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World’s Dirtiest Rivers and Lakes

image Treehugger recently did a slideshow on the World’s Dirtiest Rivers and Lakes. While the slideshow doesn’t have anything to do with global warming, it should be important to all and especially the readers that stop by this site each week. If you are concerned with global warming then you should be concerned with most things where we have screwed up the environment to our own detriment.

Recently, there was a rather foolish announcement that said that said global warming kills over 300,000 per year already.  I didn’t talk much about this report here, as I thought it didn’t merit my time.  However, I do wonder how many real deaths (as opposed to Kofi’s fictitious 300K) are caused by poor drinking water. If you have ever been in a Starbucks, you have likely seen the bottles of Ethos water which donate part of the proceeds to clean drinking water to poor countries. Their site says:

Cap and Trade is here

Let me start by explaining that I am not a lover of cap and trade.  The systems that have been proposed to date are simply taxes on certain types of energy so that other forms seem to be more competitive.  They also tend to reward industries that can have a flexibility in energy sources while punishing industries that have to purchase high BTU energy sources.  Finally, they can reward industries and organizations that did nothing to improve their energy use – they were just lucky enough to use less carbon.  To make cap and trade look better, you may also see it referred to carbon trading or carbon offsets but a rose is a rose, regardless of its name (or in this case – a tax is a tax, regardless of its name).

Carbon offset = cheat offset?

I have often complained that carbon offset credits just don’t make sense.  I don’t think that they will do anything to create better behavior and think it is simply a shell game that will only end up lining someone’s pockets.

But I appear to be in the minority in this view.  So I ask those that disagree with me isn’t what is good for the goose good for the gander as well?  I just found this website:

CheatNeutral

What is Cheat Offsetting?

When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere.

As carbon market grows, law firms cash in

Boston Business Journal – May 16, 2008

In my opinion, this is wrong in so many ways that I can barely count all of the problems! As my frequent readers know, I rant against carbon trading schemes all the time, so much so that my fingers are starting to be bruised. I have yet to see one that makes sense to me and this story typifies many of the problems. (If you want to stay up to speed on all of my thoughts on this subject, subscribe to the feed for this site).

Carbon-Market Concept Moves to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal – May 14, 2008

I really do not like the concept of trading in carbon. I think that carbon offsets trading only reward bad processes that are extremely cheap and are a band-aid to the real problem. If it is assumed that we need to vastly reduce the carbon footprint then the buying public should be encouraged to buy energy and products that result from lower carbon emissions and discouraged from buying the carbon rich ones.

Allowing a utility that has a coal burning plant in one part of the world to offset that footprint with a geo-thermal plant in another part of the world really doesn’t solve anything. If the two plants served the same marketplace, then their energy would compete but if the two plants are separated by oceans then we really haven’t solved any problems, we have just allowed a company to financially afford a carbon-rich coal plant.

Companies try to make going green easier

Denver Business Journal – December 7, 2007

I haven’t made any secret of my distrust of the carbon credits (or carbon trading) programs that are on the market. I have written about them often and have pointed out multiple times where they are more scam than good. While I am certain that there are some programs that have good intentions, the devil is usually in the details and the details are usually not very good.

I can’t tell if the two programs in this article are good or bad.  They don’t give enough details in the article but I am suspicious.  While the companies that ShipGreen and AllState are donating to appear to be above board, they simply are not sharing enough information to tell if the money is doing any good.  I am reminded that BusinessWeek did an article on this type of effort only to find that little of the offset money did any good.

Little Green Lies

BusinessWeek – October 29, 2007

BusinessWeek must be one of the most venerable periodicals in the business community. Few magazines can acclaim to the level and depth of business discussion. Most CEOs and business leaders read or at least skim the magazine on a regular basis.

As their cover story, BW decided to cover the idea that "going green" was a good thing for business.  I have discussed this issue before and it was good to get BW’s opinion and coverage on the story.  Their perspective is quite interesting.

Dell Inc. Plans to Become ‘Carbon Neutral’ by 2008

Wall Street Journal – September 27, 2007

This was a short article in the Wall Street Journal which is good because it has little news worthiness and, in my opinion, is more PR than good environmentalism.

First of all, CO2 waste is not a huge factor in the assembly  and marketing of computers which is what Dell does. It is relatively easy for these companies to reduce their CO2 use and even if they didn’t, they really aren’t affecting the carbon dioxide atmospheric content much.  So this is a big "so what" especially when you take into account the next few items.

Can you buy a greener conscience?

Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2007

P.T. Barnum supposedly said that there was a sucker born every minute. Sometimes, when I read about carbon credits, I am not sure who the sucker is – the person buying, the person selling, or the general public for thinking it is helping!

I really don’t like carbon credit schemes.  I have written about them multiple times and most of what I read simply doesn’t make sense and is closer to scam than it is to solution.

In order for credits to be feasible and to be more than a “feel good” gesture, we need solid accounting, accountability, and penalties. We have none of that now and this article makes this painfully clear. We cannot allow credits to be used for minor contributions to a project. The credit must go to the cost of reducing the greenhouse gas. 

How Carbon Trading Works

HowStuffWorks

This is a great overview article if you want to learn more about carbon trading and how it works. As frequent readers know, I am not a big proponent of these schemes because I think they are ripe for abuse and many of the “improvements” are just part of the standard process for constant economic savings. Also, as fuel prices rise, improvements become much more necessary.

It does seem likely though that some type of system is going to be implemented in the US and in other countries. So we should all learn more about these systems, their weaknesses and their strengths.