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Greed and Its Offsets

Greed and Its Offsets

Farmland shouldn’t be used to expiate the carbon guilt of the rich, argues Simon Fairlie.

Bill Gates’s recently published book on climate change tells us little that anyone who is averagely well read on the subject didn’t know anyway.1 As one might expect, he advocates technological fixes, most of which have been on the drawing board for a decade or two. The book has few references and often fails to examine all sides of a contentious issue. On certain matters it is plain wrong: for example when Gates states that the methane which cattle “burp and fart out every year has the same warming effect as 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide”. If he had done his homework he would know that the equation between methane and CO2 doesn’t work like that.

In fact the book is not really about global warming at all, it is about Bill Gates. Penguin would never have published it, and Radio 4 would not have serialised it, if it hadn’t been by him. It is written throughout in the first person, and begins with this mea culpa:

“I’m aware that I’m an imperfect messenger on climate change. I own big houses and fly in private planes – in fact I took one to Paris for the climate conference – so who am I to lecture anyone on the environment?”

At first sight this is a confession to forestall criticism, the equivalent of an ordinary mortal coyly admitting that they fly to Spain once a year or eat more than their planetary share of chocolate. But on the next page he writes:

“In 2020 I started buying sustainable jet fuel [sic] and will fully offset my family’s emissions in 2021. For our non-aviation emissions, I’m buying offsets through a company that runs a facility that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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