Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Inconvenient Truth Of Middle Class Carbon Credits

It is an inconvenient truth that I drive an SUV (although a tiny 4-cylinder cutie), use electricity, and eat dead, formerly flatulent fauna.

All of these things contribute to global warming of course. Although my annual use of electrons can't compete with that of the rich and famous, it still bugs me when I feel like we have wasted it or used it for unnecessary things. Unlike the rich and famous, I can't throw money at carbon credit companies with dubious track records and even more dubious plans for carbon sequestration. That's not to say all carbon offset organizations are scams. Still, the concept reeks of eco-dispensations.

I have to throw my money at my kids feeding, housing, and education. Feeding and housing them is a concern of the present, education is a concern for their future and it's their future that I am most concerned about.

It seems obvious to me that we are in a period of warming enhanced by a few centuries of human carbon producing activities. I get that information from sources I trust, not politicians or Hollywood celebrities. In fact, I can barely contain my disgust for folks who live extravagant wasteful lifestyles and then preach to me about "cutting back". Nothing ruins the flavor of your message like that ol' hypocrisy spice.

That applies to me also.

As I mentioned above, I can't throw money at the problem. I CAN do all the eco-friendly things possible ... stuff I would do even if there were no such thing as human accelerated atmospheric warming. Conserving energy, planting trees, recycling, and protecting wildlife habitat comes natural to someone raised on Ranger Rick and National Geographic specials (yes, you babies, I know it's a channel now, but it used to be special).

With no money to throw, I resort to action ... actually doing something, even if it's tiny in the grand scheme of things. I can throw muscle and sweat at the problem, so last week I planted the ten (some pots have two... bean counters) baby trees you see on the back of my carbon belching JEEP. The Instant Ocean bucket is full of rain water that was used to water each seedling.

The black cherry treelings were a gift from my Dad. His backyard cherry tree has produced a carpet of baby trees beneath it and he is potting some of those that he weeds from the mulch. These are fast growing, broadleaved (best for fighting global warming) trees that are wonderful for wildlife habitat. Pruning them also gives me my favorite wood for carving ... but that's in the future.

I drove around my 10 acre wood interspersing them among the many, many oaks, hoping the silly deer would have so much other spring forage to eat that they would miss my little carbon credits.

Back in St. Augustine, Dad is potting up more trees for me. I told him I'd take as many as he could stand to rescue.

In the end, it's all about balancing forces. I suppose there are many ways to do this and while I am harshly critical of some folks and their ways, I know that my own 10 trees are more symbolic than earth changing.
Maybe they're just symbolic of optimism about the future and the ability of humans to overcome great obstacles ... even if they unintentionally created the obstacles.
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18 comments:

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

From an economic standpoint, what I find interesting about carbon credits is that even under the best of implementations, they only address reducing the growth rate of carbon emissions, not the absolute quantities involved.

I sometimes wonder if society is prepared to say "we have now produced as much steel as we ever need to, we have extracted as much oil as we ever need to, we have created as much plastic materials as we ever need to, we have mined as much coal as we ever need to, now let's make do with what we have"?

I fear that is what will have to happen in order to change what appears to be a much altered future.

Wayne said...

Well, we've talked about air conditioning already (wanna know how cold my house gets in the winter?).

I've fielded several criticisms from non-blog folks about my Honda CRV (purchased 5 years ago, before hybrids, and still gets 30 mpg. Not great but not bad. And I don't drive it except to and from work or fire station, which means it can go half a week without getting driven.) So much for observations on how people select or drive their cars.

Yesterday I was removing all the "coppicing" sweetgums from the roadway - they've taken to a ten-foot height or more since last year) and had two neighbors come by and ask why I wasn't using a chainsaw. Uh, well, I don't like the noise? Uh, well, these sweetgums are at most three inches in diameter and perfectly addressable by my little sharkstooth handsaw?

And finally, just perfectly in timing, in the midst of the second conversation - a pair of barred owls started cackling at each other from the northeast. I stopped and listened. My neighbor kept on talking. I shushed him, and he still didn't get it.

Now admittedly I was being encouraged to use a chainsaw rather than a handsaw - but I know these neighbors. They're the very ones who profess conservation, but at the same time don't actually do it.

No, FC, I've no patience with the dillettantes either.

Hurricane Teen said...

I still haven't jumped on the global warming bandwagon yet. The environmentalist in me wants to believe it, but the meteorologist in me tells me no. I trust the meteorologist (scientific) over environmentalist (emotional.) This may change, but I am not even close to being convinced.
I believe this due to unbiased reserach I did in my freshman year of high school, and I still do today. I still see most of the signs pointing to a global cooldown after this little warm period. But we will see :-D

I just hope the environmental crazies don't start saying that the future cooldown (if it happens) was due to producing less CO2, etc. That would not be the case.

Floridacracker said...

Hal,
Yes, I can't see society ever saying that. Wouldn't that be something. Or, "hey, we can make anything out of oil, why the hell are we burning it???" I think that is a question our descendents will ask of us.

Wayne,
I admit a big part of my incentive is economic. I like $135 power bills like March's. I'm the turneroffer at my house, but I only have so much authority ("RESPECT MY AUTHORITAY!").
I think if I lived here alone my bill would be at least half that as the A/C would rarely run and I'd wear the same clothes (around here) for more than one day.
But I loves me some family, so I do what I can.
I would never break out a chainsaw for a job a good pruning saw could handle either. I use mine for big work, but mostly it sits.
We could do a lot better at our car pooling, but we always seem to have different afternoon schedules, so mostly, we drive multiple cars to the same small town each day.
86 here today and the A/C is still off. The ceiling fans are quietly whirring and it is delightful.

Hurricane Teen,
The saddest thing about your comment is the realization you have been raised in a time when the title environmentalist has been twisted to mean only the radical fringe of environmentalism. That's troubling to someone who grew up in the '70's when the term still meant having a concern for the health of your surroundings, both immediate and global. I hate to see a good word get a bad rap.
You should do your own research on the topic and make up your own mind. Watch your sources for bias in both directions.

Wayne said...

FC - yes, exactly. I love my ceiling fans, and they do exactly what I need. I've visited in places that put their ac on minimum and have no ceiling fans, and it likes to drive me to conniptions. I have to have air flowing around, and if that happens, I'm ok no matter what the temp/humidity.

Chainsaws: hey, it was Friday the 13th. Would any rational person get out his chainsaw on Friday the 13th? I think not.

And as regards your response to Hurricane Teen, I couldn't agree more. As I told my sister, not so long ago - I hate environmentalists (ok, I was indulging in a little bit of hyperbole. Not much though.) And what I meant was pretty much what you said. She was rather shocked.

Global warming? Sorry, bud, it's here, and I don't just read - I download data and look at it myself.

Rurality said...

I think the deer go after whatever they can tell you've planted most recently. They ate my rescued wild iris by the NEXT DAY.

Zanne said...

Well FC, you might want to talk to one of your Florida neighbors who has been spouting off about us all doing our part to use less fuel.

The Sweathog....uh, er, fuel hog

What is this man smoking?????

Paul said...

I get warm fuzzies when I plant the trees at Roundrock, but I wonder if my drive down there and back in my big truck has caused more mayhem in a single trip than these few trees could correct in a hundred years.

Pablo

www.roundrockjournal.com

Deb said...

In light of all the available choices, I choose optimism. I haven't done a whole lot of habitat restoration on my 40 acres, but I haven't done a lot of destruction either. I have to drive to work, but I don't heat my house with oil or shower excessively. Our beef comes from fifteen miles away, not fifteen hundred. It's the small steps that count.

Floridacracker said...

Rurality,
I checked today and so far so good.

Zanne,
THAT is the perfect example of what drives me crazy and the sheep hang on their every word because they can recite script lines.

Pablo,
You keep going and keep planting. We have to make up for Travolta's jet toys.

Deb,
Mass small stepping is what we need.

vicki said...

Do you have your instant ocean buckets out collecting rain at the moment? You've been getting a bit of weather this morning.

I had to come back twice because I wanted to take the time to read all three sites. The first is so typical of high profile 'good works'(Im remembering Nestle's charitable efforts on behalf of third world mothers.) Planktos left me totally mystified. NOAA is often my source of information on weather and other matters so I was somewhat familiar with their conclusions, esp. regarding the retreat of arctic glacial formations. Thanks for those links.

As for you, I'm looking forward to updates on your trees. You'll be needing to adding black cherry pie, jelly and cobbler recipes to your kitchen but by then you'll be done supporting children (financially) and onto grandchildren.

This was indeed a great post on small important steps. If everyone did what they could realistically do, think of the progress. Thanks.

YIKES! Storm moved in here just in the last few minutes- great rain!

roger said...

psssst! hey, over here! wanna buy some carbon credits? i can sell cheap 'cause there's no middleman. i go right to the source for mine. i got some big customers too. just last week i helped a guy burn 20 tons of old tires. we found a way to make the deal a positve gain for the atmosphere. i learned some neat accounting tricks when i worked the sub-prime mortgage biz.

Floridacracker said...

Vicki,
Why yes I do :)
I think the iron seeding needs some real deep thinking before we willynilly start fertilizing the ocean. Maybe there's some merit there, but caution is warranted.
Enjoy your blustery weather down there!

roger,
psst, i have my own carbon credit racket ...everybody send me all your extra money and i'll plant wild cherry trees in your name. what do you think about grownups who knowingly sign bad mortgage deals? i have a hard time feeling sorry for them, am i heartless?

Doug Taron said...

Here in Illinois, habitat restoration often involves removing black cherry. Of course, we're restoring prairie here so the whole dynamic's a bit different. I'm enjoying your blog a lot. Let's see, If Gainesville is 50 miles eat of you (from the other posting) does that mean that you are near Gulf Hammock? I had a great evening of black lighting there alsmost exactly a year ago. Saw some really cool stuff.

Floridacracker said...

Doug,
You got it. Gulf Hammock, Devils Hammock, Rocky Hammock. All my stomping grounds.

Black lighting? Were you hunting scorpions?

Doug Taron said...

FC,

The type of black lighting that I was doing involves hanging a black light up in front of a sheet. Lots of moths and beetles (and a few other critters) come in and land on the sheet. It's an only entomologist's collecting technique. It's lots of fun.

Floridacracker said...

Doug,
I imagine you had plenty of buggy visitors. Here beyond mosquito control, my porch lights draw in a multitude of critters.

Mud Dauber said...

What do you think of using carbon-free solar hosting as part of a carbon credit program?

Do you think there is merit in pursuing that??