I got a lot of good responses and links from my last post — clearly nuclear is a heavy issue for people, as it should be. I’ll be responding to a couple of comments in a later post because I want to make sure I get my facts/opinion right. So look back for my take on electric cars, hydrogen as a transport fuel and yes, some more nuclear.
In the meantime, this is my subject of the day:
GE, in partnership with AES, has launched a Carbon Offset Credit Card. Both Treehugger.com and the New York Times have articles about it, but I’ve linked here to the New York Times piece.
“We are not sending a message that you can buy your way out of your environmental responsibility,” said Lorraine Bolsinger, vice president of GE Ecomagination. “We’re offering another tool in the kit for reducing carbon footprints.”
Thats their media bite on the whole idea, but what do I really think about the idea?
1. I think it is VERY important that people understand that you can’t buy your way out of climate change/global warming/driving too much etc… And that goes for both sides of the debate. Environmentalists who oppose offsetting accuse it of doing very much that — allowing people a guilt-free ride in their gas guzzlers. I disagree with that idea but only as long as there is a concerted effort by ‘offsetting’ companies tonot mislead their customers as to the meaning of offsetting. Environmentalists who oppose this concept, in my mind, are actually preventing a constructive and useful dialogue to open up between business and themselves. Offsetting is valid — when done well and done in an ecologically considerate way. Which can be done, is being done, and can only be done better if people really work together.
2. Treehugger.com made a good point in one of their posts a few days ago about how Green products are actually counter-productive in many cases. People who don’t need new things, go out and buy Green things because it makes them feel better or they think they are benefiting a cause. However, all they are doing is accumulating more goods, causing more pollution and using up more resources. Sure, this idea is correct but thats only if we assume people are buying green replacements. I think most green consumers who aim to buy something because they need it (or, yes, think they do) will, instead of choosing the main stream “bad” good, go for the green one. Not particularly harmful or helpful but time will tell. So back to this offsets card — I like the idea because it allows people to impact in an environmentally positive way all the purchases they make, whether they are green or not, by choice or by lack of availability.
3. I wonder if the green credit card fashion — which is just really taking off with this idea — will really work. A lot of causes have gone the way of the credit card and didn’t really get much traction or impact. And i also wonder if there is a scale limit to this idea. That is if every CC holder in this country switched to the GE offset card, I doubt they would be able to buy/fund/create enough offset credits for everyone. And it works the other way, if only a few people sign up will their cumulatitive effect be enough to really impact the offset/emission credit business? Guess we will have to wait and see.