I have always thought that the buying of carbon offset credits was a waste of money, but now I have confirmation. Heifer International’s (one of my favorite charities) WorldArk magazine, which you can read online right here, has an article about carbon offsets that says what I have been saying all along – “It sounds too good to be true: Pay a small fee every time you flew or drove, and somewhere, a company would plant a tree or build a wind farm to ‘neutralize’ the carbon emitted by your actions”. And indeed, it is too good to be true – you cannot assuage any eco-guilt you have from flying by donating $15 to a faceless offset company, because your money probably does nothing at all. It turns out that up to 75% of all offsets sold are completely useless, according to a study done by The Christian Science Monitor:
They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.
Wanna really make a difference? Fly less and only when necessary, combine trips, try software that enables companies to have online meetings, or at the very least, do the physical work needed to actually plant a tree. That carbon offset check you write may make you feel better, but it certainly isn’t helping the planet feel any better.
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