Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Carbon Credits to Offset Your Energy Usage

With the last several postings on biofuels and greenhouse gases, and the next few in line on global warming, this entertaining piece seems like the perfect transition. Sent to us from one of our Energy Counsel Members, Michael Economides from the October issue of the Energy Tribune, we are sure you will want to pass this on to everyone you know as we wanted to pass it on to you.

If you have been confused by the entire concept of carbon credits, this humorous application on the subject will help you grasp the true absurdity of this form on indulgences.

Please read on, leave your comments here, and pass this on to your friends!

Karma Kredits
Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can pay sadness to go away. That’s the idea behind the much-hyped concept of “carbon credits” – which are a sort of climatological karma certificate allowing the bearer to emit gas without fear of social stigma, even if in a crowded space.

Greenhouse gases are the emissions in question, and buying a carbon credit is alleged to offset one’s own carbon dioxide emissions by paying some other unknown entity to not emit the same amount of CO2. This assumes the unknown entity was just about to emit extra gas, but then had his behavior suddenly changed by your payoff.

As proof that this occurred, you get a piece of paper that says “1 ton of CO2.” This then entitles you to feel good while emitting your next ton of said gas. In case you think I have oversimplified this scheme, I refer you to the following statement on the Web-site of TerraPass, a popular dealer of carbon credits:

We've heard customers tell us that the best thing you get when you purchase a TerraPass is the good feeling that comes from knowing you've taken a step toward fighting a serious environmental problem. Beyond that, you'll receive a certificate verifying the amount of carbon dioxide your purchase has removed from the atmosphere.

I’ve heard that the best thing TerraPass gets when you purchase a TerraPass is your money.

You could be an overweight jet-setting millionaire environmentalist (and former vice president) with a carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch in graphite clown shoes, and as long as you bought enough credits you could tread proudly through Eden itself.

I must admit that I have thought about starting my own carbon credits enterprise. The amount of environmental mischief I am thinking about committing – but could be paid not to commit – is surely limitless. For example, I’m thinking about building a 10 million barrel per day refinery out back beside my kids’ swing-set, but for $500, I’ll just put in a picnic table instead (made from sustainable-harvest, fair-trade softwood, by the way, so get that check in the mail).

However, I’m a bit worried that existing carbon credit companies might charge even less than me to do nothing, so I’ve decided to take the concept to the next logical step. I call this program “Karma Kredits.” If you’re thinking about doing anything bad, listen up. For a reasonable price, I’ll not do the same thing, which I assure you I was just about to do.

Suppose you’d like to sleep with your neighbor’s wife this Columbus Day. Well, you need not feel bad. For $750, I will promise not to sleep with your neighbor’s wife too (which activity I already have on my calendar for October 8th). Without your Karma Kredit, two bad things might happen. By paying me, you will surely have prevented one of them – right in your own neighborhood. Have at ’er, boy! Remember, just one wrong makes a right.

Act now, and I’ll include a certificate stating proudly: “1 Neighbor’s Wife” (suitable for framing, an ideal anniversary gift). If you are eyeing your neighbor’s husband, however, I can’t help you. But for a small commission, I suppose I could broker a deal with Sen. Larry Craig (in which case the certificate will be printed on toilet paper).

And if you’re fat (or headed that way), I have a holiday special. I plan on gaining around 400 pounds between now and Christmas. For $1 per pound, I will gain less than this, allowing you to gain that weight and feel good that our average (projected) weight has not changed at all. You may not be able to climb the stairs to your cardiologist’s office, but we’ll be exactly the same, in the aggregate.

Lastly, are you a jerk prone to road rage? For $12 per day, I will cut off no more than three people on my commute. For $18, I’ll actually let one person change lanes with a friendly wave, provided they signal first. This will free you up to go nuts on your next drive. How comforting it will be to know that I may be right behind you, happily waving in the octogenarian motorist you just forced into the esplanade. Together, we’re good people! Together, we’re karma neutral.

Mac Johnson Humorist for the Energy Tribune

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