Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Quixotic Quest for Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality, as its name implies, is the quest to offset your "carbon footprint" -- the amount of carbon your business or lifestyle puts into the atmosphere -- with credits deemed to reduce carbon output by an equal amount. Basically, it's "burn a watt, plant a tree," but it gets more complex quickly.

Al Gore bragged recently that he and Tipper are going carbon-neutral, and said he proofed his pudding with his flick, An Inconvenient Truth. Variety details how Gore's Opus Climatus became carbon neutral:
Paramount Classics and Participant [Productions] have teamed with NativeEnergy on an eco-savvy way to tout the film: They're offsetting 100% of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by pic-related globetrotting activities such as air travel, car services and hotels.

NativeEnergy calculates a "carbon footprint" based on the promo activities, with Par Classics and Participant splitting the costs associated with the footprint. NativeEnergy will use the proceeds to help build new Native American, Alaskan Native Village and farmer-owned renewable energy projects.

It's nice that the Native Americans got some renewable energy. I wonder how much carbon will be burned delivering the equipment and the trainers, and how that carbon will be offset.

Note that Gore did not attempt to offset the energy involved in making the film; only in marketing it. Production crew travels, lighting sets, manufacturing cameras, editing and duping the film ... indeed, showing the film in air conditioned theaters that folks drive to ... these are carbon-spewing activities that Gore chose not to be neutral on. Why? Presumably because it would be far too costly.

But what's really obvious is that carbon neutrality in this application is nothing more than another Leftist wealth redistribution scheme: Rich politico-enviros and Hollywood producers give some of their money to poor Native Americans, then recover it by writing it off as marketing expense, so the American taxpayers foot the bill.

In concept, carbon neutrality is blissful. It allows us to purge our materialism guilt by giving to the church of Mother Earth. After all, there's nothing wrong with planting trees, or encouraging the development of alternative energy sources through Renewable Energy Credits, another carbon neutrality strategy. Really. I'm not being sarcastic. There's nothing wrong with that. Go for it.

But there's nothing wrong with not doing it, either. Corporations and individuals give in many ways, and the carbon neutrality movement is a very clever way to encourage their giving to go into eco-causes. But that can mean that other worthy causes -- orphaned children, inner city poverty, coversion of lost souls -- will get less money, and human suffering will increase because the enviros are getting more money to chase the windmill of turning back their demon de jour, global warming.

Because this is a Leftist concept, the next logical step will be to mandate carbon neutrality by forcing businesses to pursue it. In so doing, they are fostering Socialism, forcing their thinking into the free market. Their thinking always is detrimental to the free market. When the free market suffers, people suffer by getting laid off ... which is more impactful on their quality of life than global warming.

Finally, as shown in this satellite photo of air pollution in China -- carbon pollutants that are now wafting over our shores from the smelters, factories and diesel trucks of the eco-bruttality that is Communist China -- we see the final fallacy of carbon neutrality. It focuses on the nations that are working hard to increase efficiency and decrease pollutants, and does nothing globally to fix problems in China and India.

Oh, they may have a handy project you can help fund to put windmills in some farm village in rural China, but what's needed is eco-diplomacy, cutting Favored Nation trade status and tough policy, not chanting Om and prancing after carbon neutrality.

Now that the enviros have introduced the concept of carbon neutrality, they should keep their little promotion machine going and let the free market do its stuff. If they do, carbon neutrality is a fine thing.

But it's more likely they will do what they always do. They will guilt-trip us, indoctrinate our children, and not practice what they preach. (How does a big, fundraising-needy enviro group go carbon-neutral on a direct mail campaign to a couple million recipients?) When that fails to turn public opinion enough for them (and they have a very hard time realizing when they've been victorious) they will use legislation and the courts to force their will on us.

China Photo: Space and Motion
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