Carbon Offset Update
Well, waddya know . . . no-one was interested in buying my carbon offset that I’d put up on Ebay. Three possible reasons for this:
- In general talk about climate change is cheap. Ask people to spend some money to do something about it, and the room goes very quiet.
- Perhaps I was just listed in the wrong aisle on Ebay. To misquote one of my favourite authors, “Ebay is big. Really big. You just wouldn’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to Ebay“. So listing my carbon offset in amongst the ‘Other Car Accessories’ might not have been the best place to promote what I was selling! That said, I did get 47 viewings (not all of them me, I hope), but not a single bid. So perhaps it’s back to item 1) above.
- There may be something fundamentally flawed with my idea to sell my carbon offset. Hmmm.
Actually, come to think of it, I think there’s something wrong with a lot of offset schemes. Especially the plant-a-tree ones. Here’s why . . .
- Take a flight, releasing XX tons of carbon dioxide, sulphides, etc at high level.
- Plant a tree to grow and absorb the equivalent at ground level. So far so good.
- 50 years later, the tree is full-grown, offsetting your three-hour flight. Sounds a bit like running your current account in the red for a long time to fund an impulse purchase. Perhaps a better analogy is that you’ve paid for your holiday by adding it to your mortgage.
- 150 years later, the tree dies, and rots, releasing carbon dioxide, methane, etc. In fact most of your offset greenhouse gasses are out in the atmosphere again. Doh!
I don’t know what’s to be done about global warming (we may already be completely knackered), but I can’t see how offset is the way out. People like James Lovelock (who has one of the most swivel-eyed foaming at the mouth websites you’re ever likely to see . . . put it’s design to one side, and read his books) believe that nuclear power is the only option. He may be right, but until we figure out how to deal with the waste products, this looks a bit like an out of the frying pan and into the fire option.
The UK government reportedly wants to make all schools carbon neutral in the next few years. This will involve a significant demolish and rebuild programme. I wonder if they’ve looked at the cost of producing the building materials, and whether or not these have been included in their calculations of an annual 750,000 ton carbon dioxide saving?
Car manufacturers are starting to stampede toward making lighter more efficient cars. Powered by things like fuel cells (mmmmmm, nice), or more often, batteries (please, don’t get me started on generation and transmission losses), and made out of aluminium. The funny thing is, next to every aluminium smelter, there is either a big thick set of cables connecting them up to the grid, or to avoid transmission losses, more likely a power station. A whole smegging power station, just for one factory. It may be lightweight, but aluminium sticks like the proverbial to a blanket when it comes to its attraction to oxygen. You need a LOT of electricity to prise them apart. Oh, and large quantities of mercury too if my memory is correct.
Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant. Let me finish by saying if you’ve got this far, and drive around your local town, please get out of your car, and borrow a bike for a day. It could just be the start of changing your life, and along the way you might save the planet.
Actually, I have one more really pessimistic thing to say. Global warming really doesn’t matter in the long run. In its history, our little rock’s ecosystems have been through some pretty tough times (the permian extinction . . . 96% of all marine life, and 70% of all land-based vertebrates wiped out), and it WILL survive. It’s just that we won’t be around to see it, unless we do something about it today.