Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Carbon Offsets are Holier than Yours

We go to Healdsburg 2-3 times a month. And the Honda Pilot (Aiyah!) is always involved - even if I take the GG Transit 72X bus up, my wife drives up. It drives me batshit insane but the problem is that even though bikes on transit is improving, and the 72X is really good and connects to SC Transit #60, Dogs on Transit is just not happening (you can actually take a muzzled dog on SF MUNI, but that won't get us
to Healdsburg).

I soothed my nerves and conscience with some "Carbon Offsets" last weekend. I have been a very harsh critic of the whole concept of offsets. That money people pay to "offset" their carbon is not paying the "Hoover C02 Vacuum Company" to suck the
CO2 from the air. And even if they are planting a tree out in Madagascar to suck in CO2, most of the money is going into administrative costs, and the net effect of that tree is debateable (and perhaps we should be reforesting even if we DON'T drive to Chez Panisse and take BART instead).

Anyway, instead of cutting a check, I planted 2 "Flowering Pear" trees in our yard. OK, there are my offsets. Of course, how much C02 this will take out of the air is debatable (I am as self-flagellating as I am self-congratulatory).

1) I didn't plant them from seed, the trees already existed. Of course, by buying the 6 foot tree, the Felton Urban Tree Farm will plant some new starts.

2) We had to get in the car AGAIN to go get the trees. How long until I offset just that trip!

3) Does planting a tree do anything? Among other nagging questions "Some researchers suggest forests in the snowy North might actually increase local warming by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected into space. And dead, decaying trees release some of that captured carbon back into the atmosphere." (the flowering pear is deciduous).

On the bright side - Measure Q passed! No dogs I am sure, but it's still a good omen.

1 comment:

Green Topaz said...

That was nice of you to plant some trees. Now go get yourself a bazillion free carbon offsets and waste a sheet of card stock to print out the fancy certificate and nail it to one of those trees.