Have you heard about carbon offsets? Companies and countries are playing this new game, trying to lower carbon emissions first, but if they can’t, buying into another company’s or country’s scheme to offset the emissions they can’t cut.
Lucky for us, dear consumer, that option is also available to the individual. If you’re like most of us you’ve heard of your carbon footprint. Perhaps you’ve cut back on your electric bill at home and done other reductions. But you just can’t part with your SUV. For you, the consumer, you can buy offsets that plant trees and can even bring your carbon footprint down to zero, if you buy enough offsets. So if you buy 10 trees a year to counter the SUV you can say you are responsible (if garish).
But wait. Let’s say you live in North America. Wasn’t the entire eastern part of North America once trees? Didn’t the pioneers have to clear the land? They got rid of all the trees 200 years and more ago and still haven’t regrown those carbon offsets.
So to me, SUV driver, who probably hails from North America, you are billions and billions of trees in the hole. Why don’t we start there.
Indeed, I bet all the biggest civilizations were probably once prime tree growing territory. China, India, and Europe were probably temperate forests, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are trillions of trees in the hole. And I’m looking at you, Brazil, who is trying to catch up. Even in this golden age of offsets, are we losing to the axe of your country?
Still, I don’t want the offsets to stop. Even if we’re only treading water, it’s better than sinking.
And there is one line that may be helping. We fight forest fires, now. Forest fires are basically the release of all that stored carbon in trees entering the atmosphere again, mostly as carbon dioxide. Maybe we fight the fires to avoid property damage. Maybe we fight them for preservation of mature forest. Maybe we fight them so the heavy smoke doesn’t blanket built up areas. Regardless, we fight them and in the global warming game this might be valuable.
So plant some trees. Even better, make sure they don’t burn down.
The manufacturers of some ‘green’ products are selective in their description of how green their product is. Most promote the energy saving or low carbon emissions but don’t say anything about the energy used or carbon dioxide and other pollutants released during manufacture their product. Solar water heating panels are ‘green’ overall as they are a low technology device using fairly simple materials and are very efficient in use. The same cannot be said of photovoltaic cells, electric cars and wind turbines.