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Carbon Offsets

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written an article. I’ve been recovering from a pretty major surgery a few weeks ago. Although I haven’t been physically able to do things, I have been able to catch up on my reading and watch a lot of TV, something I usually never get the chance to do.

I watched former Vice-President Al Gore’s appearance before a congressional committee. He answered questions from the committee and presented his 10 point plan to help combat global warming. Of course following this, all the news channels began their debates on Vice-President Gore’s testimony and global warming in general. One show really struck a bad chord with me, but let me recap a small bit to catch you up:

Questions were raised during the committee on Gore’s own energy use and the size of his home in Tennessee. The former Vice-President responded that he pays extra to use wind-generated electricity. This does not mean that he has a windmill on his property, what it does mean is he pays other companies, which have invested in renewable energy, a fee depending on one’s own carbon use, whether it is from a home or vehicle. They call this offsetting carbon emissions. You may have heard the term carbon neutral or climate neutral. Carbon offsets allow businesses or individuals the opportunity to reduce their CO2 by paying someone somewhere else to reduce CO2 emissions through renewable energy efforts, improving energy efficiency, and restoring forests.

Many people do this, me included, but here’s the part that got me. Many political pundits got the message misconstrued. I couldn’t believe it was implied, whether intentionally or not, that you could continue to live wastefully in regards to energy use as long as you pay for carbon offsets! That’s not the case! Reduction of your Carbon footprint is first and foremost. I do believe some news commentators were being sarcastic. I also believe the real message is starting to get lost, and because of such, people like Al Gore and other environmentally concerned individuals get accused of not “walking the talk”, “is pushing his own political agenda”, “do as I say and not as I do”, and here’s the best one I’ve read, “has started a quasi-religious movement”.

He has a home that would be hard pressed to get a LEED certification due to its size and use of energy (more than the average American home) and he flies to all of his speaking engagements in a private airplane. Upon hearing this it made me laugh….rather uncomfortably (could the detractors be right!). But in his defense he lives in an exclusive community that will not allow the use of solar panels! This made me laugh even harder! Editor note: This is suppose to change come April 1.

Whether you believe that climate change is as serious as some say or not, know this we must focus our time and money on energy research to reduce greenhouse gases. Whether it be through carbon caps or even taxes, who knows, we can’t even all agree on the fact that global warming exists – and I would be the first to admit that sometimes the opponents to global warming make some very compelling arguments. But I think we all can agree on the fact that no one can possibly make an argument that it’s okay for us to continue to pollute the atmosphere in the manner that we do.

To learn more about carbon offsetting or purchase carbon offsets please visit these links

Carbon Fund
Green Tags
Native Energy

*Native Energy is the only carbon offset program that worked with Al Gore on the award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. They offset the emissions from the movie and book as well as Mr. Gore's travels!

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