Glenn Reynolds notes an interesting piece on how the ultra-rich claim to “offset” their CO2 emissions. Reynolds makes the very apt comparison to buying papal indulgences before the Reformation — it’s an attempt by the wealthy to buy their way out of their own stated social responsibilities, and as the article makes clear, it ends up being a cop-out.
It’s typical hypocrisy — the very rich can afford to buy “carbon credits” while those of us for whom money is an object cannot afford to do the same. For all the talk about how the left abhors social stratification and pitting the haves and against the have-nots, that is precisely what this sort of thing does. It allows Al Gore to emit tons of pollutants directly into the upper atmosphere while preaching his Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia message to the masses, then buy his way to a clean eco-conscience afterwards. Meanwhile, the rest of us are told that we have to make dramatic sacrifices to “save the planet.”
It starts at the top. No more “eco-tourism” for the rich. No more private jets to the Super Bowl. No more jet-setting across the country for high-priced speaking engagements. Either this is a crisis that will destroy all of mankind if it isn’t fixed now or it’s just another way for the world aristocracy to purge themselves of a false sense of noblesse oblige. If it’s the former, then the private jet-set are spoiled beyond belief for acting in such an ecologically injurious manner — if it isn’t then they’re peddlers of snake oil and fear.
In any event, the idea that planting a few trees in Botswana or building a windmill in Hyderabad will offset thousands of tons of CO2 production a year is a farce — and one that should be exposed as such.