The Carbon Question

Good article yesterday in the Portland Tribune’s Sustainable Life section, “Carbon offsets far from settled” by Dawn Weinberger.  It explains the idea of carbon offsets, and points out some of the questions that should be asked of any organization in this area.  Here’s a piece of it:

For example, an offset purchased through the local nonprofit Climate Trust might help preserve a native forest in the Northwest, or it might help with rainforest restoration in Ecuador.

Does that mean there is literally a tree out in the Ecuadorean rainforest with Joe Offset Buyer’s name on it?

Not exactly. But Climate Trust does take the funds from Joe’s purchase and puts them toward replanting efforts, or one of several other causes – including one project that will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions at truck stops by allowing drivers to plug in their trucks at night rather than leave them idling.

Worth reading in its entirety.

While some folks still see this as a liberal guilt-assuaging mechanism, and at its worst that may have some truth, at its best carbon offsets are means to actually dealing with the problem of carbon emissions.  At this moment I suspect the biggest bang for the buck would be projects that lessen the carbon emissions from China – a recent story in the Oregonian claimed that Chinese emissions are impacting rainfall patterns on the Pacific Northwest coast!

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