“I guess hard times flush out the chumps.” – from O Brother Where Art ThouÂ
By Les MacPhersonÂ
If I was a con artist, I’d be moving right about now from the Nigerian letter scam, which is pretty much exhausted, and into the sale of phony carbon credits.
There is no better opportunity right now to fleece the gullible. You could take their money, give them worthless carbon certificates in return and leave them feeling good about it. So good, they’d keep coming back for more.
Unlike most other scams, this one could work indefinitely on the same suckers. Only by starting a new religion could the unscrupulous do as well.
It figures that both carbon credits and religion deal in guilt, fear and redemption. Indeed it was religion that established the pattern for carbon credits. The idea in both cases is to sell forgiveness to sinners.
In medieval Europe, corrupt clergy raised money through the sale of what they called indulgences. These were certificates of forgiveness sold to sinners as an alternative to eternal damnation. The beauty of it was that eternal damnation was promoted by the same people who sold the indulgences. It was the perfect racket until that pesky Martin Luther came along and spoiled everything.
Carbon credits work much the same way, only in this case, the religion is environmentalism. The sin is to live in a big house, say, or to drive a gas-guzzler or to fly around in a big jet airliner. These things require lots of fossil fuel, the burning of which generates carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming, the environmental equivalent of eternal damnation. Never mind that climatologists are now telling us to expect 20 or 30 years of global cooling. It’s like a doomsday sect that has to keep moving the date when the predicted apocalypse fails to materialize. The difference is that most of us laugh at doomsday sects.
The threat of global warming, a lot of people take very seriously, but they still want their hot tubs and their SUVs and their tropical vacations. Carbon credits offer them a way to maintain their self-indulgent lifestyles while remaining environmentally virtuous. Instead of reducing their own carbon emissions, they can pay someone else to do it.
Campaigning politicians, among others, are already signing on. The federal NDP and Liberals have bought carbon credits to offset emissions from their leaders’ campaign jets. Sufficient credits to offset NDP Leader Jack Layton’s campaign tour, for example, reportedly will cost the New Democrats about $60,000. It’s enough to make a grifter salivate.
Liberals can expect to pay even more. Their leader has leased for his campaign tour an older jet that emits 30 per cent more carbon than a more modern aircraft. This doesn’t look good for a party that’s campaigning to compel the rest of us to reduce our own carbon emissions. Through the miracle of carbon credits, their guilt is washed away.
Read the rest of this piece at the Star Phoenix (Canada).