Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

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Cycle
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Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Cycle » Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:56 am

I calculated the carbon footprint of my business travel last year at 5t. I didn't think flying was a huge carbon contributor, but I was surprised to learn it was my biggest category.

I was curious what it would take to offset some of my transportation carbon.

1) switch to a job near home -> save 1.3t
2) stop business travel -> save 5t
3) skip 1 international business trip -> save 1.2t

Or I could just buy some carbon offsets. $3.30/t.
source (https://www.energysage.com/alternative- ... n-offsets/)

So to get carbon neutral on a 40 mile round trip car commute would cost me $14.50/yr (4.4t*$3.3/t=$14.5). I currently take the bus to work, which saves 3t/yr or $9.9 worth of carbon credits :confused .

Why are these offsets so cheap?

It seams there must be a lot of low hanging fruit for reducing carbon out there if its only $3.30/t. I'd like to know, bc if some of this low hanging fruit is within my circle of control I'd rather impact it directly than buy a credit. Buying credits would dwarf any changes I could make to my ~10t/yr footprint.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am

Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

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Kenkat
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:18 am

They are cheap because supply far outweighs demand. Utilities are already producing energy from alternative sources. Let’s say 15% of energy is being sourced from alternative sources. If we do nothing, we are all reducing the carbon footprint by 15%. If someone wants to use 100% alternative energy, ok - I’ll charge you a small fee and now you are using 100% alternative energy and the rest of us are using 14.99999999999% alternative energy. The issue is, it’s really just an accounting entry - the total carbon footprint remains the same. If enough people want to go 100% alternative energy, there will eventually be a problem as demand will exceed supply, driving up the cost of the credits until people say “that’s too much”.

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JoMoney
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JoMoney » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:26 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am
Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
I don't think carbon dioxide is pollution... but to the extent that it might cause disastrous climate changes, I have serious concerns about turning it into a financial product to be traded.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

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David Jay
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by David Jay » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:44 am

Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:18 am
They are cheap because supply far outweighs demand.
And THAT is the answer.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future - Niels Bohr | To get the "risk premium", you really do have to take the risk - nisiprius

JackoC
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JackoC » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:51 am

Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:18 am
They are cheap because supply far outweighs demand. Utilities are already producing energy from alternative sources. Let’s say 15% of energy is being sourced from alternative sources. If we do nothing, we are all reducing the carbon footprint by 15%. If someone wants to use 100% alternative energy, ok - I’ll charge you a small fee and now you are using 100% alternative energy and the rest of us are using 14.99999999999% alternative energy. The issue is, it’s really just an accounting entry - the total carbon footprint remains the same. If enough people want to go 100% alternative energy, there will eventually be a problem as demand will exceed supply, driving up the cost of the credits until people say “that’s too much”.
I'd just add, the supply/demand equation in any system of carbon trading is also driven by the limitation if any on overall carbon emissions. If you have a patchwork system of state mandates for % carbon free energy by utilities, some limited regional carbon credit trading (as among utilities in the northeast for example) but no overall national limit on carbon emissions, IOW the regulatory situation in the US now, and the price of alternative energy (at least at the margin*) is low, then the price of the credits will tend to be low. It could come out much higher in either your example of a groundswell of people wanting to buy the credits even at much higher prices, or a tight limit on the total supply of credits (an ambitious hard target for carbon emissions) even if there isn't that natural groundswell of consumer interest. Utilities would pay way more if there was a tight and hard overall carbon limit.

But even in countries/regions with quasi-hard carbon targets the targets and specific details of the complicated plans are often such that the traded price of carbon emissions is generally pretty low (Europe). The price of carbon in carbon trading systems is a function of the parameters govt's set (or don't) for such systems. The price doesn't magically seek and find the level where it truly reflects all current and future costs to humanity of a ton of carbon emissions. Estimates for the latter run in any extremely wide range.

*as in your example, with technology now available it's reasonably close to economically attractive to generate a small but significant % of electricity from alternatives even without any mandate. But if the mandates were raised immediately to 50% (and *50% average generation* not 50% of theoretical generating capacity) it would be a different story.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am

Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:56 am
I calculated the carbon footprint of my business travel last year at 5t. I didn't think flying was a huge carbon contributor, but I was surprised to learn it was my biggest category.

I was curious what it would take to offset some of my transportation carbon.

1) switch to a job near home -> save 1.3t
2) stop business travel -> save 5t
3) skip 1 international business trip -> save 1.2t

Or I could just buy some carbon offsets. $3.30/t.
source (https://www.energysage.com/alternative- ... n-offsets/)

So to get carbon neutral on a 40 mile round trip car commute would cost me $14.50/yr (4.4t*$3.3/t=$14.5). I currently take the bus to work, which saves 3t/yr or $9.9 worth of carbon credits :confused .

Why are these offsets so cheap?

It seams there must be a lot of low hanging fruit for reducing carbon out there if its only $3.30/t. I'd like to know, bc if some of this low hanging fruit is within my circle of control I'd rather impact it directly than buy a credit. Buying credits would dwarf any changes I could make to my ~10t/yr footprint.
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:

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Oicuryy
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Oicuryy » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am

Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year? This place charges $4.99/1000 lbs per month.
https://www.terrapass.com/product/subscription

I don't know anything about that site except that it was on the first page of a Google search. How does one know these places are legitimate?

Ron
Money is fungible | Abbreviations and Acronyms

Valuethinker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:28 pm

JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:51 am
Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:18 am
They are cheap because supply far outweighs demand. Utilities are already producing energy from alternative sources. Let’s say 15% of energy is being sourced from alternative sources. If we do nothing, we are all reducing the carbon footprint by 15%. If someone wants to use 100% alternative energy, ok - I’ll charge you a small fee and now you are using 100% alternative energy and the rest of us are using 14.99999999999% alternative energy. The issue is, it’s really just an accounting entry - the total carbon footprint remains the same. If enough people want to go 100% alternative energy, there will eventually be a problem as demand will exceed supply, driving up the cost of the credits until people say “that’s too much”.
I'd just add, the supply/demand equation in any system of carbon trading is also driven by the limitation if any on overall carbon emissions. If you have a patchwork system of state mandates for % carbon free energy by utilities, some limited regional carbon credit trading (as among utilities in the northeast for example) but no overall national limit on carbon emissions, IOW the regulatory situation in the US now, and the price of alternative energy (at least at the margin*) is low, then the price of the credits will tend to be low. It could come out much higher in either your example of a groundswell of people wanting to buy the credits even at much higher prices, or a tight limit on the total supply of credits (an ambitious hard target for carbon emissions) even if there isn't that natural groundswell of consumer interest. Utilities would pay way more if there was a tight and hard overall carbon limit.

But even in countries/regions with quasi-hard carbon targets the targets and specific details of the complicated plans are often such that the traded price of carbon emissions is generally pretty low (Europe). The price of carbon in carbon trading systems is a function of the parameters govt's set (or don't) for such systems. The price doesn't magically seek and find the level where it truly reflects all current and future costs to humanity of a ton of carbon emissions. Estimates for the latter run in any extremely wide range.

*as in your example, with technology now available it's reasonably close to economically attractive to generate a small but significant % of electricity from alternatives even without any mandate. But if the mandates were raised immediately to 50% (and *50% average generation* not 50% of theoretical generating capacity) it would be a different story.
Note the European Emission Trading System emissions credits are up around 40 Euros I believe. Per tonne emitted.

System seems to be doing what it was designed to do.

wootwoot
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by wootwoot » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:30 pm

Carbon credits are far too expensive. They should be free.

JackoC
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JackoC » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:39 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:56 am

Or I could just buy some carbon offsets. $3.30/t.
source (https://www.energysage.com/alternative- ... n-offsets/)
1. Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

2. If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
1. I see that point a lot but it in turn doesn't make sense to me. Rich people can have all sorts of things non-rich people can't. It seems to me arbitrary to exclude paying for carbon offsets. Assuming such a system really reflects the costs of the carbon emissions to everyone else, which I admit is a bit 'if' in practice, but in principal why not? The reason not to do it with speeding on public roads would be, IMO, the manifest impracticality of coming up with a payment formula and mechanism that really correctly compensated the other people on the same road at the same time for the increased danger they face. But if it's a set of different lanes you have to pay to get onto...well we already kind of have that, pay to avoid congestion lanes I drive past near Baltimore/DC though none AFAIK here in the NY area. Some people oppose those on 'principal' too, but I don't get that either. It's a premium service people are allowed to use their money to pay for, like first class or private jet flying.

2. The effect of more trees in the temperate zones on climate is unfortunately somewhat ambiguous. The carbon they absorb by growing may be more than offset by the greater radiant heat they absorb in the winter time once the snow falls off, particularly evergreens as are common in huge forests in cold regions, compared to bare snow covered ground. More of an issue the colder the region. But planting trees in the tropics is unambiguously good to counteract carbon emissions. Some of the offset plans are based on that.

JackoC
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JackoC » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:54 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:28 pm
Note the European Emission Trading System emissions credits are up around 40 Euros I believe. Per tonne emitted.

System seems to be doing what it was designed to do.
The Dec EUA futures contract closed at 19.77 Eur on Friday, peak was around 30 before the financial crisis, but was under 10 from 2012 to early this year. Whereas the recent IPCC report gave a range of necessary carbon cost from $135 to $5,500 per ton by 2030. Even $3.3 per ton 'does what it's supposed to' to some very limited degree. The point is just that 'market forces' don't and can't determine what the level needs to be. Why is it cheap (if deemed so)? Market forces *within the parameters set*.

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Cycle
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Cycle » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm

Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year? This place charges $4.99/1000 lbs per month.
https://www.terrapass.com/product/subscription

I don't know anything about that site except that it was on the first page of a Google search. How does one know these places are legitimate?

Ron
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).

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Cycle
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Cycle » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:50 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:18 am
They are cheap because supply far outweighs demand. Utilities are already producing energy from alternative sources. Let’s say 15% of energy is being sourced from alternative sources. If we do nothing, we are all reducing the carbon footprint by 15%. If someone wants to use 100% alternative energy, ok - I’ll charge you a small fee and now you are using 100% alternative energy and the rest of us are using 14.99999999999% alternative energy. The issue is, it’s really just an accounting entry - the total carbon footprint remains the same. If enough people want to go 100% alternative energy, there will eventually be a problem as demand will exceed supply, driving up the cost of the credits until people say “that’s too much”.
In this interview they say renewable energy is now cheaper in Europe than traditional energy since the manufacturing has largely moved from Germany to China and it is highly automated. It still costs more in germany because those initial capital investments are still being paid for, but new markets won't have that sunk cost. Spain was given as an example that can get renewable energy very cheaply.

https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/t ... ables.html

JackoC
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JackoC » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm

Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:20 pm

JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:39 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:56 am

Or I could just buy some carbon offsets. $3.30/t.
source (https://www.energysage.com/alternative- ... n-offsets/)
1. Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

2. If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:


2. The effect of more trees in the temperate zones on climate is unfortunately somewhat ambiguous. The carbon they absorb by growing may be more than offset by the greater radiant heat they absorb in the winter time once the snow falls off, particularly evergreens as are common in huge forests in cold regions, compared to bare snow covered ground. More of an issue the colder the region. But planting trees in the tropics is unambiguously good to counteract carbon emissions. Some of the offset plans are based on that.
Yes, there was a recent study about the negative effects of planting evergreens close to the poles.

Luckily I live in SoCal so that doesn't affect me.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:25 pm

JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Can you clarify what 'offset' means in this context?

For $500/person/yr, can we negate the impact of the generated carbon?

Valuethinker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:47 am

JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:54 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:28 pm
Note the European Emission Trading System emissions credits are up around 40 Euros I believe. Per tonne emitted.

System seems to be doing what it was designed to do.
The Dec EUA futures contract closed at 19.77 Eur on Friday, peak was around 30 before the financial crisis, but was under 10 from 2012 to early this year. Whereas the recent IPCC report gave a range of necessary carbon cost from $135 to $5,500 per ton by 2030. Even $3.3 per ton 'does what it's supposed to' to some very limited degree. The point is just that 'market forces' don't and can't determine what the level needs to be. Why is it cheap (if deemed so)? Market forces *within the parameters set*.
We could have an interesting and informed discussion 're problems w ETS. But not here.

Sorry I was wrong 're latest price (I was reading a broker note on SSE or Drax which quoted that price must have been taken off forward curve).

I agree the market cannot decide the socially optimal price of carbon.

In a traded permits system you have to set the number of permits exogenously, without political interference, and then let the market trade to that price. It matters a lot whether you allow "banking" of permits. The permit quantity needs to be set by scientific research and estimates.

(Apologies to our American brethren but you also have to do it in tonnes not tons to match international scientific standards like IPCC forecasts ;-) )

In a carbon tax system you set the tariff at your best price guess and see what happens to emissions then iterate up or down as appropriate. Weitzman laid it all out in his famous 1974 article (Weizman?)

ETS started as the former but may be evolving towards the latter.

30 Euro per tonne is enough to cause coal and brown coal fired stations real pain and force switching to gas and renewables. However to the extent it causes GHG intensive industrial processes to offshore to China etc and then we import those products it is not a net win. Steel cement aluminium etc.

You've made good points there. The whole field is a work in progress.

Valuethinker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:55 am

JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Just to add to what JackofC wrote 1 tonne Carbon equals 3.667 tonnes CO2.

Most international sources and the official ones use tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

From memory 1 tonne of sodium hexafluoride has an equivalence to 20 000 tonnes CO2. 1 tonne methane (CH4 ie natural gas) about 20x (Have to check that. It is 100x as good an absorber of infrared light but it only lasts 20 years in the atmosphere. Need to look up what the standard adjustment factor is).

Valuethinker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:03 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:25 pm
JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Can you clarify what 'offset' means in this context?

For $500/person/yr, can we negate the impact of the generated carbon?
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:25 pm
JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Can you clarify what 'offset' means in this context?

For $500/person/yr, can we negate the impact of the generated carbon?
Almost certainly not. It's very hard to find a way which genuinely cause a reduction in emissions.

BUT if you give it to a rainforest charity like Rainforest Action Network you could lead to the abatement of the more. Much more.

Most estimates of saving rainforest suggest costs of less than 10 dollars and may be less than 5 dollars per tonne of emissions abated.

Campaigning is the way to do that. Palm oil bans etc.

What charities and campaign groups need the most is regular unrestricted as to purpose monthly donations that allow them to plan strategically and invest.

Similar support for green campaign organizations in your own country that lobby the political system.

Slacker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Slacker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:13 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:56 am
I calculated the carbon footprint of my business travel last year at 5t. I didn't think flying was a huge carbon contributor, but I was surprised to learn it was my biggest category.

I was curious what it would take to offset some of my transportation carbon.

1) switch to a job near home -> save 1.3t
2) stop business travel -> save 5t
3) skip 1 international business trip -> save 1.2t

Or I could just buy some carbon offsets. $3.30/t.
source (https://www.energysage.com/alternative- ... n-offsets/)

So to get carbon neutral on a 40 mile round trip car commute would cost me $14.50/yr (4.4t*$3.3/t=$14.5). I currently take the bus to work, which saves 3t/yr or $9.9 worth of carbon credits :confused .

Why are these offsets so cheap?

It seams there must be a lot of low hanging fruit for reducing carbon out there if its only $3.30/t. I'd like to know, bc if some of this low hanging fruit is within my circle of control I'd rather impact it directly than buy a credit. Buying credits would dwarf any changes I could make to my ~10t/yr footprint.
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Pay $10 and get 10 trees from arbor day foundation
https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=memberships

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:30 am

Slacker wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:13 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Pay $10 and get 10 trees from arbor day foundation
https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=memberships
Perfect, thanks!

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by nedsaid » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:02 pm

I don't worry about this at all. When I see people who really push this get into energy efficient homes and quit flying their private jets all over the world, then I will take this more seriously. Pretty much a case of do what I say, not what I do. Actually, the United States has done a good job on this issue, mainly because of the availability of cheap natural gas. Much cleaner than coal to generate electricity. I would focus on energy efficiency if you are concerned about this.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:12 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:03 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:25 pm
JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Can you clarify what 'offset' means in this context?

For $500/person/yr, can we negate the impact of the generated carbon?
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:25 pm
JackoC wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:16 pm
Cycle wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm
Oicuryy wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:33 am
Where are you buying offsets for $3.30/ton per year?
I just pulled that number from the link I posted in the original post. I saw other numbers, like $10/t (2200lbs), but looks like not all offsets are created equal.

Even at that price, seems pretty cheap to me. I don't fully understand the credit. Something ain't adding up.

In the US average carbon is 19t/person. 300MM people*19t*$10/t= $57B/yr. That seems like pretty low numbers to be carbon neutral for individuals (excluding industry).
One point which could possibly affect various info is ton (or tonne 1000 kg~2204#) of *carbon* or *carbon dioxide* IOW merely whether you include the weight of the chemically combined oxygen in the benchmark gas ('CO2 equivalent' to include other GHG's). The EUA futures are quoted in tonnes CO2 equiv. Total US energy related CO2 emissions 2017 are quoted by EIA as 5.14bil tonnes CO2, so ballpark 16 tonnes per capita CO2 for everything including industry. The potential add ons would be non energy stuff like plus/minus of agriculture and land use (and the energy numbers aren't beyond dispute, like impact of methane leakage for example). Anyway not a different ballpark from your number. But it seems references to tonnes C might still potentially creep in.

But back to your latest point, yes, if the real cost of CO2 emissions is only even the current EUA futures price (at a multiyear high) now of ~$23, the whole thing isn't *that* huge a deal, $437 per person in the US assuming 19 tonnes, ~0.7% of GDP per capita. But that's only going to make a big difference in CO2 emissions if the economic incline, so to speak, up which you have to push non-carbon and energy saving solutions is very shallow. $3 says it would almost happen by itself, just the lightest push will suffice, $23 somewhat more of a push, noticeable but not really high cost. $5,500/tonne (~150% of GDP) upper end of IPCC estimated range needed by 2030, says emissions have to be drastically cut and it will extremely costly to do so (the cost would be contained to 25% of today's per capita GDP only if the emissions went from 19 to <3 tonnes per person, for example).

My main point is not to discourage or criticize looking into such offsets, just that it's very uncertain to what you degree you are offsetting the real cost of your emissions at the kind of prices you are seeing in any current carbon market. Whereas not doing the flight has a more certain impact, on your minuscule contribution to the total at least.
Can you clarify what 'offset' means in this context?

For $500/person/yr, can we negate the impact of the generated carbon?
Almost certainly not. It's very hard to find a way which genuinely cause a reduction in emissions.

BUT if you give it to a rainforest charity like Rainforest Action Network you could lead to the abatement of the more. Much more.

Most estimates of saving rainforest suggest costs of less than 10 dollars and may be less than 5 dollars per tonne of emissions abated.

Campaigning is the way to do that. Palm oil bans etc.

What charities and campaign groups need the most is regular unrestricted as to purpose monthly donations that allow them to plan strategically and invest.

Similar support for green campaign organizations in your own country that lobby the political system.
I thought Palm oil was terrible for the environment because of the way forests were cleared in Indonesia. However, on a recent trip to Australia, an exhibit at the zoo talked about sustainable Palm oil.... Does this mean I can go back to eating Nutella, the only item on my diet that contains Palm oil? :)

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tadamsmar
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by tadamsmar » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:28 pm

This is a 2010 article, not sure if the regulations are better now.
...the business of carbon offsets is close to a billion dollar industry with nearly no regulation, enforcement, measurements or even proof that carbon offsets are doing anything but filling the coffers of middle men and adding extra profit to the bottom line of large travel companies.
https://www.wired.com/2010/04/are-carbo ... -anything/

Maybe there is a way to make sure the vendor is somehow certified, not sure.

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JoMoney
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JoMoney » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:05 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:28 pm
This is a 2010 article, not sure if the regulations are better now.
...the business of carbon offsets is close to a billion dollar industry with nearly no regulation, enforcement, measurements or even proof that carbon offsets are doing anything but filling the coffers of middle men and adding extra profit to the bottom line of large travel companies.
https://www.wired.com/2010/04/are-carbo ... -anything/

Maybe there is a way to make sure the vendor is somehow certified, not sure.
Even beyond whether or not the 'offsets' are doing anything, sometimes the money is used in ways to "offset carbon" that might be objectionable, probably the least offensive being the displacement of farm land and food in poor areas so plants that are believed to soak up larger amounts of C02 can be planted... meanwhile the developed world gets to feel a self-licensing effect to keep doing it.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:12 pm

I thought Palm oil was terrible for the environment because of the way forests were cleared in Indonesia. However, on a recent trip to Australia, an exhibit at the zoo talked about sustainable Palm oil.... Does this mean I can go back to eating Nutella, the only item on my diet that contains Palm oil? :)
I was at a talk where Jane Goodall, of primate study fame, told us that there was no such thing as sustainable palm oil.

I would tend to take her word for it.

European biodiesel regs are a particular horror in this regard.

Valuethinker
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:06 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:28 pm
This is a 2010 article, not sure if the regulations are better now.
...the business of carbon offsets is close to a billion dollar industry with nearly no regulation, enforcement, measurements or even proof that carbon offsets are doing anything but filling the coffers of middle men and adding extra profit to the bottom line of large travel companies.
https://www.wired.com/2010/04/are-carbo ... -anything/

Maybe there is a way to make sure the vendor is somehow certified, not sure.
The Clean Development Mechanism was an annex to the Kyoto Treaty which created just such a mechanism for developed countries to buy emissions abatement in developing countries -- as a way of paying for the latter's adjustment process. A lot of effort was spent refining verification and audit trails.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Dev ... _Mechanism

I don't think the above is fully up to date. Usual health warnings with wikipedia although it appears to be well researched and objective.

Nonetheless there was concern that, for example, companies in China were opening up CFC factories, so that they could be paid to shut the down. There was also the question of additivity, whether these were genuine reductions in GHG emissions or something that would have happened anyways.

I'd have to check but I think the CDM mechanism eventually collapsed. I expect at some point it will be replaced by some form of carbon market that works internationally.

it's basically easier to charge a tax on these things, to encourage reductions, than it is to incentivize people to do less of the bad thing.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by MindBogler » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:41 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Even more than that, cut down a tree and plant several in its place. Plants do the majority of their carbon fixation during the early years and so it is more effective to plant more trees than it is to let old ones grow longer. This is what always gave me a chuckle about the idea of not harvesting forests for lumber. As long as they are replanting it is more beneficial to the environment to cut down old growth and build things with the lumber. Otherwise mother nature will extract that fixated carbon via forest fires eventually.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:22 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:34 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:12 pm

I thought Palm oil was terrible for the environment because of the way forests were cleared in Indonesia. However, on a recent trip to Australia, an exhibit at the zoo talked about sustainable Palm oil.... Does this mean I can go back to eating Nutella, the only item on my diet that contains Palm oil? :)
I was at a talk where Jane Goodall, of primate study fame, told us that there was no such thing as sustainable palm oil.

I would tend to take her word for it.

European biodiesel regs are a particular horror in this regard.
I knew it was too good to be true. 😫

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unclescrooge
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:24 pm

MindBogler wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:41 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Even more than that, cut down a tree and plant several in its place. Plants do the majority of their carbon fixation during the early years and so it is more effective to plant more trees than it is to let old ones grow longer. This is what always gave me a chuckle about the idea of not harvesting forests for lumber. As long as they are replanting it is more beneficial to the environment to cut down old growth and build things with the lumber. Otherwise mother nature will extract that fixated carbon via forest fires eventually.
Definitely planning on cutting down a couple of Chinese camphor trees and replacing them with several flowering trees. Can I claim carbon credits? :mrgreen:

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by OnTrack » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:29 pm

MindBogler wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:41 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Even more than that, cut down a tree and plant several in its place. Plants do the majority of their carbon fixation during the early years and so it is more effective to plant more trees than it is to let old ones grow longer. This is what always gave me a chuckle about the idea of not harvesting forests for lumber. As long as they are replanting it is more beneficial to the environment to cut down old growth and build things with the lumber. Otherwise mother nature will extract that fixated carbon via forest fires eventually.
Even if there is no forest fire, if the tree dies or is cut down and and left on the ground to decay, the the carbon will be released back into the atmosphere. If you cut down the tree and use it for lumber, that should keep the carbon locked up longer although at some point even whatever is made from the lumber might burn or decay. I also suspect that the carbon locked in the lumber is somewhat offset by carbon released while harvesting, milling and transporting the lumber.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:21 am

OnTrack wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:29 pm
MindBogler wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:41 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:59 am
Carbon credits never made any sense to me. It's like saying rich people can drive faster than the speed limit for an extra fee.

If you want to help the planet, plant more trees.

On a related note, I'm currently looking for donations to plant trees on my 10,000 sq ft hillside lot. I'll accept money, seeds, saplings, irrigation equipment and even buckets of water. :mrgreen:
Even more than that, cut down a tree and plant several in its place. Plants do the majority of their carbon fixation during the early years and so it is more effective to plant more trees than it is to let old ones grow longer. This is what always gave me a chuckle about the idea of not harvesting forests for lumber. As long as they are replanting it is more beneficial to the environment to cut down old growth and build things with the lumber. Otherwise mother nature will extract that fixated carbon via forest fires eventually.
Even if there is no forest fire, if the tree dies or is cut down and and left on the ground to decay, the the carbon will be released back into the atmosphere. If you cut down the tree and use it for lumber, that should keep the carbon locked up longer although at some point even whatever is made from the lumber might burn or decay. I also suspect that the carbon locked in the lumber is somewhat offset by carbon released while harvesting, milling and transporting the lumber.
To the extent that trees get buried, the carbon released from decay may not be released back into the atmosphere.
Tyrell: [Tyrell explains to Roy why he can't extend his lifespan] The facts of life... to make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established.

Batty: Why not?

Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies, like rats leaving a sinking ship; then the ship... sinks.

Batty: What about EMS-3 recombination?

Tyrell: We've already tried it - ethyl, methane, sulfinate as an alkylating agent and potent mutagen; it created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before it even left the table.

Batty: Then a repressor protein, that would block the operating cells.

Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication; but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries with it a mutation - and you've got a virus again... but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.

Batty: But not to last.

Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you're the Prodigal Son; you're quite a prize!

Batty: I've done... questionable things.

Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.

Batty: Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for.
Professor David Keith has a company building a machine to extract CO2 from the atmosphere.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/ ... 2-capture/

https://www.cell.com/joule/fulltext/S25 ... 18)30225-3

Scaling that up to the kind of necessary scale would be a titanic task. And it would need really huge amounts of energy -- perhaps doubling or tripling the energy output of our civilization. But we are entering the age of the Anthropocene, where the primary driver of the Earth Climate System is its most successful species - us. We will try this or something similar.

We are Roy Batty, the Nexus 6* Replicant of Blade Runner -- or rather we are Tyrell, his creator. At least this phase of civilization, that began around 1750 in England, is Roy Batty. We have a time limit, and that time is fast approaching.
Batty: I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.
* a nice inside reference by Google ;-).

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by bertilak » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:29 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am
Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
I thought the idea was that carbon offsets were used to subsidize carbon-reducing activities. Isn't that what the word "offset" is all about?
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by TinkerPDX » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:42 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am
Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
Disagree. The goal is to limit pollution to the point where marginal cost = marginal benefit, and for those costs to be internalized into the economy if whoever is experiencing those benefits.

The problem with climate change (as far as market signals to I for decision making) is that there’s no price signal; most costs are externalized, so there is lots of pollution that isn’t worth it overall, even though it is to the decision maker who doesn’t pay the cost of it.

Offsets (at least to an extent) would solve this if mandatory; but then, if they were mandatory, they wouldn’t all be so cheap, because weed exhaust the low hanging fruit quickly.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:49 am

bertilak wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:29 am
cheese_breath wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am
Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
I thought the idea was that carbon offsets were used to subsidize carbon-reducing activities. Isn't that what the word "offset" is all about?
It's much harder to incentivize good behaviour because of the surplus problem (I would have done this anyways, now I get paid to do it as well!).

It's better in economics, both in theory and practice, to tax the bad behaviour -- this is what William Nordhaus' Nobel Prize in economics this year (Swedish Bank's prize in economics in honour of Alfred Nobel). The negative Externality (a transaction between 2 parties which is not priced) which is not currently being priced by the market. That can either be through a direct tax, or by rationing the quantity of bad emissions and letting the market set the price of a unit of bad emissions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigovian_tax

When you get to something like benzene, which is carcinogenic at any known concentration, you wind up just banning it - zero emissions allowed. Think leaded gasoline, or CFCs or noise limits on lawnmowers. We will get to that with PM 2.5 particles, as the health hazards of those become more and more clear (the latest research links them to IQ loss and Alzheimer's disease).

http://www.samefacts.com/2018/07/everyt ... -chapters/

insightful discussion of the policy realities (wrapped up in a biblical allegory).
Anybody who works on public policy knows that identifying sound policies (to niggle, the Pareto onion surface of quasi-optimal policies from a chosen starting-point) is just the first step. Getting something done is politics: persuasion, mobilisation, fundraising, horsetrading on platforms, fighting opposition, winning elections, crafting budgets and legislation.
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:50 am

TinkerPDX wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:42 am
cheese_breath wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:16 am
Better question I think is, why are there carbon credits at all? Not that I agree with all the anti-pollution regulations, but if I did I would ask why should someone with more money be allowed to put more pollution into the atmosphere than he would if he had less money. If one was really serious about curbing pollution the goal should be to pollute as little as possible, not pollute more because you can buy credits from others.
Disagree. The goal is to limit pollution to the point where marginal cost = marginal benefit, and for those costs to be internalized into the economy if whoever is experiencing those benefits.

The problem with climate change (as far as market signals to I for decision making) is that there’s no price signal; most costs are externalized, so there is lots of pollution that isn’t worth it overall, even though it is to the decision maker who doesn’t pay the cost of it.

Offsets (at least to an extent) would solve this if mandatory; but then, if they were mandatory, they wouldn’t all be so cheap, because weed exhaust the low hanging fruit quickly.
http://www.samefacts.com/2014/09/moral- ... on-charge/ is an introduction to the economics of the whole thing.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:54 am

http://www.samefacts.com/2018/02/energy ... -a-primer/

the above discusses various ways of carbon abatement - burying biochar etc.

I have quoted the headers below.
The technology list

Start by leaving out atmospheric geoengineering (too dangerous), extra-atmospheric (pies in the sky), and power station CCS (tried at huge expense and found wanting). Here are some candidates still standing. They rely on souping up existing natural processes, so the risks are limited.

Biology group

Reafforestation

BECCS (Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)


Biochar
Conservation agriculture

Biomass burial at sea

Mineral carbonation group

Olivine weathering

Basalt on farmland

Injection into basalt rocks

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:06 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:49 am
It's much harder to incentivize good behaviour because of the surplus problem (I would have done this anyways, now I get paid to do it as well!).
Still, it has to be said, that I appreciate the various government incentives for my geothermal installation, which will be approximately 40% of the cost.
I would have done it anyway, but it might have been a much more difficult conversation with my wife.
Zero Net Carbon by 2019.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by sunny_socal » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:22 am

Plant a few trees and you'll be good. Plants eat carbon, it is not poison.

I'd never spend money on such credits even if they were 1 cent.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:30 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:06 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:49 am
It's much harder to incentivize good behaviour because of the surplus problem (I would have done this anyways, now I get paid to do it as well!).
Still, it has to be said, that I appreciate the various government incentives for my geothermal installation, which will be approximately 40% of the cost.
I would have done it anyway, but it might have been a much more difficult conversation with my wife.
The issue is where you have non appropriable benefits.

If the benefits to the society as a whole exceed those captured by the individual investor, in other words "spill over benefits" then that justifies a subsidy.

The classic example is R&D. We underinvest, as a civilization, in energy Research & Development. This is a key critique of the existing solar industry (from a strong supporter and analyst of that industry) https://www.amazon.com/Taming-Sun-Innov ... 0262037688

If we compare the percentage of Sales spent by the energy industry on R&D (and most of that is related to extraction of fossil fuels) vs. either Technology or Biomedical sectors, Energy does not look good. And that also spans back to fundamental research (where a lot of the Energy spending is in any case related to legacy nuclear issues -- we do have a nuclear waste problem, but solving that legacy does not move the frontiers of technology out).

Heat pumps? It depends. A sufficiently large tax on fossil fuels like heating oil or propane would also have done it. However that has significant distributional issues. The argument in favour would be about the long term benefits past the term of any current inhabitant.

There are no easy answers. And we can't pretend this process is going to be without cost or pain. But then if you live in Miami, you are going to experience the pain anyways (and not only Miami - Boston's Back Bay, too; Norfolk VA; Bangladesh etc.). This is about damage limitation in the face of a very different world.

Shrug. We defeated Hitler and we won the Cold War. Both seemed immense, almost impossible tasks with huge costs and unclear gains. Plenty of fallen in "some little corner of a foreign field/ that is forever England" (or the United States). Somebody paid that price too and we are rich countries - a monetary cost for us seems relatively insignificant compared to what our forefathers spent to get us here.

Normally we quote Churchill at about this point. That statue in Parliament Square, saying "if I, a has been beat down politician of dubious reputation, can rise again to Glory, so can you".

But for clarity of purpose, it's hard to beat Admiral Horatio Nelson.
The Business of the English commander-in-chief being first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided
They don't call the next 2 centuries of Royal Naval glory "The Nelson Factor" for no reason.
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:31 am

sunny_socal wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:22 am
Plant a few trees and you'll be good. Plants eat carbon, it is not poison.

I'd never spend money on such credits even if they were 1 cent.
You are off by an order of magnitude in terms of what one would have to plant to offset one's emissions. Alas it's not a simple problem.

I agree that a carbon permitting system or a carbon tax is more likely to lead to optimal outcomes.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by knightrider » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:05 am

I bought around $150 (50t) worth of offsets this year from terrapas. It seems a reputable place. Like others said, I do it to support the cause. I have no doubt we will soon have carbon tax.. So this is just practice :-)

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by TBillT » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:07 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:55 am

From memory 1 tonne of sodium hexafluoride has an equivalence to 20 000 tonnes CO2. 1 tonne methane (CH4 ie natural gas) about 20x (Have to check that. It is 100x as good an absorber of infrared light but it only lasts 20 years in the atmosphere. Need to look up what the standard adjustment factor is).
I think you probably mean *sulfur* hexafluoride...which is an interesting very heavy gas, we used to use in the laboratory for special tests

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:21 am

TBillT wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:07 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:55 am

From memory 1 tonne of sodium hexafluoride has an equivalence to 20 000 tonnes CO2. 1 tonne methane (CH4 ie natural gas) about 20x (Have to check that. It is 100x as good an absorber of infrared light but it only lasts 20 years in the atmosphere. Need to look up what the standard adjustment factor is).
I think you probably mean *sulfur* hexafluoride...which is an interesting very heavy gas, we used to use in the laboratory for special tests
Yes. Sorry. I should have googled it - just heard about it last week for the first time. Wrote sodium and thought "that would be hellishly dangerous" - my brain elided sulphur and sodium (not a mistake to be made in the lab!).

https://www.ghgprotocol.org/sites/defau ... 6%29_1.pdf

CO2 equivalence 23,500 times

CH4 (methane - natural gas) 28x

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_hexafluoride
Applications
More than 10,000 tons of SF6 are produced per year, most of which (over 8,000 tons) is used as a gaseous dielectric medium in the electrical industry.[8] Other main uses include an inert gas for the casting of magnesium, and as an inert filling for insulated glazing windows.
....
SF
6 gas under pressure is used as an insulator in gas insulated switchgear (GIS) because it has a much higher dielectric strength than air or dry nitrogen. The high dielectric strength is a result of the gas's high electronegativity and density. This property makes it possible to significantly reduce the size of electrical gear. This makes GIS more suitable for certain purposes such as indoor placement, as opposed to air-insulated electrical gear, which takes up considerably more room. Gas-insulated electrical gear is also more resistant to the effects of pollution and climate, as well as being more reliable in long-term operation because of its controlled operating environment.

...
Mauna Loa sulfur hexafluoride timeseries.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas that it has evaluated, with a global warming potential of 23,900[24] times that of CO2 when compared over a 100-year period. Measurements of SF6 show that its global average mixing ratio has increased by about 0.2 ppt (parts per trillion) per year to over 9 ppt as of February 2018.[25][26] Sulfur hexafluoride is also extremely long-lived, is inert in the troposphere and stratosphere and has an estimated atmospheric lifetime of 800–3200 years.[27] SF6 is very stable (for countries reporting their emissions to the UNFCCC, a GWP of 23,900 for SF6 was suggested at the third Conference of the Parties: GWP used in Kyoto protocol).[28] Average global SF6 concentrations increased by about seven percent per year during the 1980s and 1990s, mostly as the result of its use in the magnesium production industry, and by electrical utilities and electronics manufacturers. Given the small amounts of SF6 released compared to carbon dioxide, its overall contribution to global warming is estimated to be less than 0.2 percent.[29]

In Europe, SF6 falls under the F-Gas directive which ban or control its use for several applications. Since 1 January 2006, SF6 is banned as a tracer gas and in all applications except high-voltage switchgear.[30] It was reported in 2013 that a three-year effort by the United States Department of Energy to identify and fix leaks at its laboratories in the United States such as the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where the gas is used as a high voltage insulator, had been productive, cutting annual leaks by 35,000 pounds. This was done by comparing purchases with inventory, assuming the difference was leaked, then locating and fixing the leaks.[4]

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by bloom2708 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:25 am

If Carbon Dioxide is .04% of the atmosphere, why aren't we worried more about Nitrogen or Argon?

Who gets the carbon offset money and how do they offset CO2? If I have to start buying air by the quart I am going to be :annoyed
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:02 am

bloom2708 wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:25 am
If Carbon Dioxide is .04% of the atmosphere, why aren't we worried more about Nitrogen or Argon?

Who gets the carbon offset money and how do they offset CO2? If I have to start buying air by the quart I am going to be :annoyed
I assume that's not a rhetorical question?

If the atmospheric concentration of cyanide gas was more than a small percentage-- you'd worry. Ditto of asbestos fibres. Absolute concentration is no guarantee of safety.

As to CO2. The Earth's atmosphere is transparent to many infrared frequencies. If it was completely transparent, the equilibrium temperature would be about minus 15 degrees Centigrade. All of the light which hit the surface, and was then absorbed by the Earth's surface and reradiated would radiate back out into space. We would be an iceball (depends on your assumptions re Earth's albedo).

Fortunately it is not. That's called the Greenhouse Effect, the same thing that makes Venus an 800 degree at the surface hell, and Mars (which lacks it) a frozen ball. CO2, water vapour, nitrous oxide, methane, CFCs, HCFCs -- they all block infra red radiation on particular frequencies.

The problem is that as the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increase, the lower altitudes heat up - the equivalent of wrapping more blankets around the Earth (paradoxically the upper layers, which are much thinner, thus get colder)-- the heat gets trapped lower down in the atmosphere. The move from immediately pre industrial times (c. 1700) of 280 ppm to now (410 ppm) has been the flicker of an eye by geologic standards. At current rates of emission and acceleration we are well on the way to a doubling sometime post mid century.

That basic model was first derived in the late 19th century - the 2 key names are John Tyndal and Sven Arrhenius (the latter was a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry). For all that we have learned about the Earth's atmosphere and climate system then, plus the application of supercomputers to the modelling of the Earth's atmosphere, the basic estimate of sensitivity holds. Double the CO2 from pre industrial levels, and raise the temperature at the surface by 3 degrees C +/- 2 degrees. The higher end (above 3 degrees C) is associated with some very difficult changes in the habitability of the planet - climate belts, extreme weather events, etc.

https://history.aip.org/climate/index.htm is an excellent and very readable history of the history of the science.

Uncertainty is not our friend in this, because things could be worse than we believe -- those outcomes on the right end of the spectrum have terrifying implications. Already certain cities in Eurasia are reaching temperatures where human beings just spontaneously die in those temperatures. Over 50 degrees C -- and this is not only in daytime but also night time (which warms up faster than the daytime, again the greenhouse effect). Unless we engage in large scale genetic manipulation of the human genome, we are making parts of this planet uninhabitable by human beings.

The problem is there are positive feedback effects that we don't yet have a complete handle on. The main ones are that the poles are warming much faster than the planet as a whole (as is predicted by the theory and the models). Snow and ice reflect sunlight, land and seawater absorb it, thus triggering a positive feedback loop - warmer Arctic seas mean more warming mean less snow and ice mean more warming ...

and the other one which is truly terrifying in the possibility of a "methane pulse". There are enormous amounts of methane embedded in the permafrost of the world's Arctic regions, and in very deep ocean off the edge of the Continental shelfs (methane clathrates). If one or both of those huge reservoirs start to release in large quantities, an uncontrollable warming loop could start - methane is a 100x better blocker of infra red than CO2 in the short run (although it lasts in the atmosphere for much less time). At least one of the geologic Great Extinctions (associated with the death of 50%+ of all life forms on the planet) may be associated with such an event. And the Arctic permafrost is definitely melting at an accelerated rate.

We know from a huge number of different ways of estimating that when the CO2 level of the atmosphere was similar to what it is now in the Earth's past, it was a lot warmer - to the point of having no permanent surface ice (the world's sea levels would be over 100 metres higher at that point).

However there are long lags in that warming - hundreds or thousands of years. The rise in CO2 concentrations (and related Green House Gases) has been so sudden by (most) past standards that most of the warming effect has yet to be felt (most of the heat gets dumped into the oceans).

In addition ocean acidity is rising. That impacts skeletal formation by shelled and backboned sea creatures. Destabilizing the life system under the ocean's surface is not clever because we really don't know how that will impact the rest of the Earth's life and climate systems.

We are conducting a giant, uncontrolled experiment in atmospheric chemistry, in our own home - and there are over 7 billion of us, soon to be c. 10 billion, and we don't have another home.

Welcome to the end of the Holocene, and the dawn of the Anthropocene - the age when Humanity makes a permanent impression on the geologic record.

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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by nedsaid » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:15 am

I know the Economist Magazine believes in all of this stuff but I have my doubts. First, the earth has been warmer than it is now, during the time of the Roman Empire, and history seems to show that civilization thrived. Second, the warming that we saw might have just been an emergence from the "Little Ice Age." Third, there seems to be a cyclicality to all of this. I have read that we saw warming during the 1920's and 1930's. Fourth, a lot of this is based upon computer models which have produced less than accurate forecasts. Two examples, the Ice Caps didn't disappear in 2013 and hurricane activity didn't pick up as predicted. Indeed, we saw a period of relative calm that lasted several years. Fifth, the influential people who lecture us most on this are energy hogs themselves, living in mansions and flying to conferences in private jets. The irony of the picture of private planes stacked up at Davos where the owners were attending a climate change conference.

Certainly I favor clean air and clean water. Certainly I favor greater energy efficiency and cleaner forms of energy. But there needs to be a real discussion on this and not just told "the science is settled." We can't even make 100% accurate short term weather forecasts. Too often, people who raise question are just silenced. Science has never been about "consensus." There is also the suspicion that the data has been tampered with.

Most of the North American continent was under sheets of ice not so many thousands of years ago. The earth warmed and there was no industry, no automobiles, no coal plants, and of course many fewer people. I also recall reading somewhere of a find of a Wholly Mammoth that appeared to have been flash frozen, like there had been a dramatic and sudden drop in temperatute. So it seems that climate changes over time and not too much man could do about it.

I also recall that when I was in grade school in the early 1970's that there was concern about a new ice age. Global cooling. Less than 15 years later, we were worried about warming. The hypothesis about warming and increased levels of carbon dioxide was a good one but there are many, many more factors at work here. In the 1970's, I remember that we had only twenty years before we were all polluted to death. Disaster is always around the corner but after a lifetime hearing conflicting theories and data, I am just skeptical.

Certainly, I applaud the great progress that has been made with environmental cleanup. Both the air and water are considerably cleaner than when I was a child. We are actually seeing reforestation here in North America. We have made progress with endangered species. So that battle hasn't been won yet and there is a lot to go but again much progress has been made.
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by cheese_breath » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:30 pm

Why no mention of cows here? Everybody knows cows are the cause of global warming. :P :P :P
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Re: Why are Carbon Offset Credits so cheap?

Post by JoMoney » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:49 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:30 pm
Why no mention of cows here? Everybody knows cows are the cause of global warming. :P :P :P
And exercise... it makes people exhale more C02.
I wonder if I stop exercising, if I can sell the difference for a carbon credit.
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