Friday, July 13, 2007

Carbon Off Sets

The UU World has an article about UU's going to GA and taking other trips with a clear conscience by using carbon offset payments. The essence of this scheme is that individuals and companies can go about their activities without guilt by paying a fee according to how much carbon dioxide they have created, with that fee going to projects that are good for the earth like tree-planting.

Although I can see the utility of this scheme as a way to force our capitalist system to recognize some of the costs of their activity which currently are going un-registered and will be paid for by future generations, I have some real questions about the moral value of carbon offset payments for individuals. I prefer actual offsets to voluntary activity like flying to GA or Transylvania. If you are going to spew tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by flying, how about taking the bus to work or lowering your a/c use or planting a vegetable garden? Getting a sticker for your name tag by paying an extra $6.00 at GA is, given the magnitude of the problems facing us, is better than nothing but so lame as to be evidence of denial.

I hasten to say that I was at GA. And I'll be going next year, apparently, as I'm giving a lecture and have a book due out from Skinner House. I'm planning to combine it with some vacation to maximize the benefit of the the plane trip and I plan to just say "no!" to all enticements to go to GA in 09. If our denomination was really serious about reducing carbon emissions, it would put major effort into regional gatherings and go to biannual GA's.

How then would the work get done? Already more than 1/2 of GA attendees are not delegates. They are attending for the workshops, worship services, and networking available at GA, and GA has gotten so big that these things are less and less satisfying. Time to downsize, regionalize, and virtualize both the business and the fun of GA.

3 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

Maybe someone can start selling U*Us hypocrisy offsets. I expect that they would make a fortune. . .

Ms. Theologian said...

I think that finding the "real" cost of different services is interesting. I'm not convinced that paying a fee of this nature is much of a sacrifice though. I like your ideas on more permanent changes.

Kenneth said...

Preach it!