What is it with people? I don't dispute global warming, but, as I blogged on before
, can we have an intelligent conversation about it without people going nutso to the extreme, or making us all feel ashamed of flipping on a light switch?
Good example: Climbing Magazine (rock climbing mag), August 2007 issue had a commentary on page one by the editor who lamented about the carbon footprint he was using by driving his mini-SUV 300 miles to the crag. Then he wailed about how much carbon was created by the companies that manufactured his expensive Pantagonia climbing clothes, his rope and gear, and even his iPod. Then the next few pages have ads for just such things and half the stories in the mag were on going on "epic" climbs to far-off places like Vietnam, Scotland, etc. This is the kind of talk that is self-loathing, insincere, and that no one can really take seriously.
Two interesting articles yesterday. First, a story about how lawmakers favor carbon caps on businesses, while economists favor a tax. A carbon cap is a carbon credit allocation that each company gets for emissions. The company can't go over the carbon cap without extreme penalties. "Greener" companies can trade their excess carbon credits to relative "carbon hogs". A whole trade of carbon credits is envisioned within just a few years.
Companies will, of course, pass any overhead to us as higher prices. They will not likely be scared or penalized into developing new technologies.
I personally believe that green will only "take" when companies are urged to innovate and create green products for the marketplace. Example: hybrid cars. Some of those things are premium products, but there is an ever-increasing market for green products. I also think that companies that have carbon caps will not be able to compete against China and India that do not have carbon caps. Do we want even more migration of businesses?
Or we can, as some economists see it, tax individuals. The tax burden on driving your car will supposedly eventually choke you into cutting back.
Companies can also offset their carbon usage, like you and I can, by paying someone to plant a tree. So they can buy indulgences for their sins. Al Gore says he lives a "carbon neutral" lifestyle, although he flies everywhere, rides in a limo, and has a huge mansion. He's not reducing anything, he's just buying indulgences in wind farms and tree farms to offset his sins.
Carbon offsets and carbon caps are already in place in some companies in Europe and some multinationals are already trading credits or planning to do so. The figuring for how much carbon a company or individual is actually using will likely be ridiculous, if we use many of the recent news stories as a litmus test:
Slash Meat Consumption to Tackle Climate Change and Cool the Earth by Eating Less Meat. Just two of the stories that were all over the news yesterday. Cow manure creates methane which is said to accelerate global warming. Fertilizer is said to increase it as well. PETA jumped on that bandwagon. Okay, so fertilizing the ground to grow enough veggies for the world wouldn't have the same effect? Of course, there is always Soylent Green.
"Soylent Green is People!!"
Come on. Most of us eat meat and like meat (I do!). The (meat=global warming) argument is an example of the extreme, off-topic, tangential thinking that belabors the climate debate and just gives more ammo for the talk radio types. Plus it makes it harder for the average person to take any of this seriously and maybe focus on solutions that don't hurt them or throw the country into a recession. Let's work on something easier to tackle: Burning coal is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. Although there are cleaner methods to burn coal, and different grades of coal that have less sulfur by-products, coal plants burn the dirtiest coal because it is highly available and it is the cheapest (economics and supply and demand always win out). To add to the situation, China is ramping up coal burning exponentially. And China and India are not included in any carbon emission controls.
I have two words for the situation:
or, as GW would call it, Nukular Power.
Nuclear power is vastly more "green" and efficient. Many countries in Europe get the bulk of their power from nuclear power. Yet the environmentalists and greens have kept nuclear power off the table.
Or maybe I need to figure out how to get into the carbon offset credit business. "Sure, we can plant a tree for you for $$$. This will offset your carbon usage on that vacation today and make your conscience a little less burdened!"