugees.


They will soon be joined by 600 islanders from nearby Takuu island, an island with a rich Polynesian history and culture that will die with the drowning of the island.


On New Britain island in Papua New Guinea, homeowners are moving their children and livestock to higher ground. The story is much the same across the Pacific, especially in Tuvalu, which virtually has no “higher ground”—its highest point is 15 feet above sea level.


Similarly, islanders in the Ganges Delta of Bangladesh, Zanzibar, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are also moving because their homes and gardens are being swamped under by sea waves. And the situation will only get worse unless concrete action is taken and fast.


In fact, for the person who has everything and is a global climate change denier or agnostic, a carbon credit certificate may be the ideal Christmas gift. For these environmental Ebenezer Scrooges, wishing them a Green Christmas might be the best way to promote the mitigation of the current global environmental crisis.


Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer for the liberal Online Journal (http://www.onlinejournal.com). Readers can write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20045, or via e-mail at wmreditor@waynemadsenreport.com.

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