1000 Flowers for the Planet - #336 Query Carbon Neutral Products
Have you ever heard a bird say, “Shit! I just pooped in my nest. Wait! It’s okay folks – I covered it up with 100% natural feathers, so I can’t tell I’ve pooped in my nest.”
The phrase “carbon neutral” is a misleading one. As long as you are using fossil fuels you are creating carbon emissions. You could go live in the forest without electricity or a car, but as soon as you start a fire to cook or keep warm, you are creating carbon emissions. Nothing can ‘neutralise’ that. You can try to ‘compensate’ for it, but you can’t actually neutralise it. Our marketing people have become so incredibly good at their jobs they can sell fossil fuels alongside a rescue package that doesn’t exist.
In order to ‘neutralise’ our carbon emissions we need to plant trees. We would need to plant 50 million hectares with trees every year to compensate for our current fossil fuel usage. And here’s the catch: in order for those trees to ‘neutralise’ the problem they would have to stay there forever. That means never chopping one tree down, and continuing to plant 50 million hectares every year. To give you some perspective, 50 million hectares is about the size of Spain (get your atlas out). [source: http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/carbon_offsetting_tree_planting.htm] But then, planting trees may not go far towards a solution anyway. Read http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article256-the-carbon-neutral-myth.html for more information.
Stop being one of those people that puts their hands over their ears and sings la-la-la-la in order to avoid being aware of the problem. Acknowledge that what we do has an impact, try to reduce your impact and become more educated. Beware products and companies who make claims that they are “carbon neutral”, because once you shit in the nest, covering it up with feathers won’t make the shit go away. The solution is to not shit in the nest in the first place.