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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jackie Edwards salves his eco-guilt

Demo prez hopeful John Edwards -- in my mind, the only hope for the party -- announced today that he's going to take concrete steps to reduce his campaign's emission of greenhouse gases. No, he's not going to shut up. Instead, he's going to have the campaign buy "carbon offsets that support alternative energy production," and he's urging his staffers to turn down the heat, shut off the lights, etc.

Green, progressive, sustainable -- all the magic buzzwords are there. So now he'll have something to say in response to critics who point to all the jet fuel he's burning flying all over the country trying to get himself elected. At least he's acknowledging that there's an issue.

But declaring yourself "carbon neutral" -- that's pretty advanced for the vast majority of us. Sounds like a color in the colored pencil box.

Comments (49)

Does this mean he's going to downsize from his mansion to something a little more "green?" Or does buying carbon credits (the environmental equivalent of the Catholic "indulgence") mean he doesn't have to change his consumption of heated indoor space?

Carbon credits...when you're rich, guilty, and don't want to change your lifestyle...

Carbon credits - if you have to ask, you can't afford them.

I have a couple "carbon credits" I tried to sale on craigslist not too long ago.

No one in this 'green' city seemed the least bit interested.

What were you going to do with the money once you got it, Anthony?

And unlike the old indulgences, it's not a faith-based system. The whole point of carbon offset is that you pay money to a project that reduces carbon in the atmosphere to offset what you're producing.

Listen up, righties, this is EXACTLY the kind of solution you should be celebrating -- market-based and voluntary. The alternative is the heavy hand of government, via taxation and regulation.

We don't do "listen up, righties" here.

Carbon offsets. Smells strangely similar to a product once marketed by the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps thats why those who cooked up this particular scheme chose not to call them Carbon Indulgences.

If he's got money to burn, perhaps he should give some of it to the carbon-reducing causes AND fly commercial.

Hey Kari, Al Gore bought carbon credits from a company he formed and invested the money in stocks to benefit him. I got your carbon credits right here!

I'm glad Kari pointed out the obvious, because it keeps getting lost in the political haze. The idea of carbon offsets is something that certainly is making Milton Friedman smile. For those keeping score, here's the spectrum of behavior:

Bad -- Overconsumption with no regard for the impact it has on the environment.

Better -- Overconsumption, with the recognition that it's bad and the willingness to offset your own personal impact.

Best -- Sustainable consumption, with no need for an offset.

I guess the good news is that Al and RR are now in agreement with the liberals who have been asking people for years to downsize their American dream to something more sustainable. Thanks, guys, for your support!

"Carbon Indulgences"

Sounds like a really bad-tasting dietetic candy...

the willingness to offset your own personal impact.

Pretty elitist practice, isn't it? Those who can afford to "offset" can do all the harm they want? Much better not to do the harm in the first place. If Edwards really wants eco-cred, he should fly commercial two days a week.

Plus where exactly does "carbon offset" money go? To folks like PGE, to (supposedly) build one more windmill with?

I don't think Catholic indulgences are the best comparison. I think it's more like buying a surrogate for $300 to keep you from having to serve in the Union Army during the civil war.

I hear Dick Cheney is paying Don Rickles not to be so mean.

carbon offsets don't work in practice. never have. it doesn't matter if they're a good concept.

and of course, it does nothing to change behavior or standards--it gives the polluter a false sense of justification for what they do. going to Fiji on a 767? Great! buy carbon offsets and you can jet anywhere you want.

doomed, i tell ya. all. doomed.

What next, a rapist donating to NOW so they can claim to be rape neutral. Typical lib garbage. I just donated to Jack's employer so I can be Bog's Bog neutral.

I thought carbon credits had something to do with the number of trees in your back yard.

Unlike those living in the pearl district, my parents' modest quarter acre lot has 22 trees in the back, and 4 in the front. They would be more then happy to dedicate those trees to some greeny with a bottomless bank account.

I guess the good news is that Al and RR are now in agreement with the liberals who have been asking people for years to downsize their American dream to something more sustainable.

I have nothing against sustainability - it coincides nicely with being cheap. I do acknowledge that there is a threshold at which "sustainability" abuts practicality and that line is blurred by carbon credits and the like. Changing behavior and expectations is the goal and that will happen automatically if the market is left to function without too many well-meaning "enlightened" fixes from the all-knowing government types.

I guess the bad news is that some of those same liberals you mention are still asking people to downsize their American dream to something more sustainable while owning multiple homes and blithely burning all the JP4 they need to "get the message out".

Hypocrisy isn't "sustainable" for very long.

Jack, why don't you sell Bog offsets to posters in exchange for not banning them from you bog.

How many kilowatt hours of electricity did you purchase from PGE last month? How much natural gas did you burn? How many completely unnecessary trips do you make in your vehicle and is said vehicle relatively fuel efficient by current standards and necessary for such trips? Did you really need to use so much water and would making a conscious effort to waste less of that precious resource have an adverse effect on your life? How many pounds of waste do you suppose you contribute to the local landfill each week and could that number be greatly reduced with a little effort and minimal pain? These are the simple questions we all need to ask ourselves and if most of us did just that and took the appropriate course of action, our nation would soon be much better off ecologically as well as financially- unless you believe that the economic model of rabid consumption is at all sustainable. I don't need some emotionally unstable environmental activist type, government control freak or rich elitist hypocrite who will probably consume>pollute 200x more than I will in my entire lifetime to lecture me on the subject. I try to live it without scolding others (too much) for their own personal choices.

Whew, pardon me for ranting or overstating the obvious here. Wait, am I the one doing the preaching now? Oh well, I feel much better.

Edwards talks about two America's. I think they can both fit in his living room.

"Changing behavior and expectations is the goal and that will happen automatically if the market is left to function without too many well-meaning "enlightened" fixes from the all-knowing government types."

"The market" will somehow "automatically" save us from environmental disaster? What an extraordinary expression of religious faith.

What were you going to do with the money once you got it, Anthony?

Well, probably not buy a THIRD home, like Al Gore.

Are there any free range carbon credits available?

they can both fit in his living room.

Edwards came from dirt, and through smarts and hard work, made himself a gazillionaire. Unlike the coked-up frat boy who never worked a real job in his life, and inherited his father's job at the White House.

Pretty elitist practice, isn't it? Those who can afford to "offset" can do all the harm they want? Much better not to do the harm in the first place.

Absolutely it's elitist. So is philanthropy, but I'm glad some rich people do it.

It's obviously better to do no harm in the first place. But the benefit of carbon offsets is that prior to their existence, rich people simply consumed a lot. Now, a few rich people consume a lot and spend some money doing good things to make themselves feel better. Isn't that an improvement no matter how you look at it? (And RR, aren't carbon offsets exactly the type of "market" fix that you are advocating for?)

I just can't get on board with the purist attitude that if Gore and Edwards aren't living in 900 square foot homes built with sustainable bamboo and wearing hemp clothing, they can't talk publicly about the damage that humans are doing to the environment.

"I just can't get on board with the purist attitude that if Gore and Edwards aren't living in 900 square foot homes built with sustainable bamboo and wearing hemp clothing, they can't talk publicly about the damage that humans are doing to the environment."

Damn, there goes another hyperbole meter, blown to smithereens by Miles' comment.

Of course there's a huge difference between your Gilligan's Island imagery and the example set by Prophet Gore himself. Owning multiple sprawling homes, consuming massive amounts of energy and zooming about in private jets is cool when you're banging on the pulpit over responsible energy usage and emissions?

and where does breeding come in to your liberal equation? Wouldn't it be green not to have children? Think of all the fossil fuels saved. Less cars on the road less fuel for schools. I guess they do that in china

Oh wait the "undocumented immigrants" will fill those schools and those roads isn't that what our politicians want

Before you call me racist I will say that if I were a mexican with a family I would do whatever to get to this country and make a living for my family

I just find it ironic that the liberals who want to preserve so much of our "suppossed" wilderness and are so against urban sprawl are the same idiots that want everybody and their brother to move here.

Can somebody inform me of the inside joke, maybe I will change my vote in 2008

through smarts and hard work,...
In the south, Roofers work hard. Lawyers steal. Ask the DA in Durham.

"Edwards came from dirt, and through smarts and hard work, made himself a gazillionaire. Unlike the coked-up frat boy who never worked a real job in his life, and inherited his father's job at the White House."

So it is so noble to earn your gazillions through junk science lawsuits with smarmy closing arguments?

Nevertheless, Edwards is dead in the water. If he is going to try to run on an environmental platform while living in a 28,000 sf house, good luck. Contrast that with the house the "coked-up frat boy who never worked a real job in his life" built - this from "":

Only your dispassionate Canadian correspondent could write this without colour or favour, but is it possible that George Bush is a secret Green? Evidently his Crawford Winter White House has 25,000 gallons of rainwater storage, gray water collection from sinks and showers for irrigation, passive solar, geothermal heating and cooling. “By marketplace standards, the house is startlingly small,” says David Heymann, the architect of the 4,000-square-foot home. “Clients of similar ilk are building 16-to-20,000-square-foot houses.” Furthermore for thermal mass the walls are clad in "discards of a local stone called Leuders limestone, which is quarried in the area. The 12-to-18-inch-thick stone has a mix of colors on the top and bottom, with a cream- colored center that most people want. “They cut the top and bottom of it off because nobody really wants it,” Heymann says. “So we bought all this throwaway stone. It’s fabulous. It’s got great color and it is relatively inexpensive.” Hmm, back to that vote about the Greenest President?

So for you Edwards defenders who say someone of his stature can't engage in 'practice what you preach', it seems the coked up, environmental-hating shrub dimwit has proven otherwise.

As I posted on the same subject over at BlueOregon (before being supposedly banned -- I can't seem to comment there anymore), I should be able to burn as much carbon as I want.

I've planted trees all over my yard. I've donated time to stream restoration, habitat enhancement and ivy removal. I purchased a high-efficiency furnace, washing machine, water heater and installed energy efficient windows. I recycle, mulch and make my own compost.

Using the carbon credits theory, my footprint is minute enough that I should be able to drive the largest, most inefficient SUV ever made -- for the rest of my life.

Gore and Edward's carbon offset nonsense is absolute boloney.

Roofers work hard. Lawyers steal.

It was nice having you here.


i'm not voting for Edwards.

when Bush sells his three other houses, his 9 automobiles, his oil stock--oh, and stops making deals with oil companies and signing legislation that destroys the environment for generations to come all across the country and the world--i'll call him "green".

oh, and by the way: and are to environmentalism as Britney Spears is to music theory.

Heh! Don't ya just LOVE it? "Carbon offsets". Homer would be so proud! Because of course, it doesn't mean a thing. By today, we were supposed to be dying in a global ice age - and it was All Your Fault.

Fast-forward 30 years, and prominent atmospheric chemists like AlGore are telling you that the sea levels will rise by twenty to twenty-five feet above current levels. At your local zoo, prominent scientists that nobody's ever heard of gravely intone that the Polar Bears Are All Going To Drown, and that We're All Gonna Die, and it is - of course - All Your Fault.

This time, it's because you're a carbon dioxide "emitter". Never mind that humans are an insignificant source of planetary carbon dioxide, and never mind that carbon dioxide is itself an insignificant greenhouse gas. Most significant: water vapor. Further down the list: methane. Way far down on the list: carbon dioxide. In a world whose surface area is 70% water, where do you suppose all that darned water vapor comes from?

Oh darn.

But let's play the game: We'll buy those carbon "offsets" for $1000, Alex. What this means is that I can burn as much as I want, as long as I can pay for it.

Why not apply the same approach that AlGore uses in regard to carbon "offsets" to something a bit more mundane?

I'm going to go on a diet. I'll eat as much as I want, of anything I want, whenever I want. And I'll pay you a thousand bucks to starve to death. I'm just buying "caloric offsets", here. You see, my "caloric footprint" will be reduced to zero because I'm buying the calories you don't consume.

You're dead, but I'm fat and happy, and my "caloric footprint" is zero.

What a depressing spectacle. A couple of yards up on the scroll, someone has identified this page as a "bog". That couldn't be more apt. Many happy commenters, mired in ignorance, trashing a concept they know nothing about, and the people who use it. It would be hilarious if it were not for the fact that a couple of important subjects, like maybe our future government and our future, are centrally involved.

mired in ignorance, trashing a concept they know nothing about

That high horse of yours smells really bad tonight.

"they can both fit in his living room."

I'm not so hip on the Carbon Offset weirdness, but I dissagree that someone can't leave a big "footprint" and still preach environmentalism.

Hypocracy only invalidates the mans character, not the mans position. The Position is independant of what the man does or does not do.

Unfortuanately for Edwards, he's not a philosopher. He's a politician. And politicians ARE defined (especially in elections) on character. So, he's got to tackle the hypocracy charge.

Joe12Pack: Damn, there goes another hyperbole meter, blown to smithereens by Miles' comment.

Hy per bo le (-noun):

1. Obvious and intentional exaggeration.
2. An extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally.

I guess I'm glad you recognized the literary tool that I was using, although you seem to think I meant it literally.

In any case, I think I'll just point out that someone can both work to reduce their carbon imprint and also buy carbon offsets for the imprint that remains. Could Gore and Edwards do a better job consuming less? Yes. Is it a good thing for them to buy carbon offsets? Yes.

Carbon Offsets are so ripe for scams, just like many charitable organizations.

First, if the organization calls itself a "non-profit" who questions the expenses for the CarbonCo, like president, managers, staff wages, expenses? Who audits? Who tracks (maybe) the remaining 57% of the money you donate to the causes they say they promote? What percentage of the donate money for these causes go directly into improving the environment and not the pockets of the next subset of graft? Remember that Goodwill right here in Portland was paying over $1M in wages to the CEO to a so-called "non-profit".

Now apply the same possibility to a "for-profit" CarbonCo, and consider the potential for additional misuse of your donated funds. But you feel good, don't you?

Then consider Gore's giving to a CarbonCo like his own, then "investing" his money for whatever. How much does he pay himself and others to manage this CarbonCo? Do you think he might be owner/part owner of one of "projects" that saves the environment?

Watch for the scams to erupt. I hope the media investigates. Don't be gullible, just slightly moderate your lifestyles and you will be more productive in helping the environment.

I dunno, Hillary has been looking very green these days. Read into that what you will. Whatever your interpretation, make sure you get it focus-grouped.

Many happy commenters, mired in ignorance, trashing a concept they know nothing about, and the people who use it.

Do tell, Elightened One.

Gee, Jon, I was just trying to give those folks the benefit of the doubt. What do you think, that the distortions and mischaracterizations above are intentional?

Calling people ignorant is giving them the benefit of the doubt?

The market" will somehow "automatically" save us from environmental disaster? What an extraordinary expression of religious faith.

It's the height of irony that you, positing "environmental disaster" as dogma, accuse me of "religious faith" in free markets.

Much more hard science and experience back up our knowledge of economics than supports the cult-like purveyors of human-caused global doom to whose gospel, I assume, you subscribe. If you're looking for religious fervor, look no further than your buddies who march to Al "I leave no footprints) Gore's" drumbeat.

"Calling people ignorant is giving them the benefit of the doubt?"

How was it put? What's worse? That they knew, or that they didn't know (that they were distorting and mischaracterizing)?


"Much more hard science and experience back up our knowledge of economics than supports the cult-like purveyors of human-caused global doom..."

economics has never been a "hard science". ask any economist. any at all.

oh, and--what the other guy wrote wasn't irony. irony is using words to convey a meaning opposite of their literal meaning or context.

however, what you wrote was sarcasm, which is often confused with irony. irony has more subtlety and humor, which sarcasm--lacks.



I did not say that economics was a "hard science", I said that there was more hard science invested in its study. To miss the distinction is forgivable - it's a difficult one for some.

To clarify for you - "hard science" as distinct from "herd science".

Further, I said that the fact he was characterizing my statement as religious was ironic, not that what he wrote was ironic.

2 for 2 - or, more accurately, 0 for 2.

But, hey, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to give me a grammar lesson.

sarcasm AND irony there



"I said that there was more hard science invested in its study."

no, you said

"Much more hard science and experience back up our knowledge of economics"

and so on. you still got irony wrong, too.

looks like we're both 0 for 2?


If I had put quotes around a word or phrase then misquoted myself, you'd have a point.

I didn't.

You don't.

Irony, as you so graphically demonstrate, needn't be intentional - nor does digression.

Knock yourself out.


okey dokey.

my name's James--what's yours?


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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Keith Richards - Life
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Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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