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Carbon Offsets = “Ecological Indulgences”

John on March 19, 2007 at 11:34 am

Charles Krauthammer makes the comparison in a piece for Time.  [HT: Ace of Spades] I don’t know if he’s the first to say it, but I wish I’d thought of it:

Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore global-warming pitch at the Academy Awards? Before they spoke, the screen at the back of the stage flashed not-so-subliminal messages about how to save the planet. My personal favorite was “Ride mass transit.” This to a conclave of Hollywood plutocrats who have not seen the inside of a subway since the moon landing and for whom mass transit means a stretch limo seating no fewer than 10.

Leo and Al then portentously announced that for the first time ever, the Academy Awards ceremony had gone green. What did that mean? Solar panels in the designer gowns? It turns out that the Academy neutralized the evening’s “carbon footprint” by buying carbon credits. That means it sent money to a “carbon broker,” who promised, after taking his cut, to reduce carbon emissions somewhere on the planet equivalent to what the stars spewed into the atmosphere while flying in on their private planes.

In other words, the rich reduce their carbon output by not one ounce. But drawing on the hundreds of millions of net worth in the Kodak Theatre, they pull out lunch money to buy ecological indulgences. The last time the selling of pardons was prevalent–in a predecessor religion to environmentalism called Christianity–Martin Luther lost his temper and launched the Reformation.

As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a clear conscience the carbon offset brings.Al Gore as Tetzel – I love it! “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a clear conscience the carbon offset brings.” Then again, the money Leo X extorted from people did pay for Michalagelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel and some work by Raphel (not sure if it paid for our masthead or not…). Somehow I don’t think we’re getting that kind of bang for our buck. As Krauthammer notes:

GreenSeat, a Dutch carbon-trading outfit, buys offsets from a foundation that plants trees in Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park to soak up the carbon emissions of its rich Western patrons. Small problem: expanding the park encroaches on land traditionally used by local farmers. As a result, reports the New York Times, “villagers living along the boundary of the park have been beaten and shot at, and their livestock has been confiscated by armed park rangers.” All this so that swimming pools can be heated and Maseratis driven with a clear conscience in the fattest parts of the world.

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