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April 27, 2007

Comments

Cornelius

I know you meant "pervaded."

Patrick A

I beleive that the comparison is made between Indulgences and Carbon is just fine, even if it is not a perfect metaphor. You do a nice job of explaining what Carbon offsets are in theory. In reality, the kind of thinking that leads to carbon offsets is one where persons have replaced God with the environment. In this neo-pagan religion there needs to be a way to have remission of the sins of living like the rest of the heathens that drive SUVs, live in big homes, and fly on airplanes. In order to appease their guilt and for the remission of the sin of living like the rest of us, they purchase these indulgences (offsets). (offsets that actually do nothing to lower the total amount of carbon)

The metaphor may not be perfect, but it makes the point.

Greg

Patrick A. I would have to strongly disagree with you.

There is no remission if you intend to keep on sinning.

And my SUV is greener that the 2 most popular hybrids out there right now.

Jamie Beu

Okay Jimmy, I'll admit that I didn't spend all that much time reading your post for 2 reasons: a) I already understood the difference between carbon emissions credits and indulgences, and b) I couldn't stop laughing, reading Mark Steyn's article that you linked to in the Sun Times. That was hilarious (all except for the part about him buying carbon credits from his own eco-brokerage).

I am glad, though, that Pres. Bush is making sure that Bin Laden's carbon footprint is so small that it counter-balances Gorezilla's massive crater/footprint.

(Also, the parody of "The Girl from Ipanema" for Leo DiCaprio was great. I wonder how many readers caught that one?)

So, does "environmentalism" qualify as a heresy yet, since several Evangelicals are falling into it, or is it still a non-Christian neo-pagan religion?

Aaron

Isn't the comparison betweeen carboin offsets and BUYING indulgences?

Mark H

RE: "Isn't the comparison betweeen carboin offsets and BUYING indulgences?"

That doesn't change the fact that (at least in Gore's case, as in most others, I'd wager) a carbon offset is purchased with the intent of negating the temporal consequences of a 'sin' that the purchaser is still committing, and appears intent on continuing to commit.

Now, if carbon offsets could only purchased to negate the temporal effects of past transgressions that one is no longer committing, the comparison would be more fair. (disputed science aside)

Patrick A

Greg,
I can't really understand why anyone would STRONGLY disagree with anything I said. It is a silly metaphor after all. No metaphor is perfect even if this one is a little tortured. Amen, Amen I say to you. Thou must lighten up.

Maybe Jimmy can write a piece about the just war concept and torturing a metaphor. I am sure it is justified when Al Gore is involved.

mallys

The comparison is made upon the misunderstanding of each. Carbon offsets are misunderstood to repair the damage that a person/corporate entity is doing to the environment. The alms-giving in aid of medieval indulgences was misunderstood as an attempt to buy oneself out of purgatory. Neither is an accurate representation, therefore making them comparable as nonsensical and commonly misrepresented, as well as commonly misunderstood.

Beau

I loved the Sun Times article.

The bit at the end:

The Eco-Messiah sternly talks up the old Nazi comparisons: What we're facing is an "ecological Holocaust, and "the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin."

reminded me of Godwin's Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law

It's an old internet standby, and it's sad to see Al (or anyone) succumb to it.

Ed Pie

a carbon offset is purchased with the intent of negating the temporal consequences of a 'sin' that the purchaser is still committing, and appears intent on continuing to commit.

Um...so, carbon credits are analogous not to indulgences, but to the abuse of selling indulgences instead of repenting? I think the analogy is more apt than it appears on the surface.

Probably too subtly ironic for the folks who want to pass the ecological buck, though.

Edward

The upcoming film Evan Almighty (sequel to 2003's Bruce Almighty) is on the carbon offsets bandwagon, claiming to be the first major motion picture to "zero out" its emissions.

The film's official website links to
this "carbon offsets" activism site, called "Get On Board", a reference to the film's modern-day Noah's Ark storyline.

SouthCoast

OK. After reading this, I went forth and did a tour of my property. It seems that I am in great shape, carbon-footprint-wise, since I have, on my 3 acres, 43 Carbon Offsets (pepper trees, eucalypts, jacarandas, and pines), not to mention a fair number of large shrubs and several stands of hardy weeds...ahem, I mean, Native Vegetation. On the other hand, I also possess a hay-burning, yard-mowing burro who occasionally produces noisy blasts of methane.

Ironeus

I agree with Aaron and Mallys.

Although these acts may be done with flawed understanding or motives, they may have some good consequences (not an excuse of course). eg 'indulgence sales' financally supported the church and helped build St Peter's, 'carbon offsets' might plant more trees.

Regardless of what we think the causes of global warming are or some people's laughable pseudo-religion, we are stewards of creation. Environmental good-intentions, at least, should be praised, and any who are tempted to worship the creation need to be informed of the Creator (cf Acts 17:23-25).

The Holy Father invited everyone to adopt "a way of living, models of production and consumption marked by respect for creation and the need for sustainable development of peoples, keeping in mind the universal distribution of goods, as is so often mentioned in the Church's social doctrine."
Pope Sends Message to Seminar on Climate Change

Beau

Cool! I used the Carbon Zero calculator on the activism site listed above, and if it's even close to correct, I'm way-carbon-negative! I live on 13.5 acres and I have several hundred trees, not to mention 8-10 acres of pasture. I only need 16 trees to be carbon zero.

Anybody have Al's phone number? I gotta call this guy and make some money...

Brian

Question: Does the whole carbon offset thing actually cause anyone to change their actions or is it just moving numbers around? Are the people receiving the money getting paid to plant a tree they were going to plant anyway? Or are they actually doing something that they wouldn't have done if they didn't get the money? If the latter is true, it's got some merit.

Esau

For example, suppose that you are Al Gore and that you own a home that you run in such a way that it burns 221,000 kilowatt-hours in contrast to the 10,656 kilowatt-hours burned by a normal home. Such power consumption is inconsistent with maintaining one's status as carbon emissions' Scoldmaster General, and so what do you do?


CLICK THIS LINK to see what happens when you DEFY Al Gore, Inventor of the Internet & Inquisitor General of Global Warming!


Of course, if you're just interested in Carbon Offsets & Al Gore, here's an article from Investor's Business Daily:

Carbon Offsets: Al Gore's Big Easy

Eileen R

Although these acts may be done with flawed understanding or motives, they may have some good consequences.

I really doubt it. I think that the 'carbon offsets' thing is emerging as the money sink hole of the decade. If the motives were flawed, and the money really went to something good, I'd applaud. As it is, the money seems to be going to a) people who will campaign for more carbon offsets and b) people who are smart enough to sell the fact that they're not developing. "Well, I was thinking of starting a coal-fired factory, but I haven't! Please pay me!"

Michael

My first exposure to this practice was on a ski trip to a resort in California. While standing in the lobby I noticed a poster telling me that if I gave them extra money not only would I be given a green sticker I could place on my jacket while skiing, thus indicating my green awareness to other skiers, but also my money would go to the generation of some amount of greenly produced electricity. Even as dim as I am I realized that demand and market forces will determine how much energy is produced and the entire effort is simply a way for people to assuage their guilt for the neo-pagan sin of producing carbon by giving their money to someone willing to take it.

The analogy with selling indulgences falls flat because acts of almsgiving really can mitigate the temporal punishment of purgatory. The Church is given that authority. Producing carbon is not really a sin but those confused souls who believe it is can settle their aroused consciences by parting with their money to buy the carbon indulgences that help them sleep more soundly.

Tom

Producing carbon is not really a sin

We all have a duty to look out for the common good, and that may include issues relating to carbon.

Maureen

Breathing produces carbon. Sorry, don't feel guilty about that. My intention is to stop breathing only when God turns off the switch.

Brad

Breathing. Hahaha. Some people take things to extreme to make light of their responsibility.

Tim J.

"Some people take things to extreme to make light of their responsibility."

And some peopel take things to the extreme to needlessly panic other people so they can exploit them for selfish purposes. Politicians & faceless bureaucrats for instance.

simple-soul

Interesting - but how exactly do these 'politicians & faceless bureaucrats' exploit such concerns?

How and what do they gain?

Margo

And some peopel take things to the extreme to needlessly panic other people so they can exploit them for selfish purposes.

And another batch of selfish exploiters makes the same argument you do.

Tim J.

"How and what do they gain?"

Oh, my... you can't be THAT simple.

"And another batch of selfish exploiters makes the same argument you do."

Which argument was that? I don't remember giving an argument. I just don't buy in to the stampede mentality over the highly questionable theory of man-made global warming.

I love nature, I paint nature, I camp & hike a lot, I recycle, I drive a very gas-efficient car, I believe in living as simply and efficiently as we reasonably can... I just am not convinced that the planet is in danger from global warming, and if it is, we didn't casue it and can't stop it.

Now, we CAN argue about that (though I'm not really interested presently), but as yet I have not offered any arguments, any evidence pro or con... I only opffered my opinion that global warming is being used - to great effect - as political snake-oil.

Margo

Which argument was that? I don't remember giving an argument.

Do you prefer the word "claim"? You made a claim. You claimed, "some peopel take things to the extreme to needlessly panic other people so they can exploit them for selfish purposes." The same claim is made by selfish exploiters.

Tim J.

"The same claim is made by selfish exploiters."

Very likely. I don't support selfish exploitation of anyone.

Do you assume I am a Republican, or some such?

I see only one side of the issue attempting to use global warming to justify vastly increasing the power of small groups of unelected, trans-national elites over the activities of all of us.

Margo

Do you assume I am a Republican, or some such?

Why? Is it limited to Republicans?

I see only one side of the issue attempting to use global warming to justify vastly increasing the power of small groups of unelected, trans-national elites over the activities of all of us.

Maybe because the other side is sitting in the fat man's chair already.

simple-soul

"small groups of unelected, trans-national elites"

I assume you do not mean multinational corporations?

Care to name any these groups or individuals in these elites?

Tim J.

The U.N., and their favorites.

Tim J.

Here is how I understand the Global Warming dog-and-pony show;

Imagine that the whole population of the Western World were condensed to twenty people sitting around a conference table. It's 2:30, they're full from lunch and they're bored.

One guy casually tosses out "Hey, what do you think about this Global Warming thing?".

Another person askes "What's that?".

The first guy answers "Well, it's this theory that the exhaust from our cars, and power plants, and pollution from factories and deforestation and all that might be causing the earth to warm up, and that this might cause some environmental problems and maybe disasters.".

Now, IMMEDIATELY, you will have five people who will be willing to swear on their belief that global warming is real and that it is a dangerous crisis that dwarfs all other priorities. They pledge their lives and fortunes to stop it NOW.

You will have five others who will IMMEDIATELY deny the possibility of global warming outright, and lable it a mere baseless attack on commerce by closet communists and one-worlders. They pledge their lives and fortunes to stop the communists.

Several people who are friends of the people in groups A and B will join one group or another out of loyalty, admiration or maybe social pressure.

All these people will immediately begin blowing so much smoke up everyone's arse that it will be almost impossible to hear the one timid scientist in the room (the one who actually wrote the original global warming study) say that, yes there is evidence of a warming climate... yes, there are some theories to explain the mechanism of this warming, and according to current theories human activity MAY account for SOME of this and therefore, yes, there MAY be some actions we could take to reduce the human impact on this warming to some extent. He's not all that personally worked up either way, though. He will not throw in with either group A or group B. Unfortunately, group C (the rest of us) are in the minority, and will find it almost impossible to shut up groups A and B long enough to present a sane alternative. That makes it hard for me to care much that Group A doesn't like that I use an old gas-powered lawn mower, or that Group B thinks it my patriotic duty to buy a Cadillac Escalade.

The cynic in me also sees group A's main priority to be screaming about group B's profligate carbon lifestyle until group B pays them in cash to shut up.

simple-soul

So this bogus panic is orchestrated by the UN in order to get those who emit a lot of carbon to pay off those who don't emit a lot of carbon?

Brian

What this whole thing needs to make it actually lower carbon emissions is a per capita limit or something (the limit would have to be lower than what we emit now). Then people under the limit can sell their allowance to those over, but the overall effect will be that everything nets out to the set limit. Of course you open up a whole new can of worms when you tell people how much carbon they can emit.

Michael

We all have a duty to look out for the common good, and that may include issues relating to carbon.

Do you propose that we suffocate plant life for the common good? Really, carbon is just a part of nature. It is a natural product of the processes of life.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000085&sid=agFHU6rBtNoE&refer=europe

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6132826.stm

It is all a scam.

Tim J.

I wouldn't say the UN orchestrated it, but they DO know a gravy train when it rolls by.

And the idea is to have those who emit a lot of carbon to pay the U.N. (or certain pet NGOs) on BEHALF of those who don't emit a lot of carbon. They then administer these funds FOR these non-emitters (since they can't be trusted to spend it themselves!).

Mary

Here's a good discussion on the Nazi analogy.

(I don't approve of Godwin's Law, on the whole; it's generally used by people who want to propound a principle and ignore the most obvious counter-example. But when it's used as a term of moral equivalence.)

simple-soul

So, promoting panic on global warming is ultimately designed to generate a sort of tax on (rich) high emitters to be administered by the UN etc. for the benefit of (poor) low-emitting, often mismanaged, countries?

marymargaret

simple soul, do you mean countries like China?? I believe that they have just passed the US as the greatest emitters of greenhouse gases. And, please don't tell me that is a "poor" nation. Wealth and income are even more unevenly distributed than in the US, but the nation is definitely not poor.

simple-soul

marymargaret, well said

I too am trying to understand the allegations TimJ has made.

I would say that it is a distinct possibility that promoting panic on global warming is ultimately designed to generate a sort of tax on (rich) high emitters to be administered by the UN etc. - OSTENSIBLY - for the benefit of (poor) low-emitting, often mismanaged, countries.

I think that is much more likely than the prospect of man-made global warming, actually.

What fraction of this "tax" would actually make it to these undeveloped countries, and then how much would be used for the benefit of the people living in those countries, is anyone's guess.

I would also guess that part of the reason for the seeming desperation to act NOW is that if the global temperature flattens or actually begins to cool a little, well, then the party is pretty much over.

I understand that temperatures have actually remained steady since about 1999. Hmmmm...

Tim J.

It's a classic shake-down. Not much to understand. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have made it into a science.

marymargaret

You may have misunderstood me. My point was that China, as a "developing" nation was not constrained by the Kyoto treaty. This makes no sense as they are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world (and no longer should be considered in any way a "developing" nation). I hold no brief for the UN--it was a seemingly noble idea, but I cannot see how they have made much impact for the betterment of humanity in the last 40 years. (I also don't particularly subscribe to Tim's idea that they are trying to make money from this, but I must admit ignorance as to how the UN really works or how they distribute whatever monies they obtain.)

Eileen R

simple-soul:
So, promoting panic on global warming is ultimately designed to generate a sort of tax on (rich) high emitters to be administered by the UN etc. for the benefit of (poor) low-emitting, often mismanaged, countries?

Simple-soul, I think that you're missing where the argument is. Rich people giving poor people money, whatever their motivations, isn't a bad idea. But the concern is the money isn't going to be administered for the benefit of poor countries.

First of all, a lot of these green funds actually go, not to people reducing their carbon output, but to the benefit of environmental activist groups who promote a greener lifestyle. Theoretically, that might benefit the environment, if the groups were successful, but there's really no guarantee that they will be able to offset your carbon outputs, and a lot of past experience with such organizations to suggest that they won't.

So the second case is that you make sure your money is going directly to someone limiting their carbon production.

But a) there's lots of capacity for plain old deceit here. Third world and old-Communist bloc kleptocracies know how to wrangle this sort of thing with the "I was planning to build a coal fired factory and now I'm not.)

b) is actually a whole lot worse. If you're successfully paying someone to reduce carbon emissions, you'd better be pretty sure that they *should* be reducing carbon emissions. Because what you're going to get is poor people who need that factory or that electricity generating plant being denied a project because the project managers are being paid off with carbon credits.

The principle of carbon offsets could mean Western extravagance being financed by Third World misery.

Myself, I believe much more in a) living simply oneself and b) giving *direct* aid to causes you can personally research will help people and environment, not to amorphous vague carbon offset funds.

Eileen R

marymargaret, funnily enough, Enron was planning to make money off carbon emissions funds trading, as came out in the trial.

TerryC

Being an Old Earther as far as creation is concerned I believe that in previous eons, before God created mankind, the world was a good deal warmer than it is now, and did just fine. I expressed this belief to a liberal co-worker. His answer was along the lines of: But don't you realize if the ice caps melt then coastal cities, where a large number of people live will be flooded. I asked for clarification: You mean like New York, Los Angles, San Francisco?. He said: Yes. My answer: ANd the down side is?

JasonH

This just turns the whole thing into a hostage situation. Imagine Ebay auctions where the seller states "I'm going to clear cut these 40 acres and burn all of the trees unless someone gives me $100,000." never mentioning the fact that he actually bought the land to hunt on in the first place.

Mary Tracy

I believe that Jesus is going to come down from the sky any day now and save us from global warming. I also believe that Santa is going to come down my chimney next Christmas and deliver all the toys that I have been praying for. I have faith

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