Post by Mike Skehan*
In a surprise move today, the EPA determined the Human species would be extinct by the year …. Wait, wait, that’s not true. Besides, if it were, there’s nothing I can do about it.
Let’s back up a moment, because total failure is just too big to wrap my head around. Let’s talk about ‘Carbon Neutrality’. Each of us consumes carbon that’s been created over millions of years, and converts it into something else – like CO2 gas that’s not so good for our atmosphere. This all contributes to a warmer planet, leading to all sorts of change on a global scale, that… Wait, wait, even that’s too big for me to grasp.
OK, let’s try this. The Internet provides all sorts of ‘Carbon Footprint’ calculators to determine how much of this carbon we each consume, in my case, a family of two, traveling a modest amount, and not being a vegetarian, it’s about 20 tons of CO2 per year. Now this isn’t helping one little bit. I wouldn’t recognize a truckload of carbon dioxide gas if it ran over me. Still too big a concept.
How about just me?
I burn electricity to heat and light my house and drive to town about once a week. I eat food from Bellingham, which I carry home by the bag load. Most of the energy required to make the electricity, gasoline, and food comes out of the ground from things that died millions of years ago. At the end of the day, I released about 110 pound of gas into the atmosphere. To be carbon neutral, I either have to consume less energy or find an alternate way to produce the heat, light, fuel and food that I demand or find a way to offset my habits, like convincing somebody in Brazil to not cut down his 40 acres of rain forest. Well, here I go again into fuzzy math land.
I guess to be carbon neutral I either have to quit eating, or find other food sources that don’t have to be fertilized in Oklahoma, and trucked to Fred Meyer’s. Riding a bike to town would be helpful, and maybe living in a straw bail house with skylights and having a coppiced wood forest in the backyard would get me down to near zero.
But what about my neighbor?
His truck can’t be getting over 10 mpg, and I swear the lights burn 24/7, so should I be thinking about being carbon negative to offset his very positive behavior? No, he’s a really nice guy, and might even listen to some crank ideas, if I show the way – IF I knew the way! And just how do I propose to be carbon negative, without writing a check to some organization that says they know how?
No, if this carbon thing is going to work for me, I have to be able to see it. Maybe a couple of potatoes coming out of the ground, or perhaps watching my wind turbine spin, and filling up the batteries on my golf cart I ride around in. But how practical are those measures?
So many questions, yet so few answers.
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