You probably know that you should do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint – the greenhouse gas emissions produced by your lifestyle. After you've done that, you can negate what remains by supporting projects to reduce emissions elsewhere – that is, by purchasing "carbon offsets". This works because, from a global warming perspective, it doesn't matter where the carbon comes from.
Carbon offsets are a good idea, but it's hard to know whether a given project truly reduces carbon emissions. There are no unified standards. To help you make good choices, Environmental Defense Fund has just published CarbonOffsetList.org, a guide to high-quality offset projects for businesses and consumers. These are projects that we would turn to for our own offset needs. Check it out!
This post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.
The author of today's post, Sheryl Canter, is an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.
Carbon offsets are a good idea that, unfortunately, without guidelines, can be implemented badly. The basic idea is to reduce and then offset the carbon emissions produced by your lifestyle by funding projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. This works because, from a global warming perspective, it doesn't matter where the carbon comes from. A reduction anywhere reduces the global total.
But how do you know a given offset is truly reducing carbon emissions?
You hear a lot of talk these days about "carbon footprints". But what is a carbon footprint, anyway?
Carbon dioxide (CO2), while not the only greenhouse gas, is the most abundant. CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels, and most of the energy in this country comes from burning fossil fuels. Thus, anything that requires energy to manufacture, transport, or operate causes the emission of CO2 (see my previous post, The Carbon Footprint of… Everything).
A "carbon footprint" is the amount of CO2 released by an activity or entity. So what's your carbon footprint?
ignoratio elenchi n.
A logical fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but has nothing to do with the proposition it purports to prove. Also known as "irrelevant conclusion". [Lat. ignorance of refutation.]
Al Gore's response to charges of being an energy hog was that he buys carbon offsets to neutralize his carbon emissions. This sounded bogus to a lot of people, but in fact it's not.