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Archive for the ‘carbon’ Category

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that an environmental consultant of the Coach’s standing has a fair number of celebrity clients, but even I was literally gobsmacked1 when none other than ruler of the free-planet George W. Bush came to me for help.

It transpired that George was having a spot of difficulty getting his head round the tricky idea of “carbon trading” and with the Coach’s reputation for simplifying complex issues, I was just the man he needed.

Looking into America’s background it soon struck me (metaphorical, not the CIA this time) that our friends over the pond are very good with playing card-related metaphors.

This trend was first popularised when Wink Martindale recorded the song Deck of Cards, which tells how an ordinary pack (or “deck”) of cards may be utilised as an emergency bible (the seven of spades can, for example, be used a substitute for the Acts of the Apostles in the absence of the real thing).

This trend has continued latterly with the famous Most Wanted Iraqis set, which ranked from Saddam himself, and sons Qusay and Uday as aces, down to Saddam Hussein’s gardener’s assistant at two of diamonds.

So anyway, the Coach cogitated on cards and trading for – literally – minutes and came up with a brilliant means of simplifying poor George’s dimemma: Trading Cards. Obvious, really.

Carbon Trading Top TrumpsI give you: Carbon Trading Top Trumps.

The cards feature 48 different carbon-related products such as carbon-dioxide, nuclear cooling rods, carbon-14 isotopes, coal, diamonds, and pencils, with a quick reference guide to each of their complex scientific and green credentials.

The cards can also be used a fun trading game.

WARNING: Saddam Hussein’s gardener’s assistant remains at large, and the public is warned not to approach him if he looks like he might be carrying a spray gun of weed-killer.


1. Yes, literally. A bump on the head from the CIA followed by a whisking off to some secret airbase in some “neutral” country somewhere. A simple “Coach, I need some advice” would have done..

Carbon Trading Top Trumps

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Politicians, jet-setting celebrities, and Bono would have you believe that it’s OK to hop on a plane and fly halfway around the world on a regular basis if each time you do so you employ some dodgy foreign company to plant a few quid’s worth of trees for you in Africa somewhere.

The equation goes something like:

Plane burns fossil fuel: + carbon dioxide
New trees make oxygen: – carbon dioxide
= carbon neutral

It is, of course, a complete and total scam. It’s based on a statistical fudge which works by only looking at a very narrow time frame, whilst ignoring other factors.


Scientific fact zoneFor the purposes of these calculations, a tree can be though of as a carbon “store” – whilst alive, the net product is carbon dioxide is taken from the air and converted to oxygen, which is released back into the air, and carbon, from which the tree is made.

When a tree dies, it’ll likely either be burnt, or rot, each of which reverses the process and combines the stored carbon with oxygen to produce the unfriendly greenhouse gasses that we fear so much.

Fossilised trees retain their carbon in the form of oil, coal or gas, until such time as these are burnt.

In each case, the net effect can indeed be considered “carbon neutral”.


The problem with burning fossil fuels is that the equation acts over millions of years.

The carbon dioxide released from them has been stored over a huge period of time, but has all been re-released into the atmosphere in the past 200 years or so. That’s the problem.

Planting some trees won’t suck it all back away again.

So anyway, having debunked the idea of carbon offsetting, let’s go back to the political equation:

  flying + carbon offsetting = OK

Where we’ve already seen that carbon offsetting has no useful effect, so the equation can be re-written in the following form, which is what they’re actually telling you:


   Carbon offsetting = pointless,
   Flying = OK
  

So what was all the fuss about in the first place?

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