Friday, July 18, 2008


I'm trying to figure out carbon offsets. Before you get mad/defensive/frustrated/flustered...I have a child-like understanding of carbon offsets.  I've heard of them enough to sort of nod my head when the subject comes up...but then I sort of glaze over. 

I just want to know how they work.  If I had to explain to someone how they work, I'd probably say that you give money to some company that invests in green technology/energy and that "offsets" the bad stuff. (this is why they don't ask me to go and speak about this)

So a rich girl in Toledo decides that she feels bad about flying her jet to Paris to get a new turtleneck.  She sends money to BioFriend International LLC and everything is cool?
Every time she steals someone's car, she sends $500 to Unicef.  Every time she punches her mom in the face, she sings a lovely song for a homeless man.  "Excuse me, you really shouldn't be smoking while pregnant" "It's ok, I planted a tree yesterday"  Everything is cool in the long run.  She makes it right by doing something right to make up for doing something wrong.

Rich people can fly jumbo jets to their 10,000 square foot house that's fueled by baby seals and cook their dinner by sticking a lighter in front of their hair spray and torching it.  It's ok, because they can afford to pay the extra guilt tax?

Either the jet is bad or it's not, but you can't make the argument that it's long as you put money into something good later.  Or can you?  I'm convinced I'm missing something here...


  1. while i agree with your assessment of carbon offsets (as i understand them as well), they do not quite work like the catholic teaching on indulgences. many folks just like to think the church says (or said) that you could pay to have your sins forgiven. the church has never taught that. now, some misguided people representing the church said some things along those lines at one time (the whole "as soon as the coin hits the bottom of the bucket..." song when building st. peter's), but the church's teaching (agree with it or not, it doesn't matter to me... and not that i even agree with it) is that through repentance, confession, and the pursuit of good works (for faith without works is dead), a person can lessen or even remove the temporal consequences (some would say "punishment" but i don't think that is the right word) of their sin.

    logically, this can make some sense. if i punch you in the face, i might get punched back or you could even press charges criminally and sue me civilly. however, if i repent of doing such things and come to you humbly in confession, and then seek to serve you and others to earn your trust back and strengthen my own resolve for repentance, then you might drop the charges and the (deserved) consequences of my actions are removed.

    too many (catholics included) misunderstand this as a "get out of jail free card" but there are so many factors that have to accompany the action for this miracle of forgiveness and repentance to actually have an impact in the here and now.

    there is the aspect of merited grace but that gets more complicated and i don't know how to talk about that in a paragraph or two. my whole point is that the title "indulgences" is a bit of a mischaracterization and could be taken as a jab at our catholic brothers and sisters.

    overall, i totally agree with the absurdity of carbon offsets. all they really serve to do is keep the levels where they are currently at (which is going to destroy the earth right?). shouldn't we be trying to lower use and not just balance it?

  2. i support wind farms. besides, i think they look pretty cool.

  3. Anonymous9:56 AM

    bragg, is there anything trendy that you don't support??

  4. 2 things that are not trendy that Bragg supports
    1. the clubbing of baby seals
    2. Hootie & the blowfish

    If somehow you could play hootie while simultaneously clubbing a baby seal - that's Bragg's sweet spot.

    although you've got to admit, having people install wind mills on your property and then telling people you're a farmer...that's gotta be pretty sweet.

    On a side note - Bragg, I installed a light fixture without even a single phone call your way. Your little boy is growing up. If you see me write a post about the house fire, you'll know why.

  5. Guess who the first American company to ask for carbon offsets was?


    They're a money-maker for the offset distributor, a PR boon for the big companies, and a moneymaker for the offset producers.

    Everybody wins except consumers. And the environment.

  6. Well, anonymous, to answer your question, I will have to give a brief resume of my 'trendy' lifestyle.

    I am one of the 6 people in America to follow, watch, and love ice hockey.

    I am one of the small percentage of Americans who appreciates the level of athleticism, sport, camaraderie, and achievement of high school, college, and Olympic wrestling.

    I listened to John Mayer before he went pop culture and believe his abilities in playing the blues is far superior to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

    I voted for someone other than George W. Bush in all of his elections.

    I have never been to Seattle.

    I have never shopped at Walmart.

    I shop for clothes at TJMaxx.

    I rather dislike the Steelers, the Bo-Sox, the Yankees, and the Redwings (even though it would be pretty trendy to jump on their bandwagon in recent history).

    I fly airplanes, and let me tell you it's such a hassle to get one reserved at the airport since everyone is beating down the doors of flight schools to get a pilot's license.

    I teach.

    I teach a crucial piece in how to fly airplanes (for individuals seeking sport, recreational, private, instrument, commercial, and flight instructor ratings).

    I prefer the literature of Hemingway and Steinbeck.

    I don't own a gaming console (Wii, XBox, Play Station, PSP, or DS) and don't play anything more than the manufacturer installed game of Chess on my computer.

    I mean, sure, I guess I'm pretty much on whatever trend-wagon pulls into town next.

    As for the trend of wind farms? Anonymous, I've been green since we were called tree-hugging liberals. And what I can't stand, are the jack-asses in one local suburb who feel they have solved all the other problems, and have enough money to water the grass between a major interstate highway and the exit ramp from that highway. But you won't hear me complain about it because I've got enough problems of my own. And they mainly revolve around what I'm going to do until September when Hockey Season starts again.

  7. And Murph, I'm really proud of you for installing the light fixture. If I wasn't so busy pining for the next 'green' technology to hit the market so I can brown nose your creative thoughts, I might have been more accessible to you.

    I'm sorry.

  8. And if you do need anything, I drive by your house 8 times a week on my way to work. Please call if you do need help, have a question, or would like moral support in your next d-i-y project. I'm pretty cheap and will take a cup of Starbucks as my usual payment for any services rendered. And by Starbucks, I mean whatever beverage is available at your casa while I am visiting.

  9. Anonymous comments are trendy, and I don't think Bragg supports those.

  10. Anonymous3:52 PM

    bragg thanks for the resume. glad to know i am a jackass because i live in the suburbs. i have read your blog and comments for a long time and all i know is that you try to do anything that is "different" to be cool. liking hockey is different so you like it to get attention. being green is all cool now so you are the next al gore. no one flies planes so you fly planes so people pay atgtention to you.look how pathetic your list was. you play chess on your computer!!! wow you are such a genius!!! wow you namedropped hemingway and steinbeck and stevie ray vaught! can i get your autograph for being able to use google??? you try to hard and that is what makes you and fuller and all the rest so pathetic.

  11. Anonymous6:51 PM

    The above anonymous is not the same anonymous (me) who has not commented on your blog for a long time...(I haven't seen a reason to, Sean. You haven't been really controversial on topics that matter to me for quite awhile). I kinda miss it... c'mon say something chauvinistic for me...

    And making fun of rich people who fuel the economy? Really, Sean, what's going on with you?

    Bragg, I've argued with you in the past but I've never been that venomous... Ew.

  12. So now I'm confused. I'm either too trendy or I'm an attention hog. Interesting how you flip-flop more often than Mitt Romney - Zing!

    Oh well. It could be worse... I could be too timid, afraid, insecure, and thoughtless to put my name behind my own thoughts, comments, and beliefs for others to attack cowardly. Especially in such venomous cheap shots as you've stooped to embrace.

    Have a great weekend though.

  13. guys are better in sports than girls (how was that?)

  14. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Try harder

  15. Anonymous,

    1) Mix in the shift key every once in a while.

    2) How the heck did I get thrown into that rant? (Unless you were referring to Buckminster Fuller...that guys is a real jerk.)

    3) Who names their son "Mitt?"

  16. I don't need to defend myself. It's clear you have no idea who I am based on your assumption that my resume is about the choices I've made in the last 6 months.

    If you knew anything about me you'd know just how far from the truth you are.

    Maybe I was out of line making the statement I made about the "jackasses" in the suburbs who water the grass between the highway and an exit ramp. But even you have to see the absurdity in such waste? I digress.

    I don't have any problems with the suburbs. I'm glad you have a life there. I'm glad your life is what you want it to be. I'm glad you have found happiness and a peaceful existence.

    But please take a few minutes and consider how much more detritus you plan to spew forth based on a knowledge base which is far too small.

    If you would like to actually get to know me, learn about the last 10 years of my life (which by the way, 10 years of a lifestyle pretty much takes me out of 'trendy' zone and into 'lifestyle' zone), and get to know the individual you are attempting to rile up in some sick attempt at a warped sense of humor (which I certainly hope your statements are rooted in hyperbole and not actually serious), then I encourage you to contact me through my blog and we'll have lunch. I drive through the suburbs four days a week and will be delighted to stop in and support your community with my hard earned dollars.

    (And yes, Fuller, I am getting paid these days for a teaching gig I rather enjoy.) :-)

  17. Anonymous5:37 PM

    bragg everytime you repsond you help prove me right. detritus? hyperbole? do you have word of the day toilet paper or something? lol we get it, you can use big words, we all think you are a genius already becuase you play chess on your computer. good job! lol what i think is relly funny is you saying you have 10 years of a liefstlye to back you up or whatever. um ive been reading your blog for like two years and you never wrote anything about the envirornment, biking, politics, corporate america and now you are some hippy biker who is fighting the man! lol! what a joke! get out your toilet paper to write me back! lol and yes fuller you are even worse. all you guys do is write about yourselves to stroke your egos. we get it your writing a book, we don't need an update every other day. two peas in a loser pod! lol

  18. Now that was funny.

  19. dave (brave enough to put my name)6:10 PM

    who is the bigger loser? (bragg and fuller please forgive me the use of you in this comparison... i in no way think of you as "losers"). the one who writes about themselves as if some one really cares what is going on in their lives, or the one who takes time out of their day to read and comment on their lives?

  20. You're the one with the...pods...and the peas...and the...candy shell.

    Sorry to be so harsh, anonymous, but you left me no choice.