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The Inexact Science of Carbon Neutrality

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the these-are-not-weight-watcher-exchanges dept.

Earth 302

snydeq writes "Sustainable IT's Ted Samson raises questions regarding the purchasing of carbon offsets, a practice growing in popularity among tech companies such as Dell, Yahoo, and Google in an attempt to achieve 'carbon neutrality.' Essentially financial instruments, carbon offsets enable companies to invest money in sustainable endeavors in an attempt to counteract the carbon footprint they incur conducting their business. But as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal shows, measuring the value of these carbon offsets is tricky business, as some recipients of offsets say the results of their sustainable efforts would be achieved regardless of any one company's investment. 'The question of whether carbon offsets hold value just scratches the surface of the overall carbon-neutrality question,' Samson writes. 'For the time being, there isn't even a consistent approach to measuring an organization's carbon footprint in the first place. And if you don't know how much CO2 you're responsible for, how do you know how much offsetting is necessary to become neutral?'"

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302 comments

Bullshit (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379549)

Doesn't anyone watch Penn and Teller? They already covered it [wattsupwiththat.com].

Re:Bullshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379557)

you ruined a perfectly good first post opportunity, douchebag.

A first post should be more like this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379579)

If I was a nigger, I could drive a Cadillac with class
My pocket stuffed with welfare checks, and I could sit on my big black ass
Now you take a nigger, he aint nobody's fool
He doesn't buy any gasoline, to drive his kids to school

Our government has gone crazy, I'd change things if I could
If I was only a nigger, I could afford to live in a white neighborhood
Oh the things that I could do, if i was black and Hell-bent
I could send my kids to college, and it wouldn't cost me one damn cent

The wife and I were down on our luck, we were really getting uptight
They said at the welfare office, "You aint black, you're white."
Oh how I've tried to get a job, a diploma I had with pride
The post office man laughed, and said "You're not dark enough to even qualify"

I took a civil service exam, and passed it without shame
A nigger took one next to me, he couldnt even write his own name
The nigger, he got the job, now he's government top brass
He couldn't qualify for a trash truck, while I'm out on the street on my ass

If I was a Jesse Jackson, I'd be nobody's slob
Wearing $500.00 dollar suits, that nigger hasn't even got a job
If I was Barack Obama, I could sit back and relax
And when sworn in as President, I could paint The White House black

Damn, I wish I was a nigger

If I was a jig-a-boo, I could find me my roots
With a afro big as a watermelon, and a pair of white disco boots
If I was only dark complected, I could stand tall in this life
I could live high off the hog, just me and my white wife

Things used to be segregated, but things are a little off-key
I've never seen a white man as head of the NAACP
It aint that I don't like a nigger, if I've rubbed you wrong by chance
Take a look at that mistletoe hanging on the seat of my pants

If I was a kinky top, I could be a Martin Luther King
I'd have me a vision on a mountain top, my song the whole world would sing
I could have me a peace march on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee
I could tear up the whole damn city, and the police wouldn't dare stop me

A lot of things in life I know, but one thing I cant figure
Why a nigger can call me a honkey and I cant call a nigger, a nigger
If I was a jungle bunny, I could ring a golden bell
I could be a Mohammed Ali, and be loved by Howard Cosell

Damn, I wish I was a nigger

If I was a golliwogg, 7 foot tall and lean,
I could be a famous player on the Washington basketball team
If I was only chocolate brown, I could have me some turnip greens
A possum fat and watermelon, chitlens and a pot of butter beans

Now when Martin Luther King was buried in Washington with class
They put him face down in his box, so the politicians could kiss his ass
I guess its just politics, but it sure gets my goat
Kiss assing with a nigger, just so you could get his vote

If i was only a burr-head, I'd live high on the hill
Selling cocaine and prostitutes, and popping all kinds of pills
Now take the NAACP, they can march and raise all kinds of hell
Let the KKK start to move, and they'll all wind up in jail

I dreamed my life was over, I heard Saint Peter say,
"Today we're taken only niggers, you've gotta go the other way"
Then I heard the Devil, he said "I heard what Peter had to say
But I'm sorry to tell you son, Today in Hell is Nigger Day."

Damn, don't you wish you were a nigger?

Re:A first post should be more like this (1, Interesting)

kiwijapan (1293632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381149)

To Admins: Will somebody please block the IPs of the adolescent, racist, small-minded morons who insist on posting this type of message. I know that I could raise the level of posts to read in order to block these out myself, but I shouldn't have to. I don't mind the majority of trolls or flamebait, but this is getting ridiculous. And yes, I really that the purpose of these posts is to incite this type of response, but their are too many intolerant, ignorant people in the world now without pathetic idiots like this influencing others.

Re:A first post should be more like this (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381371)

You answered your own question.

Don't feed the trolls and they will get bored and move on. Your post fed them for another 2 weeks.

Re:Bullshit (0, Redundant)

NickW1234 (1313523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379917)

Just because it's on TV doesn't make it true. And just because Penn and Teller call anyone who disagrees with them 4$$holes doesn't add any credibility IMHO. They just found someone from a credible sounding organization who says that everyone else is full of crap and there's no scientific basis. That doesn't mean he's right. There's plenty of credible sounding "environmental" and "science" organizations that are paid by the oil companies to research this stuff. You think they're going to be perfectly scientific and objective when their paycheques are riding on it?

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380259)

Just because it's on TV doesn't make it true. And just because Penn and Teller call anyone who disagrees with them 4$$holes doesn't add any credibility IMHO. They just found someone from a credible sounding organization who says that everyone else is full of crap and there's no scientific basis. That doesn't mean he's right. There's plenty of credible sounding "environmental" and "science" organizations that are paid by the oil companies to research this stuff. You think they're going to be perfectly scientific and objective when their paycheques are riding on it?

Dude, just shut up. Penn and Teller are awesome and every show they say things like "We are not scientists and we do bullshit examples". The entire point to their show is to make you think and to be skeptical about things. AND YEAH Carbon Credits apply.. they look like a total fraud.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380725)

You think they're going to be perfectly scientific and objective when their paycheques are riding on it?

No more than I think that the ones paid by governments and environmental cultists will be.

So to evaluate the arguments one must go further than looking at the fact that research takes money and the provenance of a researchers budget tends to correlate with their opinion on the issue. You have to take a look at the actual scientific merits of the work done.

One doesnt need any particular knowledge of a given field to check whether or not fundamentals of scientific method are being applied and whether arguments are logical and supported or not.

The endless repetition of fallacious arguments such as those referencing 'scientific consensus' (which, even if it did exist on this issue which it clearly does not, is still an entity with precisely ZERO place in the scientific method) by those on one side in particular stands out like a sore thumb. So does the way that political control of funding is exploited to silence skeptical scientists. It is certainly true that most funding for skeptical scientific research on the subject comes from organisations that have a clear vested interest in minimising the issue - but equally clear this is a natural consequence when public funding is provisioned only to those researchers who play ball with the envirocultists. A real scientist in such a situation has no option but to go to the private corporations for funding or retire from the field entirely.

This doesnt mean either side is wrong. If you have multiple funding sources with multiple agendas, each is naturally going to tend to fund researchers that tend to support their agenda. The researchers themselves, if they are good scientists, will simply do the research properly and if it displeases their funding source they'll go to a different source who DID like their results for their next grant - this is much easier said than done, it's inconvenient at best, and runs the risk of failing and leaving the scientist and her family in deep difficulty, but still, if you want to be a scientist that's what you have to do.

If they're NOT good scientists, they'll just play ball and make sure that their reports favour the right side to avoid the issue. To see which one is happening in any individual case, there's no substitute for a critical review of the work itself. Simply correlating results with funding sources doesnt mean anything.

Frankly I dont doubt that human pollution is having and will continue to have consequences on the climate of the planet - I cant think of anyone that does. But that fact tells us nothing about whether the affect is large or small, beneficial or damaging, let alone what, if any, actions would actually moderate or reverse the affects (assuming that doing so is desirable.) Despite that global warming enthusiasts are constantly making policy prescriptions which, just coincidentally, always wind up being that we should do what environmental cultists have always wanted to do for their own religious reasons.

The logical conclusion is that these people are full of %*!&, particularly when they claim to be scientists (to be a scientist is to understand and implement the scientific method, not to wear a lab coat and have a 'sciencey' job title,) and if they happen to be getting anything right in their predictions at all, it's an accident.

Re:Bullshit (1, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381169)

Excellent you are appealing to the scientific method and skepticisim, and failing to use either.

BTW: Consensus is an integral part of science, it's implied every time you hear the phrase "scientists say". Now go and use your skepticisim to find out what the overwhelming majority of scientists actually say on the subject and get back to us when you can scientifically refute one or more of the three claims that are made by EVERY national science body on the planet.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381427)

One doesnt need any particular knowledge of a given field to check whether or not fundamentals of scientific method are being applied and whether arguments are logical and supported or not.

Oh really? Are you competent to evaluate controversial issues in high-energy physics? Synthetic organic chemistry? Structural bioinformatics? Or is it only in regards to climatology where you think you have some magical insight which people who have worked and studied in the field for years lack?

'scientific consensus' (which, even if it did exist on this issue which it clearly does not,

A vast majority of the world's working climatologists isn't a consensus? I'm curious as to what you would consider constituting a consensus. 99%? 99.9%? Would you insist that there is no consensus so long as there is one dissenting voice, no matter how much of a crank that dissenter might be?

is still an entity with precisely ZERO place in the scientific method)

With regard to the methods of science, you're partly right -- obviously it's true that science isn't done by consensus, else no new science would ever be done at all. (I say "partly" because all scientists in the modern world build on the knowledge gained by their predecessors, and that knowledge is passed on by, yes, consensus in the field.) But with regard to the body of knowledge we call "science," you're dead wrong. Politicians aren't scientists. Lobbyists aren't scientists. Activists, as a rule, aren't scientists. Hell, when it comes to dealing with fields outside their expertise, scientists aren't scientists; my opinion as a bioinformatician is of absolutely no more import to the climatological debate than any other reasonably well-informed layman's, which is to say, not much. Which means that when it comes to setting policy based on science, it is the responsibility of those who do not work in the field to shut up and listen to those who do -- and when scientists in a particular field overwhelmingly agree, those outside the field have absolutely no credibility arguing with them.

So does the way that political control of funding is exploited to silence skeptical scientists. It is certainly true that most funding for skeptical scientific research on the subject comes from organisations that have a clear vested interest in minimising the issue - but equally clear this is a natural consequence when public funding is provisioned only to those researchers who play ball with the envirocultists.

Do you have any evidence for these statements? At all?

to be a scientist is to understand and implement the scientific method, not to wear a lab coat and have a 'sciencey' job title

To refer to "the scientific method" as though it were a single thing is to show that one's understanding of science is limited to half-remembered lessons from high-school "science class." And to imply, as you strongly do, that working scientists aren't really scientists because their results disagree with your politics is to show that you are an ideologue with no interest in science beyond how it can serve your agenda.

We put up solar panels (4, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379597)

I'm not sure about carbon neutral, but we've seen a our power bill go down by 90%. Still, it will take about 4 - 5 years to recoup the investment, but if you view it as a sunk cost, it's freed up a lot of cash flow.

Re:We put up solar panels (3, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379755)

I am curious, is there a way to calculate the carbon emissions created by the manufacturing, transportation and installation of the panels or have you only done the financial cost/benefit analysis for the project? And if there is a way to calculate it, what are the benefits, if any?

This is a serious question btw.

Re:We put up solar panels (5, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380173)

We didn't even bother to consider it because we didn't do it to be "Green". We did it because we had the cash on hand, the tax write off for the investment expired in December, and by switching to solar we freed up enough money to pay for another developers salary.

Get fat and sequester carbon... (4, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380321)

Now THAT is how the real world works. Congratulations on making a sound investment. Carbon trading is so obviously a useless bullshit scam. The real damage done is in the fact that people think it actually works and hence ignore other actually beneficial measures.

I'd love to do a parody website about the environmental benefits of obesity. After all, human fat is a fairly dense hydrocarbon. The fatter you become, the more carbon is sequestered. Imagine the environmental benefits if everyone in the US gained 30 lbs! A billion pounds of carbon sequestered! Woo-hoo!

Re:Get fat and sequester carbon... (1)

Esvandiary (1302095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381135)

Imagine the environmental benefits if everyone in the US gained 30 lbs! A billion pounds of carbon sequestered! Woo-hoo!

... and just maybe every woman on Earth might no longer be pressured into trying to be so thin that they'll probably end up with anorexia nervosa.

Well, we can hope, eh? :)

Re:Get fat and sequester carbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381349)

You can keep the fatties, I like that my woman doesn't look like a ten-wheeler.

Re:Get fat and sequester carbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381197)

Carbon trading is so obviously a useless bullshit scam.

EXACTLY! It's just another way parasitic third party speculators have managed to manipulate something that should be a big positive for many and turn it into something that is only a big positive for themselves. Perhaps there should be "progressive" trading, where the biggest tax break is given to those that cut their own impact and a significantly smaller cut to those who rely on "buying" someone else's efforts.

Re:Get fat and sequester carbon... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381287)

Note that in the "real world" of which you speak, the reason it was economical for GPP to put up solar panels was because of the tax writeoff -- i.e., governments setting environmental policy. Imagine that.

Re:Get fat and sequester carbon... (1)

ectotherm (842918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381509)

Kudos- well said! Carbon trading is nothing more that this year's hula hoop. By the way, I can get you a great deal on algae farm futures... ;)

Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379617)

The whole concept is junk science. It's basically saying that you can urinate in someone's swimming pool if you filter an equal amount of salt out of the ocean.

The real world doesn't work that way. In the real world, local effects are just as bad as global effects, and there's no guarantee that opposite local effects in two places will ever actually cancel each other out. It's a nice way to help people feel good about themselves, but in the grand scheme of things, it is naive to think that carbon offsets, no matter how large, can undo the damage of the carbon you shouldn't have emitted in the first place....

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1, Interesting)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379697)

Well it's more like saying that if a thousand people take a leak in the Indian Ocean and you filter out a roughly equivilant amount of piss from the Atlantic that you're neutral.

You're right in the sense that you're not purely neutral, and you're right in the sense that it may never be truly neutral, but a swimming pool is disconnected from the ocean, whereas all the air is connected.

In the end it's not perfect, and it'd be better not to piss in the ocean at all, but if you have to metaphorically piss in the sea, it's better to filter it out somewhere as opposed to nowhere.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (2, Interesting)

EbeneezerSquid (1446685) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379843)

Except for the fact that CO2 is a very poor Greenhouse gas (how's the weather by the way? Love that Global warming, don't you?). A far, far superior greenhouse gas is even more common, and when CO2 gets filtered out, it get's replaced with this gas.

Noone mentions it though. Why? Because the Gas which is four to eight times more efficient at reflecting sunlight out into space is O2.

Oxygen

Here's an idea - Let's ban the release of Oxygen into the atmosphere! Maybe get some of the green-peacers out of there boats and start them on burning down forests! /sarcasm

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379931)

Get the fuck out of here with your logic and science. These have no place in a discussion about the environment!

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379963)

From wikipedia:

Although contributing to many other physical and chemical reactions, the major atmospheric constituents, nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O2), and argon (Ar), are not greenhouse gases. This is because homonuclear diatomic molecules such as N2 and O2 and monatomic molecules such as Ar have no net change in their dipole moment when they vibrate and hence are almost totally unaffected by infrared light.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380223)

Greenhouse gases aren't a concern because they reflect sunlight, they are a concern because they reflect infrared. The Sun emits in the visible spectrum because its surface has a temperature of about 6000 K. The Earth's surface has a temperature of about 300 K, thus it emits infrared.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381301)

Closer. Greenhouse gases *absorb* infrared.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

lm317t (971782) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380671)

I wanted to mod your comment insightful but got distracted when I tried to scroll down with the arrow keys on the keyboard b/c I saw another interesting comment below yours. This of course scrolled the moderation menu down to flamebait and this became submitted when I clicked on the page. Stupid slashdot javascript. I'm a big boy and I can handle a submit button. So because the only way I could find to cancel it is to submit this boring comment. Oh well

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381395)

"Noone mentions it though. Why?"

Same reason that phrenology is not mentioned, ie: it's utter bullshit.

"Here's an idea - Let's ban the release of Oxygen into the atmosphere!"

Here's a different idea, get a clue [realclimate.org].

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

NickW1234 (1313523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380235)

Fine, if you want to donate some money to an environmental research or alternative energy organization that's awesome, but it's no alternative for being more efficient to begin with.

Carbon credits, as they are now are just a marketing tool. It allows a company to be "green" in trade for cash, instead of efficiency.

It's like hybrid cars. Hybrid cars aren't GOOD for the environment, they're just slightly less bad. It's not okay to waste energy just because you're wasting less of it.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380599)

> You're right in the sense that you're not purely neutral, and you're right in the sense that it may never be truly neutral, but a swimming pool is disconnected from the ocean, whereas all the air is connected.

Well, not really. For instance, Ozone up really high, good. Ozone down really low, not good.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381165)

Except that the ozone doesn't last long enough to move between the two zones, whereas CO2 does last long enough to largely equalize concentrations around the globe.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379723)

That's ridiculous. Unlike noxious-fume pollution, no one is in the least bit worried about the "local effects" of carbon dioxide. It already makes up billions of tons of atmosphere. It only does "damage" in the aggregate. The aggregate is all that matters.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379873)

In the real world, local effects are just as bad as global effects

Perhaps, but it depends on the pollutants. Lead emissions are a local problem (although there is archaeological evidence of airborne lead pollution in Northern Europe from Roman industry, hundreds of miles away). CO2 is a pollutant that has little local impact, even in comparison to the water emissions from combustion. Except in special circumstances, it has no local significance whatsoever. CO2 is a global pollutant. It makes perfect sense to sequester carbon in a Canadian oil field to offset emissions from a natural gas power plant in the US, because what we are concerned with are long term changes in average CO2 concentration across the globe. In that case, the swimming pool is the entire atmosphere, which would not be the case for things like CO or particulates.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (3, Insightful)

dwarfking (95773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380283)

When did CO2, which is an absolute necessity for the foliage that covers this planet, become a pollutant? Without CO2 we have no plants. Without plants we have no food and less oxygen. Do we consider Oxygen a pollutant as well?

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380575)

When did CO2, which is an absolute necessity for the foliage that covers this planet, become a pollutant?

When Al Gore found it convenient to do so.

-jcr

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381231)

Too much oxygen is bad for you. Too little is also bad. The fact that some CO2 is a necessary component of our atmosphere has very little bearing on whether some larger amount is better, worse, or about the same. There are a *wide* variety of substances that are important in small amounts and problematic in large amounts. It seems reasonable to consider them pollutants if they're man-made and at problematic levels.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380953)

Ok.
Over at NASAs Earth Observatory site, they have some interesting viewpoints and research together with images. There is a study (published 2006) that has been tracking the re-growth of forests after fires. Part of this work takes place in the far north of Canada, and Alaska.

Since the 1990s, scientists have known that increasing global temperatures have lengthened the growing season in the Arctic. With carbon dioxide, one of the key ingredients in photosynthesis, also on the rise, the forest should have been thriving. But it wasn't. The forest was getting browner, not greener.

They go on to discover that because of a warming climate, there are droughts occurring which deprive the forests of water, and so gradually they die. And although other trees can move in, they will suffer the same limitations. Overall, the effect is to reduce the amount of carbon held out of the atmosphere by trees, and also to extract less as time goes on leading to a higher build up of CO2, sooner.
Forest on the Threshold [nasa.gov]

And yes, pure Oxygen is poisonous.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381179)

The dose makes the poison. In high enough concentrations oxygen is an extremely hazardous material. So yes, you can pollute with oxygen.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381481)

Do we consider Oxygen a pollutant as well?

Try living in a 100% oxygen atmosphere at sea level pressure and let us know.

Anything can be a pollutant when the levels get too high. In some cases, the levels have to get very high to have a pollutant effect. In others ... they don't.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380043)

Yes it is a joke. Hunter gatherers without the agriculture
part are carbon neutral. Once you grow controlled crops or
harvested things, you have upset the natural balance. PERIOD.

Carbon NEUTRAL? No Such thing!!! EVER.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380275)

Hunter gatherers aren't carbon neutral, The human body produces C02. What is that off set by?

Ever is an awfully strong statement. There is a lot of uncertainty in both measuring carbon impact and any offsets. What you can say is that you are neutral within the margin of error of both measurements.

Do you see how less stupid that sounds?
And did you see how many less capitalized letters I used in words?
Feel free to imitate my style of communication, to improve other people's opinion of your thoughts. (although, you might want to skip this part where, I'm criticizing your style of communication, its not the most professional thing in the world to do in more formal situations. However, in this particular case your response was particularly irksome, and demonstrated a limited capacity for further discourse. I apologize if you think this bit to be a bit rude, but societal niceties should not impede the betterment of society. )

Not that easy (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380319)

Sorry to piss on someone's cult of the hunter-gatherer utopia parrade, but it didn't work that way.

Pre-historic hunter-gatherers caused the extinction of thousands of species and, for example, all the mega-fauna in the Americas. There are whole species, e.g., the mammoth, for which you can trace its shrinking habitat historically and it looks damn suspiciously like the opposite of the pattern of human spread. Yes, there were environment factors too, which probably were already making it harder for them to thrive, but nevertheless, wherever the humans went, the mammoths soon went extinct.

That's just one species out of _thousands_.

Hunter-gatherers in North America used "buffalo jumps" to herd whole herds of buffalo off cliffs and then eat the resulting mess of meat. They only got all in touch with nature when that source of food started to not be enough.

(And even then, an animist's idea of harmony with nature is giving back to the _spirits_, not to nature itself. If you hunt bears, you give offerings and prayers to the great bear spirits, whose job is to make sure you get plenty of bears to hunt. It was a pretty damn human-centric view of the world. And if they get to be scarce, then you just need to pray more and appease the spirits better, not, say, give the bears a fucking chance to repopulate.)

Humans are a pretty scary predator. Most other predator have 1-2 species of prey they depend on, creating equilibrium cycles. When the rabbits depopulate, some of the foxes starve too and don't breed as much either, giving the rabbits a chance to rebound. And viceversa. Humans have no such balancing factors. If the population of dodos drops, the humans still survive on fruits and other animals, and keep on hunting the dodos into extinction. And sometimes keep on hunting them just for fun, trophies, proof of manhood, or whatever. The hunter-gatherers did exactly the same too. Why do you think they had those feather headdresses, or wolf skins, or whatnot? To show how great hunters they are, even if they didn't actually need to eat that animal.

So measuring the ecological impact just in carbon is misleading at best, and freaking stupid at worst. Hunter-gatherers caused mass extinctions.

Re:Not that easy (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380639)

Pre-historic hunter-gatherers caused the extinction of thousands of species and, for example, all the mega-fauna in the Americas.

They also routinely set fires in forests and grasslands. As it turns out, that's not a bad idea if you want healthy forests or prairies.

-jcr

Re:Not that easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381507)

Pre-historic hunter-gatherers caused the extinction of thousands of species and, for example, all the mega-fauna in the Americas....Hunter-gatherers in North America used "buffalo jumps" to herd whole herds of buffalo off cliffs...

Maybe the "buffalo" went extinct but bison were doing extremely well living under the pressure of hunter-gatherers. As was most of the rest of North American wildlife (and African as another example). It was only when the bison were deliberately exterminated in large numbers by the descendants of Europeans that they came close to extinction.
That hunter-gatherers caused the extinction of North American mega-fauna is only a theory, one that always had a lot of holes and is facing increasing skepticism.
Most of the North American mega-fauna that went extinct disappeared at the same time the Clovis culture disappeared and new theories are putting forth evidence that perhaps they both fell to the same influence. They both disappeared at the start of a period of rapid climate change (the "Younger Dryas") which may or may not have been brought about by the impact of a comet on the ice sheet near Hudson Bay.
Not that I disagree that measuring ecological impact in only carbon is wrong. The real source of most, if not all, problems on the planet today is an exponentially increasing human population and the overall increased strain on global resources that occurs because of this.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380147)

The whole concept is junk science. It's basically saying that you can urinate in someone's swimming pool if you filter an equal amount of salt out of the ocean.

The real world doesn't work that way. In the real world, local effects are just as bad as global effects, and there's no guarantee that opposite local effects in two places will ever actually cancel each other out.

You do understand that the atmosphere is pretty good at mixing air, right? Bad analogies don't really help your argument. If you emit 1 kg of CO2 and then someone halfway around the world immediately removes 1 kg (after efficiency losses), the mixing in the atmosphere will cause the climate change potential to be zero.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380627)

And that's assuming your carbon offset money is actually going towards real carbon offsets.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381029)

It's even worse than that. It becomes a PR tool in the hands of people who have tremendously more interest in looking good, than actually doing the right thing, and what you end up with is Chevron giving you 60 second bites of "What fine stewards of the environment they are", when in fact their litany of environmental abuse is nothing less than shocking.

Also don't let all the talk by Oil companies about alternative energy fool you, no oil or coal producer spends anywhere near 1% of their net profit researching alternative energy... it's more of that PR campaigning to win hearts and minds and of course sell more of their product. Which by the way it I have no problem with, it's business' job to sell their product. I just would appreciate them being straight about what they actually do, and stop blowing smoke up the world's collective shorts.

They (business') power our technology. That power comes at the cost of adding carbon to the environment. We are, everyone one of us who uses the technology responsible for that. It is up to us, each and every one of us, to keep our purveyors honest, push our governments hard to provide powerful incentives to migrate to a more sustainable technology/economy, and work hard to reduce our environmental footprint. Forget the carbon PR. Tell the truth about what you generate. Make real strides in reducing your impact. Take responsibility for your actions. Then, as informed consumers, we'll be able to handle the truth, vote with our dollars, and help make the world a better place. Until that time, all we have is obfuscation and FUD.

Re:Carbon neutrality is a joke anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381383)

What more its also the disbelief that trees sequester carbon, sure they do for a short time but its an issue of the carbon cycle.
Plants store carbon living creatures eat that carbon and release it into the atmosphere essentially. This is a closed cycle, we unfortunately started digging up old carbon (oil) out of the ground from when the atmosphere had much much more carbon and releasing it into our previously closed cycle. Changing a factor in that closed cycle isn't going to do much, those trees are eventually going to rot and decay or be eaten or burned. A small fraction may make it back into the ground for long term storage, but this is not a good way of doing it.
 

Modern day Indulgences (3, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379655)

And nothing more.

Spend the money by planing some trees.

Cheat Neutral (4, Funny)

svnt (697929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379841)

My favorite commentary on carbon offsetting is Cheat Neutral [cheatneutral.com]

Brilliant way to make a statement. Yes, it is real. No, the creators don't keep the money. No, I'm not involved with the company/website.

Re:Cheat Neutral (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379949)

Bwahaha - That is a brilliant idea! I think the site would have been funnier though if their descriptions were worded the way an actual company with more subtle references to carbon offsets. Ie just tell the joke, don't explain it :)

Re:Cheat Neutral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380205)

It's much more fun if you link to the start page, no the about page that explains the joke.

Re:Modern day Indulgences (2, Interesting)

jmccay (70985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379901)

Well, planting the trees would work better. ;) Anyways, if you want to spend the money, spend it on planting tree, bushes and anything else that can consume greenhouse gases in cities and other Urban environments--like on top of buildings in New York City. Scientific American did an article (this [sciam.com]) on it, or if you prefer this [wikipedia.org] article from wikipedia. This would be more productive than falling for Al Gore's scams!

Right Wing Wackjob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380031)

Go crawl back under your rock you rightwing wackjob.

Re:Right Wing Wackjob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381479)

Yeah you right wing wack job, stop providing evidence. Environmentalism is about feel good, not science!

Re:Modern day Indulgences (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380139)

Modern day Indulgences And nothing more. Spend the money by planing some trees.

Offsets are typically generated from emissions-reducing projects. The most common project type is renewable energy, such as wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams. Other common project types include energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts, destruction of landfill methane, and forestry projects.

Wikipedia: Carbon Offset [wikipedia.org]

Re:Modern day Indulgences (1)

d3matt (864260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380339)

In Lewisville, TX we "destroy" landfill methane and generate electricity at the same time. Does that give us double carbon credits since we're using "biomass" energy?

If anyone wants to send me money, I will donate my son's dirty diapers to the landfill in their name!

Re:Modern day Indulgences (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380977)

My bumper sticker:
Recycle air
Plant a tree!

The only thing that actually works is the simplest and cheapest.

Offsets are marketing tools (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379673)

Bought by companies who want a good image. That's about all they are good for.

Not a fix (1, Insightful)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379675)

Who offsets the carbon of the carbon offsetting companies?

Buying "carbon credits" is ridiculous. It's a bit like a company using all the water in one river in the U.S. then paying other companies to drill wells for villages in Africa (i.e., being "water neutral"). It's great for the Africans but doesn't solve the problem of destroying a whole river ecosystem in the U.S.

I'm all for reducing noxious emissions and conserving energy but buying carbon credits does not solve the problem.

More of a scam, not so much a fix. (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379757)

If it were just a volunteer program, that might be one thing. Giving money is another thing. I have heard that they like building rainforests with the money, too, which I have also heard are NOT the best thing for producing oxygen and eating CO2...

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (3, Funny)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379905)

Maybe they should stop building rainforests and start growing rainforests. That's probably the problem, cement trees are not very good at respiration.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380189)

Hehe...

Joking aside, I assume (this isn't even based on wikipedia, talk about [citation needed] that rainforests also have a lot of rotting material. I actually know THAT part for a fact, even that Earth series that recently came out (BBC, I think? Forgot hte name of it now, heh) had that in there. Rotting stuff produces lots of CO2.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380329)

Strange. The stuff rotting in me mostly seems to produce methane.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (0)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380299)

They aren't.

Plants consume CO2 during the day, and release CO2 at night, in a process called respiration.

They are truly carbon neutral : )

A better idea would be to find something that consumes massive amounts of methane, as not only is it significantly worse as far as "global warming" is concerned, its also not used by as many things around the world (and thus safer to play around with.)

-Fred

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380519)

Plants are carbon neutral perhaps, but rotting plants aren't, hence the whole rain forest thing not being a good idea...

Don't matches consume massive amounts of methane? ;)

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380629)

But growing plants are sinks; the carbon exuded by rotting matches the carbon they've incorporated into themselves over their lifetime. In the long run, everything is carbon neutral.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380843)

That reminds me about something I read a while back about biochar.

Amazonian soil is notoriously bad, but there are areas filled with what the locals call terra preta; soil with an unusually high carbon content. ( >= 20% ) This soil is jet black and is extremely fertile. (remaining so with repeated growing seasons) The areas where this soil is located is filled with pottery fragments, so the soil was obviously manmade either deliberately or as a byproduct of human habitation over a long period of time by pre-colombian cultures. Biochar is a modern attempt to recreate terra preta.

Biochar works by converting organic material into pure carbon, and then by storing that carbon in the soil. Carbon can persist in the soil harmlessly for centuries (if not millennia) so once carbon gets deposited, it would never be released again. Meanwhile, it would absorb nutrients (think activated carbon) and gradually release them to plants when aided by certain types of bacteria existing in symbiosis with plant life. If biochar could be mass-produced without releasing too much carbon dioxide, carbon could be stored in the soil indefinitely and we could possibly have a negative carbon footprint.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380607)

Plants consume CO2 during the day, and release CO2 at night, in a process called respiration.

They are truly carbon neutral : )

Nope. They don't release as much as they take in. The carbon they absorb from the air gets combined with water and nitrogen and ends up as sugars and proteins.

-jcr

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380631)

Uh not exactly, some of the CO2 is released, but much of it is converted into hydrocarbons via photosynthesis and used for various things like the plant's structure. There's a hell of a lot of carbon sequestered in the trunk of a large tree. When the plant life dies (or partly so, like when trees drop leaves in winter) that CO2 gets released, but should get sucked up in the next growth cycle, meaning that while it follows a cyclical pattern there's less carbon on average in the atmosphere and it isn't increasing.

Increasing the amount of carbon locked up in biomass is certainly a valid (if not perfect) way to reduce atmospheric CO2.

Re:More of a scam, not so much a fix. (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380693)

I don't know where you heard this. Plants respire all of the time, absorbing O2 and generating CO2 (excuse the lack of subscripts on Slashdot). If they didn't, they would die very quickly. When they are being hit by light, they also photosynthesise and turn CO2 into O2 and sugars, usually absorbing more CO2 than they generate with respiration. These sugars are turned into starch for storage and broken down to build more bits of plant. Plants remove carbon from the atmosphere and build it in to their bodies. A significant proportion of the mass of a growing plant is carbon it has absorbed from the atmosphere.

Plants are only carbon neutral if you count the time after they have died and been broken down by bacteria or burned.

http://tinyurl.com/globalwarmingscam (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26379833)

http://tinyurl.com/globalwarmingscam

FTA: (2, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379853)

as some recipients of offsets say the results of their sustainable efforts would be achieved regardless of any one company's investment.

That's not true, those recipients wouldn't get filthy rich without company investments!

The Solution (4, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26379935)

The government just needs to enact two laws to solve global warming:

1) Ban all e-commerce
2) Mandate a one thousand year document retention period

All government and commercial transactions will be done on paper drastically increasing demand. Paper companies will chop down trees to make paper and then plant new ones that will pull carbon dioxide out of the air. The carbon in the form of paper will be sequestered by the document retention requirement. Problem solved.

Oh yeah, and to speed commerce we can build a network of pneumatic tubes.

Oh yes, the old Catholic model. (2, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380053)

Carbon Indulgences [wikipedia.org]. I sense an Environmental Protestantism coming on.

Re:Oh yes, the old Catholic model. (1)

kpoole55 (1102793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380227)

The Environmental Protestantism movement is already underway but there's no money to be made in it so it gets nowhere. All the big money is already hooked into supporting the indulgences system.

Subsidies (1, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380095)

When you start handing out subsidies, people start chasing the subsidies rather than the goals that the subsidies are trying to jump-start.

See Ethanol, various agricultural subsidies, tax breaks for wealthy and profitable corporations, subsidies to erect cable lines and the monopolies that has created, etc.

I can think of very few subsidies that have worked out well. A much better idea is to incorporate the cost of "dirty" industry into the services and goods produced. Then consumers can compare on cost alone (which is what most people do anyway).

Re:Subsidies (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380327)

When you start handing out subsidies, people start chasing the subsidies rather than the goals that the subsidies are trying to jump-start.

So true. Subsidies is the exact opposite of what you should do. There is only one decently efficent way of dealing with externalties, and that is to tax the hell out of it.

Of course, politicians will never do something like that. Instead of taxing the release of CO2 into the atmosphere they will just tax using energy which punishes all types of energy uses independent of how it is produced. Then they will create random subsidies on various non-externalty based energy production methods on a pseudo random basis (using the lobbying dice). This completly destroys the free market and makes less efficent but lobbied ways of producing energy cheaper (as in subsidised) while newer efficent methods remains expensive.

The next step is obvious (0, Troll)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380199)

Christians came to these realizations roughly 500 years ago....how long before the new Enviroligion realizes the following?

(Highlights follow, with apologies to Dr. Martin Luther and all the other good Lutherans/Protestants on /.)

27
There is no green authority for preaching that the pollution flies out of the biosphere immediately once the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.

28
It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the Treehuggers offer intercession, all depends in the will of Gore.

29
Who knows whether all souls who live in pollution wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of a befouled environment for the benefit of the Treehuggers).

32
All those who believe themselves certain of their own harmony with nature by means of letters of carbon credit, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

41
Carbon Credits should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of loving trees.

49
Hippie Treehuggers should be taught that the Gore's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of Pollution through them.

54
The word of Gore suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to Carbon Credits than to that word.

67
The Carbon Credits, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.

82
They ask, e.g.: Why does not the Gore liberate everyone from pollution for the sake of loving trees (a most Green thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their environment? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable polluters for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build Gore Manor, a very minor purpose.

Re:The next step is obvious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26380687)

The problem with making fun of treehugging hippies for supporting carbon offset indulgences is that no treehugging hippies think that carbon offset is a good idea. treehugging hippies think that riding a bike instead of driving, fixing things and making them yourself, and growing your own food are the best ways to reduce global carbon levels. then they do those things. then they get made fun of for being hippies.

Offsets, offsets, little itty bitty offsets, ... (0, Flamebait)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380219)

New from the makers of Carbon Offsets, Litter Offsets:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il3o4rmcLBc [youtube.com]

At the end of the vid are the best kind of offsets that the government uses all the time against other people around the world.

Of course the Christians have had the best offsets of them all: the confession booth.

Yes, the little tune in the subject line was inspired by Data of ST:TNG.

Some Credits are More Equal than Others (3, Interesting)

KnightNavro (585943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380403)

Some credits are better than others. There are several verification programs in existence. In the USA, I am most familiar with the Chicago Climate Exchange and the California Climate Action Reserve (CCAR). A lot of projects would have occurred anyway due to profitability or regulations, and GHG credits from these projects are junk. Preserving a piece of forest in a desolate valley nobody could profitably harvest or installing a landfill gas flare where carbon has become too expensive should be considered "business as usual," but unfortunately some accreditation agencies and verifiers don't consider "business as usual" and say there is a reduction anyway. These credits are a scam perpetrated by the seller, the verifier, the accreditor, and sometimes the buyer.

There are some projects that generate real reductions. For example, capture or methane from manure lagoons or landfills where it is not required by regulation and is not less expensive than carbon treatment or the planting and preservation of trees in an area that would otherwise be harvested. These credits are real reductions.

The problem is the layman has no idea where their credits are coming from. I'm in the industry, and I can't always tell you the value of a credit.

Re:Some Credits are More Equal than Others (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380971)

> The problem is the layman has no idea where their credits are coming from.

Exactly. How possibly could they? We're talking people with real lives, not (and I sincerely mean this in the most positive sense) eco-geeks. When you ask even intelligent, well-educated people to make decisions out of their area of expertise, you often get pandemonium. And that's what we're getting here.

The Indulgence of Global Warming Religion (4, Interesting)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380547)

Global Warming has all the elements of caricatures of religion.

Sin? Carbon.

Original Sin? Capitalism/Industry.

Which leads us to carbon offset. Yes, just like Roman Catholic indulgences. Except they produced something useful. The Sistine Chapel.

Re:The Indulgence of Global Warming Religion (2, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381323)

Right, because "sin" is "all the elements of religion". On that logic you could pretty much call scientists proclaiming the dangers of lung cancer as a religious cult.

Equating decades of scientific research to a story tale about a Jewish carpenter and his drinking buddies is ridiculous.

Overthinking anything (2, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380623)

Is what will cause the over intelligent person to fail. No matter how much time you spend analyzing some decision, there will be even more to consider. You will never know for sure what the best option is.

It comes down to "stupid" and seemingly "irrational" reasons that make us finally decide.

This:

These Corn Pops are cheaper... but I get more Oz. per Dollar if I buy the more expensive ones... but I may not finish the bigger box... but if I get the small box, I might have a surplus of milk. Oh.. I could buy the smaller milk. Oh wow. The value of the quart-sized milk drops dramatically from that of the Gallon size. Ok. I will rule out milk as a deciding factor...

Or this:
These corn pops look good. Big box or small? I'm not that hungry now, which has nothing to do with anything... but small box it is.

I guess it's a matter of choosing your battles. In general, I believe that if we mean well and make honest decisions, on average we will do better. Not always, but it will tend towards better. Do try.. but do not kill yourself. The returns on worrying will likely diminish as you sit there.

If everyone TRIED to be conscious of energy waste, I feel pretty confident that the net payoff would be worth it. Again, only go as far as is reasonable. Yes. That's a subjective thing. That's one thing "Humans" are skilled at. Subjectivity. It's an important part of what makes us intelligence. Call it your heart or your gut. It's smarter than the credit we give it.

MGW: a shitty lie and ppl need to think about it (0, Troll)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380763)

Hey I just took a shit. I parted with about what I would say looks like 200 grams of digested food and here's your fun science fact for the
day: shit also contains a _lot_ of dead intestinal cells - no kidding.

I bring this up because again we're knee deep into the Man-made Global Warming / Carbon Tax LIE-complex. Just think about it. Earth has
been around far far far longer than we've been poking a thermometer into its rear. From what we do know, the 1700s saw temperature
significantly higher as far up as the WINEYARDS(!) of England(!) (yep, England was known for its fine wine back then). The average temperature
was far higher than it is today and by that I mean the warm spell we had the years before. Now it's so cold they're changing their tune
either to "Global Cooling" (man-made too of course) or they're now resorting to the more generic term "Climate Change". I'm sick of this crap
and so should you be.

There's a whole world of deceit and outright lies out there spread mostly by the so-called "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" ("IPCC").
Isn't it interesting that scientists sue -- and have to sue -- to get their names taken off the "IPCC" reports and studies because same scientists
either actually entirely disagree with the "findings" in those reports or just had their name listed without prior permission or any affiliation or
relation with the "IPCC".

So back to the turd I flushed. 200g of organic matter, I'm guessing 74% H, 5% oxygen, nitrogen, 1% calcium, sulphur, phosphorus and various
other minerals and of course 20% carbon. Why should I pay say an extra dollar for flushing my toiled to "offset" the fictitious "cost" of me being
alive with a metabolism .. when it's ALL A SHITTY LIE?!?!

Take a look at this:

http://www.ourcivilisation.com/aginatur/swindle.htm [ourcivilisation.com]

A Review Of 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' By S. Fred Singer, (Atmospheric Physicist) March 19, 2007

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth has met its match: a devastating documentary recently shown on British television, which has now been viewed by millions of people on the Internet. Despite its flamboyant title, The Great Global Warming Swindle is based on sound science and interviews with real climate scientists, including me. An Inconvenient Truth, on the other hand, is mostly an emotional presentation from a single politician.

The scientific arguments presented in The Great Global Warming Swindle can be stated quite briefly:

1. There is no proof that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from human activity. Ice core records from the past 650,000 years show that temperature increases have preceded--not resulted from--increases in CO2 by hundreds of years, suggesting that the warming of the oceans is an important source of the rise in atmospheric CO2. As the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapour is far, far more important than CO2. Dire predictions of future warming are based almost entirely on computer climate models, yet these models do not accurately understand the role or water vapor--and, in any case, water vapor is not within our control. Plus, computer models cannot account for the observed cooling of much of the past century (1940-75), nor for the observed patterns of warming--what we call the "fingerprints." For example, the Antarctic is cooling while models predict warming. And where the models call for the middle atmosphere to warm faster than the surface, the observations show the exact opposite. ...

The inexact science of everything (3, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380839)

(Kind of an off-topic rant, mostly because I'm seeing a lot of responses saying "See?!? Global warming is clearly crap because it has holes, now leave my diesel-powered hummer alone")

When did people start thinking science was easy and could ever provide a simple answer to anything? At best you get vague general theories, and usually know at least a few big exceptions prior to the theory being written down. And that's when the theory applies to something that is entirely academic. When it has serious economic implications, how clear a picture do you think is going to develop?

Maybe we do need to start adding "just a theory" to evolution taught in high school, and add it to everything else taught in science as well.

It's important to point out the holes in any theory, to critique buisness practices and government regulations, and avoid the harms that global warming could bring about, but resist the temptation to think in terms of black and white on such complex issues.

Re:The inexact science of everything (0, Troll)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26380963)

Well, I think anthrocentric global warming is a load of hooey, and I drive a Civic Hybrid.

Wrap your brain around that for a while, then get back to me...

Carbon Neutrality IS risky business! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26381099)

IT'S A SCAM!

Give the congress direct control over each and every business, and they'll take it. That's why it's there. But they're so smart, aye?

You hated the BMV?
You hated the $600 toilet seat?
You hate $8 aspirins in the hospital?
You hate $130,000 school debt for the basics?

The same people who brought that, bring this.

Sign up for GlobalWarming(TM) and you have a lot of Kool-Aid to drink.

Consensus isn't science.

We don't all *agree* on a speed of light, we've proved it.
We don't all *agree* on a speed of sound, we've proved it.
Why *agree* that it's happening, when it's not?

"Send me money: I'll stop the sky from falling!"

Would you buy it if they used those words?

Carbon-Credits are not all a scam (4, Insightful)

ZiggyM (238243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381187)

Ok, most comments are heavily critizising carbon credits, so, risking being bashed, I will write a little about the goods of carbon credits, from a perspective of a peruvian citizen. First, of course its not the ideal solution. Many in slashdot want either ideal or nothing. The best solution is for factories to stop polluting. However, in the real world, this is not currently achievable, as most of us continue to buy products that we ask those factories to make for us. Factories are just the intermediaries, we are the ones that demand more stuff. if you really want *factories* to stop polluting, *stop buying* their stuff, reduce, reuse, and recycle, and have less kids. That said, the Kyoto protocol is at least a starting point, which formalized the mechanism for carbon credits. its a way for factories to continue polluting, BUT with two new advantages: 1) Some countries now put a price on that pollution, and factories now must pay for that, or must reduce their pollution. The best incentive is always money. In Europe this does work. And 2) not only do they have to pay, but that money goes towards projects that are good for the environment. As an example, here in Peru where I live, its actually a good business to plant and maintain a forest, because we get $ from carbon credits. This would have been impossible before Kyoto, and I can tell you first-hand that nobody gives a crap here about forests unless they receive some money in exchange, and the government does nothing to stop deforestation, so its left to private business to do something. In fact our rainforest is being heavily devastated mostly by coca plantations that destroy it. At least the carbon credits offset that a little bit. Hopefully as the cost of a carbon credit goes up, so will the business of making and maintaining forests. I also have a lot of criticism for carbon credits, but nobody was saying what its good for, so I had to.

Wall Street Fox Journal Lies (1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381425)

Why would we read the Wall Street Journal for insight into governing carbon emissions in a market? The WSJ has lied for years about carbon emissions and climate change. Even before it was bought last year by Rupert Murdoch to join the NY Post and Fox News (and many other lying tabloids) in his fascist communications empipre, the WSJ was lying about climate change and markets. Even beyond the carbon pollution and climate change, the WSJ spent the last decade and more lying to us about how unregulated markets would make us all rich, but they've robbed us all blind.

We have to debate a lot to get a carbon emissions market right. Doing it in the pages of the Wall Street Fox Journal is a good way to do it totally wrong. And if you think the financial crash the WSJ helped cook up is bad, wait until you see what the WSJ would do for the air we breathe and the rest of the environment we need to live.

PT Barnum would be proud (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26381473)

Anyone who thinks that buying 'Carbon Credits' is anything other than a scam is a sucker...and as the man said one is born every minute.

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