Talk:Carbon offset

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The previous state of the article wasn't exactly correct, since carbon offsetting is not actually offsetting the "polluting" effects of CO2. As the article correctly pointed out, CO2 is not a pollutant. Because of this, I have removed the "deceit" category; whether or not carbon offsets do anything can be argued, but they aren't deceitful. I have inserted a little closer definition of carbon offsetting, as well as inserted an example. I also added the interesting fact that planting trees doesn't reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. HelpJazz 00:30, 14 September 2007 (EDT)


These credits delay the take up of more carbon-efficent industries and technologies because peopele [sic] believe that they are doing an environmentally friendly thing {{fact}}.

I'm not entirely sure what this means, but it seems like an uncited opinion. The fact tag has been there since November. HelpJazz 21:50, 3 January 2008 (EST)

"While carbon is consumed by the tree during growth, the exact same amount of carbon is produced during decomposition. The net carbon gain, therefore, is zero over the entire lifecycle of the tree." You know, I don't think this is quite true either, but I'll have to check before I make a change. (Actually, I see a lot of things I don't think are quite true.)--Frey 17:38, 2 October 2008 (EDT)

It's true in a broader sense. Most of the decomposition directly breaks the tree down into CO2, or into products which are broken down into CO2. The rest of the carbon finds itself in other forms (cell structures of bacteria, and so on), all of which have a final form as CO2. I've got an atmospheric science text book burried somewhere in the house, but I'm sure you can find reputible sources online as well. This fact is the reason that some people jokingly (or half-jokingly) say that we should cut down trees, wrap them in plasic and send them to the bottom of the ocean. This would have the effect of lowering total CO2 in the atmosphere, but environmentalists would have a hissy fit. HelpJazz 14:05, 4 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, if you take the time line out long enough, you're 100% right of course. But what I'm thinking of are certain forms of soil organic matter that are resistant to breakdown, so they're very long lived. I'd have to check to see what percentage of the tree's carbon goes into those forms, but some of them can last for several centuries before being turned into CO2.--Frey 14:31, 4 October 2008 (EDT)

Carbon offsets sure make the globe-trotting elites feel good, but the morality of it would be no different from (a purely hypothetical situation follows!) my husband buying "wife beating" offsets from his buddy, who promises not to smack his wife so my husband could keep smacking me. Two wrongs never make a right, and it is erroneous to think two wrongs cancel out if one wrong is "balanced" by the conversion of a second wrong to neutral, with a corresponding transfer of "credits". SarahFan

The two aren't really the same thing... HelpJazz 14:48, 4 October 2008 (EDT)
Well, the metaphor sort of partially works, because the "wife-beating credit" system does cause the overall level of wife-beating to go down. In the case of carbon credits (if the system is set up properly), the cutting of carbon emissions is routed to the places where it's easist and cheapest to do so, so you cut CO2 by the amount you want while minimizing any negative economic impact.--Frey 15:00, 4 October 2008 (EDT)
The difference is you can't hit your wife a negative number of times, but you can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. HelpJazz 15:05, 4 October 2008 (EDT)