Thursday, November 08, 2007

Carbon Offsets

Via the libertarians at Marginal Revolutions comes this website making fun of liberals who think carbon offsets are good:

At Cheatneutral, we believe that we should all try to reduce the amount we cheat on our partners, but we also realise that fidelity isn't always possible.

That's why we help you neutralise your cheating. Your actions are offset by a global network of fidelity, developed by us. By paying Cheatneutral, you're funding monogamy-boosting offset projects - we simply invest the money you give us in monogamous, faithful or just plain single people, to encourage them to stay that way.

Ha ha! Those stupid liberals! Seriously though, does anyone see the fatal flaw in this satire? Cheating is bad for the individuals involved but has little effect on society at large. Releasing carbon into the atmosphere has no immediate negative effects but hurts society. Offsets don't do anything to mitigate the immediate effects of something but could work at alleviating the cumulative evils. QED

I understand the importance of protecting the environment but I also believe in capitalism. That means that in my ideal world people would charged for the damage they do and that the rich would obviously be able to pay for more carbon than the poor. I see no problem with using offsets in a reasonably ingenious stop-gap effort while we try to set up a more market-based carbon-tax or cap-and-trade scheme.