Byon January 24, 2008 6:45 PM
Centuries ago, the Catholic Church was willing to take money in exchange for Indulgences, buying oneself or a loved one out of Purgatory. Today, companies have begun to offer the same thing, except the sin of today is Pollution.
Shortly after Al Gore put out his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and appeared in front of Congress to chide the world for it’s carbon usage (while refusing to pledge to reduce his own), governments started offering Carbon credits, functionally allowing companies or countries to trade the right to pollute for tax breaks. It’s an interesting idea, and perhaps it will help, though there shouldn’t be any trading if we want to have any hope of actually making things better.
Perhaps at the corporate level it will help. At the personal level, I’m not so sure. For one, I don’t think most people have enough of a carbon footprint (which is an asinine thing to call it, Carbon is in fucking everything, really it’s a carbon dioxide/monoxide footprint) to justify purchasing carbon offsets from organizations we have little reason to trust. The government has begun to pass new laws requiring better gas mileage and fewer emissions out of never cars. Car companies have been exploring non-gasoline cars for years, and Electric is finally starting to be feasible as a daily driver.
So, why on earth would we buy offsets from an organization like Green Life? They’ll calculate your energy costs so you can give them money, which they’ll turn right around and invest in renewable energy resources. While nice on the surface, the energy market is a good racket to be getting into. Generating electricity from renewable resources like manure and hydro (which may be carbon-neutral, but has far reaching environmental impact) is a business that is going to become more and more important as global energy demands increase.
And by selling you piece of mind in order to invest in these projects, the Green Life group stands to make a pretty penny when these generator’s go online and start selling their energy.
Think I’m wrong? Green Life is directly affiliated with venture capital firm RNK Capital LLC. This is a business venture. They’re selling you peace of mind, a path out of environmental purgatory, and they’ll benefit financially from it. Sure, some good might come from these investments, but you’re better off investing your money in these projects where you stand to get a return for it. The environmental offset of these projects isn’t going to be visible in your lifetime anyway, invest in the future, but do so responsibly. If you’re going to put out money to help the environment without a return on that investment, plant a tree, don’t give money to people who are clearly taking it so they can make a buck.