Saturday, September 29, 2007

Volkswagen Subscribes to Carbon Offset Scam

Carbon offset firms are popping up everywhere ready to take your money and cash in on the man-made global warming swindle. Now VW aims to offset your guilt with their own version.

VW gives up on used-car sales guy tactics like undercoating and gold packages in favor of Carbon Offsets!

Funds collected will be "put-toward re-forestation the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley as a chosen means of carbon neutralization, aka the VW forest."

Global Warming hysteria is fast becoming big business. And an even bigger scam.

In some cases, people paying for carbon offsets to curb global warming might be buying good feelings and little else.

With a click, a credit card and $99, visitors can pay a Silver Spring, Md., nonprofit group,, to "offset" a year's worth of greenhouse-gas emissions. Whatever the customer put in to the atmosphere — by flying, driving, using electricity — the site promises to cancel out, by funding projects that reduce pollutants.

Sites such as this one, offering absolution from climate guilt, have created a $55 million industry that once would have been beyond the greenest of imaginations.

A detailed look reveals an unregulated market where some improvements bought by customers are only estimated, extrapolated, hoped-for or nil. Some offsets support projects that would have gone forward anyway. Others deliver results difficult to measure., for example, has advertised offsets that finance wind farms and tree-planting projects. But some wind farms said the donations haven't led to anything new. And the benefits from some tree projects were unclear enough that no longer uses them to back offsets.

...the Federal Trade Commission said it would look into whether consumers are being adequately protected.

For individual consumers, an offset can be a tempting alternative to a lifestyle makeover. People concerned about climate change could sell their cars and cover their roofs with solar panels. Or, on an offset site, they could become "carbon neutral" with a click.

Or so they think.

But scientists and researchers have begun to warn consumers that it's not that simple.

The Sierra Club advises simply avoiding offsets, unless you already have remade your life to be climate-friendly.

"We would recommend that, instead of taking that $100 and buying a carbon offset, that you" invest in something such as energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, spokesman Joshua Dorner said.


Anonymous said...

A tree will absorb an estimated 1 ton of carbon from the atmosphere over the course of its lifetime. Plant a tree, remove a ton of carbon. That's how offsets work. It's not magic, or an absolution of sin. The reason there are organizations around to do it for you is because it's more efficient, and easier, than doing it yourself. Carbonfund can plant 10,000 trees much easier and for less money than 10,000 people all taking the time to go plant their own. It's not rocket science.

Eric said...

Carbon offsets are not about indulgences.

Instead, a good motto is:
1. reduce what you can and
2. offset what you can't.

We are all responsible for climate change and we all must be part of the solution.

If wearing clothes, eating food and driving to grandma's for Thanksgiving are indulgences, don't do them. Otherwise, you have two choices: offset the carbon footprint caused by them, or not.

Offsets both empower you to take responsibility for your climate impact today, and drive new, cleaner technologies, such as wind and solar, so one day they are widespread and economical against coal and gas.

The goal of offsets is to help drive clean technologies below their dirty technology counterparts so that Wall Stree simply invests in, say, wind energy, based on economics. That will create a ceiling on emissions and a gradual decline.

Offsets are also empowering just a couple million people to take on Big Oil, Big Coal and other polluting industries. Just 2-3 million people choosing green power could drive the price of wind below coal causing a market transformation. And they could do it voluntarily.

It would be the great environmental end-around.

If we assume we will not have meaningful climate change legislation between now and January 09, and likely not for at least 6-8 months after, personal reductions followed by certified carbon offsets and green power offer our best chance of solving climate change now.

Not bad for about $100 bucks a year.

Bike Bubba said...

But what if the promised "offset" actually isn't enacted, gentlemen? That's the point here; not that it's impossible to offset one's carbon use, but rather that the "offsets" for carbon use are not actually being implemented as promised.

And no, people paying extra for wind power would NOT drive the cost below that for coal. It would hide some of the cost, but the cost of wind power would still be around 10 cents/kW-H, and the cost for coal generation would still be around 4 cents/kW-H. The cost to create the generators, blades, and pedestals (etc..) for wind power remains an "Inconvenient Truth" for wind power advocates.

And you'd get a pile of dead birds to rival anything that Tyson has produced. How's THAT for environmentally sound?

redBeard said...

I have to admit that I find fault with many of the carbon offset programs. This is really too bad as I consider myself somewhat of an earth muffin.

I think for many people they end up as indulgences.

I definitely have no problem with people investing directly in projects that are held accountable by some governing organization. For example, I'm working with my brother (who now runs the 'ol family farm) investigating methane digesters for a group of local farmers. They're thinking of forming their own co-op. Good for them.

However, I do have a problem with people who drive their SUV by themselves to the bank to write a check for their carbon offset investment.....

Concerning the price of 'green' electricity falling because of more demand, that runs counter to the law of supply and demand 'parrot' everyone learned about in macro-economics 101 in college. In a completely free market, the more demand of a product the higher the cost will be.

Bike Bubba said...

Regarding wind power, you theoretically could get the production of the towers to a scale where the fixed costs were less by subsidizing it for a while. However, that's theoretical, not real; any good financial guy is going to be able to point out to potential investors that "the fixed costs are paid, now invest while the marginal cost is going to be 3cents/kWH."

Since that hasn't happened, I'm guessing that wind has wrested about all the economies of scale out of the equation that it can. Sad to say, we're still at about a dime/kWH or so.

And well said, Redbeard. Al Gore is the new Tetzel, promising Heaven to environmentalists but leading them straight to Hell.

Environmentally speaking, at least.

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