Monday, 22 January 2007

Greenwash and carbon sequestration. And Will Rogers' relevance

The UK press has recently been full of articles concerning carbon offsets, mostly critical, pointing out that many people and companies are simply using it as a way of greenwashing and absolving their consciences. To a large extent I agree, and in discussions , the Board of Trustees have generally agreed. However, the WLT's position is equally clear, in supporting reforestation as a significant way of reversing environmental degradation. In fact the WLT's Chairman recently had a letter published in The Independent newspaper putting forward the WLT position:

With 20%-25% of atmospheric carbon coming from deforestation, clearly reforestation is a very important issue. And while the WLT's contributions are admittedly small, they are nonetheless important as a demonstration. And I personally would strongly argue that preserving existing old-growth forests is actually the most important way of off-setting carbon emissions. My reasoning is thus: almost all other forms of off-setting and emissions reduction have potentially negative impacts. This is something I have commented on numerous times in my blog. Saving energy means saving money = more money to spend. Go to a charity shop and you can see the end result of profligate spending and a society that is bent on having every up-to-date gizmo and gadget, the latest fashions, and too much 'stuff' all round.

I am back where I always end up. Saving a few kilowatts of energy, sequestering a few tonnes of carbon, is not the answer. Though it certainly will not do any harm to reduce energy consumption. Slowing down consumerism, slowing down population growth is the only real answer. But who will face that reality?

So meanwhile I am back quoting Will Rogers: "Buy land. God ain't makin' anymore of it".

1 comment:

  1. I, too, have been been reading articles about carbon offsets, greenwashing and the clearing of consciences. But rather than beating these people with a stick should we not be leading them into the paths of true righteousness with the carrot of encouragement? What starts as self-serving posturing could eventually become a genuine action.

    Incidentally, I don't agree with Will Rogers. God is still making land, viz. the lava flow from Mt Belinda on Montagu Island in the South Sandwiches, but He also destroys it, viz. the coastline of East Anglia. "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away", as Job unhappily realised.

    But He is a bit slow making new forests. However, I read a few days ago a short note to the effect that planting trees in our latitudes is not such a good idea because the energy trapped by foliage offsets any advantage in reducing global warming. I think - I meant to return to the note and digest it properly but can't find it.

    P.S. I write as one whose wife, at the height of last summer's heatwave, bought him an electric butterdish (I kid you not). Luckily it broke down before my conscience reached crisis-point.