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The Lazy Environmentalist

Larry,

This was really great to read. One aspect to carbon offsetting that I believe to be so important is that it opens up the concept of our carbon use having a price. A carbon market will become increasingly important, and by creating a market we begin to understand our personal cost - and the cost created by others, individually, collectively and by industry. It is then easy to understand the importance of annual carbon reduction targets - measurable in a language that everyone grasps - and fights for.

LG

Lazy:

In some circles I know it's not cool (no pun intended, sorry) to go the offset route. And we do have to guard against the notion that people see it as the easy course, and then do nothing further. My gut tells me that this is not actually the case, at least now when the presumably more green oriented are more the likely early offsetters. But I'd like to see some research on this!

LG

Matt Holbert

Larry- Thanks for the comprehensive post on carbon offsetting. I just posted the following at my blog and thought that you might have an interest:

"I have spent almost 14 years thinking about sustainable development. I am convinced that the only way that we will begin to live more sustainably is to create a system of living that is attractive when compared with the existing consumption-oriented system.

The carbon offset controversy presents an opportunity to introduce a new and attractive way of living. A carbon offset club where your carbon offset credits create an account that you can access in the future. Think of it as a "bank" that only utilizes assets to build and operate sustainable living places and spaces. A learning-oriented system. Gourmet food. Much of it grown on site. Members can learn the art of gardening, cooking, and craftsmanship. On-site operating partners that are committed to maintaining a small footprint. A world-class spa -- and a whole new way of living.

A whole new way of thinking about carbon offsets. A whole new way of thinking about retirement. Let's call it full time engagement.

Access to the club/spa is through a reservation system that gives priority to members based on the amount and timing of their club deposits.

It's not enough to plant trees. We can systemically alter the way we live."

By the way, I can recommend orienteering. It is a good way to get some exercise for both the body and the mind.

LG

Matt:

Thanks for the comments. Your idea for a carbon offset club is intriguing and obviously has a lot of thought behind it. I appreciate the 'reading list' on your blog as well. You might be interested in checking out Jack and Nancy Todd's 'Safe and Sustainable World' if you haven't read it yet. They've put some very convincing small-footprint practices into play in Burlington, Vermont. Very interesting stuff.

Larry

kevin smith

I thought you might be interested in this new report that is available online

The Carbon Neutral Myth – Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins is available online at:
www.tni.org

"Carbon offsets are the modern day indulgences, sold to an increasingly carbon conscious public to absolve their climate sins. Scratch the surface, however, and a disturbing picture emerges, where creative accountancy and elaborate shell games cover up the impossibility of verifying genuine climate change benefits, and where communities in the South often have little choice as offset projects are inflicted on them.

This report argues that offsets place disproportionate emphasis on individual lifestyles and carbon footprints, distracting attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken to tackle climate change. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches involves moving away from the marketing gimmicks, celebrity endorsements, technological quick fixes, and the North/South exploitation that the carbon offsets industry embodies."

Matt Holbert

Larry- Thanks for referring me to the book by John and Nancy Todd. (Just by accident, I realized this afternoon that you had responded to my comment back in February.) As it happens, their son was in Spokane for a presentation a year or two ago and talked about the Burlington project. Interesting stuff. I'll try to get a copy of the book. Looking the book up on Amazon, I came across information on advertising at Amazon that may help me with marketing my idea. :)

Matt

Amy

I'm about halfway through The Carbon Neutral Myth and I highly suggest everyone give it a good read or two. Looking at exactly what's happening when the plans of the offset companies go into play and the destruction and disturbing side effects will make you think twice about sending money to a company to offset away anything. They use poor areas and force things onto them in order to offset your carbon. Which very often results in changing for the worse a community and its lifestyle, which naturally produces much less carbon than we do.

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