Carbon Offsetting is Bogus/Real (check one)

Those of us who take sustainability to heart have to deal with a clash between an ideal (grass between our toes, compost-fertilized organics, songs about Aquarius playing in the background) and the reality (driving, flying, lights, computers, etc.).  Specifically, it’s hard to live sustainably in a society that is usually constructed around heavy, unsustainable energy use.  Ironically, many favorite environmental activities are greenhouse-gas generators themselves (driving or flying out to a national park, for example). 

Never Fear!  Carbon Offsetting is here!  Or is it?  What is it, exactly?  If you’ve heard of it, you know you pay money to someone for your CO2 emissions, and that they do something with the money that “offsets” the pollution you generate. 

Is offsetting symbolic, a kindly but pyrrhic gesture driven by guilt?  Are we just buying secular eco-absolution?  Or do we actually, really, reduce emissions elsewhere with our money?

More after the jump!

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