At Project SafeCom we're not very keen on the increasing acceptance of "excusing oneself" by means of earning carbon credits in commerce and industry.
It 'seemed such a nice idea at the time': getting carbon credits by offsetting industrial pollution through planting trees, through purchasing forests - or by other means.
We think it's a policy which over time will discount and ignore the immediate urgency of ceasing the use of fossil fuels on a planet which groans under the weight of the devastating greed of ever-increasing production in a climate where the use of fossil fuels is not sanctioned.
We think fossil fuels should be banned entirely - and replaced by the growing number of alternatives available to us. The article below the Carbon calculator from Crikey argues just that.
In that context we want to offer you the use of the very smart Carbon Dioxide Calculator, developed by Carbonify.com and Michael Bloch.
It's time to get serious about Greenhouse gases - the calculator will help you to measure your personal and household carbon emissions so you can take stock and take action. Don't put this one off - act now and get Neutralized!
Click here for more details about the Australian Carbon Neutral Program.
With apologies for presenting this US-based version of the calculator, here's a converter for your measures and weights:
Need to convert from metric?
Monday, 23 October 2006
by Ian McHugh
Climate change correspondent
Tree planting schemes to "offset" carbon emissions offers guilt-free travel for those of us (like me!) with itchy feet. Or do they?
The idea is simple: if I'm concerned about the carbon emissions associated with flying or driving, I pay somebody to plant or restore vegetation that theoretically fixes an equivalent quantity of carbon as it grows, thus offsetting increases in atmospheric carbon.
But there are inherent limits on the amount of biomass an ecosystem can support (and thus the quantity of carbon that can be sequestered), set by the availability of key resources like light, water and nutrients. Through competition between species to access these resources and the myriad of ecological niches they create to do so, nature maximises the allocation of carbon to ecosystems for a given set of resource constraints.
Absurdly, only because we have reduced terrestrial carbon storage through land clearance are our ecosystems available to sequester carbon. Tree planting and ecosystem restoration schemes - at best - can never pay back more than this historical land clearing carbon debt. In practice, even this is unlikely, since resource constraints on biological production have intensified - land has been degraded, soil carbon and nutrients lost, and much of the land surface appropriated for other purposes.
Done properly, these schemes may (for now) result in carbon "neutrality" insofar as an amount of carbon equivalent to that emitted through fossil fuel combustion is sequestered in biomass. But it is dangerous to view the two processes as being equivalent.
Since the accumulation of fossil carbon in geological reservoirs is a process that takes millions of years, its transfer to the atmosphere via fossil fuel combustion is effectively permanent. This is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle over time scales of human relevance.
Imagine that we lived in a world in which ecosystems were intact, but fossil carbon emissions were the same. How would we offset them? For the most part we couldn't. We could always clear some land, but to then claim that the regrowth was sequestering carbon from fossil fuel emissions would seem like carbon accounting sleight-of-hand.
Tree planting schemes are immensely valuable in that they repay the land clearing carbon debt, and may have additional ecological and economic benefits. But they should be considered an adjunct to cuts in fossil fuel emissions, not an alternative.
Image - the picture - on this page is by Sabra Lepore, Grade 5: Second Prize Winner in a poster competition of the Rhode Island (USA) Emissions and Testing Program.
Men Of The Trees Western Australia - The International Society for the planting and Protection of Trees Non-Profit - Voluntary - Founded in 1922.