Global Warming & Carbon Offsets

What do you think? Are carbon offsets going to solve global warming in one-fell swoop? Are they just one piece of the puzzle? Or, do you think they’re entirely booooogus, and should be relegated to ideas junkyard, along with Flowbees, Betamax players and cases of New Coke?

Have you bought carbon offsets? If so, from whom… and what was your experience?

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts right here.

Yours in reducing gaseous emissions of all kinds,

Tom and Ray

Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

Carbon offsets and credits are popular in Europe where there is an actiuve carbon trading market. Buying carbon offsets for a trip is a dicey situation, since the companies that are supposed to be planting trees or other do other mitigating activities are mostly fly-by-nights. At this stage I would put them below extended warranties on my dependability list.

If they all worked as expected, carbon offsets would indeed reduce global warming.

Selling carbon offsets to the public is a silly “feel good” activity, but the concept does work on a large scale. If two companies have large scale activities that produce large CO2 emissions it may make economic sense for one to help finance their carbon reduction efforts by selling credits to another company. Obviously, it will be more practical for some types of industries than others to reduce carbon, credit are just another commodity that can be traded (like currency options or oil futures).

They may work - assuming ‘global warming’ is a reality, and it is largely caused by humans. I find it hard to believe that computer models can accurately predict the weather centuries in advance, when they can’t even predict accurately the weather for next week.

Anyway, I won’t get into a ‘global warming’ discussion. But these ‘credits’ won’t solve the problem, if it exists. It would seem to be simply a money grab, perpetuated by people who prey on others gullibility and their desire to change the world with their money while not actually doing anything about the problem. I think it ranks up there with some of the mileage improver scams, and we all know what I think about those…

There is no reason that they will not work as well as other pollution credits that have been around for decades. For example, I’ve seen power companies that operate nuclear power station sell their unused credits to other utilities and use the revenue to offset their operating costs. I have also seen them donate their unused credit to environmental organizations (and take the tax deduction); the environmental organizations then tear up the credits and get them off the market. In those types of cases, I think it works. The idea is that the limits will be reduced over time and these credits will become more valuable on the market.

I’m not sure that buying carbon credits from someone who premisses to plant a few trees is such a good idea.

I fear that most “carbon offsets” available today are really ways of making money for doing what you should be doing anyway. Having your customers pay for required pollution control.

I suppose on a large-scale industrial application, I can see how these credits may be useful. But individuals buying credits won’t work, I don’t think. It makes the individual feel better (and makes their wallet lighter) but they don’t do anything different and anything the credit seller does (assuming they do anything) will likely be on such a small scale that it doesn’t make a difference.

“I find it hard to believe that computer models can accurately predict the weather centuries in advance, when they can’t even predict accurately the weather for next week.”

Global warming is a climatological phenomenon, not weather. Weather is short term, climate is long term. And there is still considerable debate on whether there really is global warming in the sense that it is artificially (human) generated. The problem is deducing whether increased carbon dioxide levels lead to the increase in average global temperature or whether they just happen to occur at about the same time. I’m still not sure what to believe, although there are some respectable climatologists who believe that global warming is not only real, but related to increased carbon dioxide generated by us.

I recall reading somewhere that a study was done which showed that increased CO2 levels came about AFTER a rise in global temperature throughout the Earth’s history. Thus, CO2 levels increase as a result of increased temperature, not the other way around. I’ll have to find that study again.

In any case, increased CO2 levels are encouraging plant growth in the Sahara desert, shrinking the desert, but making more fertile and farmable land, and more land in which to live on.

" In any case, increased CO2 levels are encouraging plant growth in the Sahara desert, shrinking the desert, but making more fertile and farmable land, and more land in which to live on."

I only found one scholarly reference on this subject during a quick search. A Florida State climatologist and a NASA climatologist reviewed 8 years of satellite pictures of the Sahara. During dry years the Sahara extended southward, but it retreated north to about the original boundaries during wet years. The net effect is that the Sahara remains about the same size. This was not a long term study; many of the other references on line seemed to say that the desert is expanding south. But they weren’t direct from the researchers.

I have not used carbon offsets but have you heard of “water4gas”? You can get the best idea from their website
The idea sound incredible.


For f***s sake… I hope you’re not seriously proposing this as an alternative…

Saving the ecology has become a grand industry. And, like most industries, those wishing to capitalize on it take every opportunity to do so, including manufacturing a demand for snake oil and “thin air.” And also, these snake oil/thin air salesmen have brought on politicians looking to benefit from the frenzy. Really thoughtful and practical enviromental issues and answers are ignored and/or guffawed while chasing etherial utopias and fighting to stop the sky from falling.

What thoughtful and practical environmental issues do you want to discuss?

Betamax is actually a superior format to VHS - it just lost the marketing war.

I think any system where you force anybody to do things they otherwise would not do (or want to do) is not workable and sustainable in the long run. We need to find ways to get people to WANT to reduce carbon emissions (and energy consumption). Unfortunately - 10 to 15 years ago was the deadline to act. Changing people takes a long time to implement and we are out of time.

Hmmmm…I was hoping you’d give suggestions similar to the "Giving Up Carbon for Lent’ story on NPR earlier today. That is, drive your car 30 miles? OK, hang out the laundry, starting now-until forever, except emergencies. I live in the mountains where we are having snow every other day, yet I hang out the clothes and they dry. Voila, no dryer!! In other words, until carbon offsets are settled and reliable, and even after, I want to change what I do right here right now. After all, just think of the impact of no-point pollution. How about no-point carbon reduction? Let’s show the power of each seemingly irrelevant point.

This debate belongs on a political forum, not a car repair forum. Carbon offsets and the whole issue of how much we do or do not contribute to the earths not-unprecedented change in temperature during the extremely short time we’ve been monitoring it are political, not scientific.

I’m in favor of continuing to develop technology to clean up emissions. But the whole carbon footprint thing is Hollywood run amuck.


Amen to that, MB.

FWIW, in my opinion, practical solutions would include high speed rail from Chicago to Boston to Atlanta with all obvious stops in between with a concurrent high tax on competing air travel. Possibly the ROW and rails would be government owned and track time leased to private operators. Great efforts should be made to penalize the use of land near significant rivers and streams while encouraging recreational use. Taxes can be used to encourage more efficient buildings and discouraging the outrageous, vain, conspicous consumption seen in most new homes and businesses… etc., etc., etc.

“the whole carbon footprint thing is Hollywood run amuck.”

That is one view and not an unreasonable one, but there is another view and it is equally unreasonable.

The fact is the situation is a matter of different opinions based on an incomplete set of facts.