by Jerry Stifelman, The Change Strategy
CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REALLITY AFFIRMED BY EVERY MAJOR SCIENTIFIC BODY ON THE PLANET. IT IS HAPPENING NOW. EXTREMES OF HEAT AND COLD, DROUGHTS AND FLOODING — AND A WARMER PLANET IN GENERAL ARE NOW FACTS OF LIFE. BASED ON MEASUREMENTS OF THE POLAR ICE CAP AND GREENLAND’S ICE LEVELS, WARMING IS OCCURRING AHEAD OF PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS.
IN THIS SITUATION, ANYTHING WE CAN DO THAT WE CHOOSE NOT TO DO IS LIKE WILLFUL BLINDNESS.
THIS IS WHY AL GORE, HUNTER LOVINS, BILL MCKIBBENS AND EVERY ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER I KNOW OF ENDORSES THE PRACTICE OF CARBON OFFSETS.
There has been controversy about offsets on two levels. I will respond to each below:
1. Do they work? For example, the value of planting trees as an offset is highly questionable and we do not support this method except in specific circumstances. The offsets we recommend are made by investing in projects that add clean energy to the grid (such as wind projects), that abate greenhouse gasses (such as landfill capping) and that improve industrial efficiency by directly taking carbon credits off the market via the Chicago Climate Exchange.
2. Are offsets the modern equivalent of medieval indulgences? Are they giving people a license to keep emitting carbon? This argument would only be valid if individuals and companies were making the choice between offsetting emissions or avoiding them entirely. For life and business to go on, we need to travel occasionally, we need computer servers and we need electricity. Most environmentalists, ourselves included, see offsets as a necessary piece of the equation to mitigate climate change.