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Canada Earth Science

The Problem With Carbon-Cutting Programs 219

Med-trump writes "Alberta's $60 million carbon-cutting program is failing, according to the latest report from the Canadian province's auditor-general, Merwan Saher. A news article in Nature adds: 'the province, despite earlier warnings, has not improved its regulatory structure — and calls the emissions estimates and the offsets themselves into question.'"
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The Problem With Carbon-Cutting Programs

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  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:07PM (#38184032) Homepage
    For those that don't bother to read TFA, the one-sentence summary is that "offsets", where rather than paying the tax companies pay for credits obtained for emission-cutting programs in agriculture or in developing countries, are often dubious because the "offsets" are not properly audited and often just pay for activities that would have occurred anyway without the subsidy This is relatively easy to fix. Just tighten up the rules on offsets. It doesn't damn emissions trading in general.
  • Re:Of course... (Score:-1, Informative)

    by MichaelKristopeit421 ( 2018882 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:11PM (#38184062)

    Well as long as the air remains breathable here, then I would sat that it is worth it.

    well as long as a stream doesn't exist that moves air around the world in the way that a jet would, i would sat you'll be fine.

    you're an idiot.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:21PM (#38184138)

    "Carbon offsets" are just more bullshit to funnel money from the poor to the bankers.

    But it's actually worse than that, because third-world governments are now evicting people from their land so they can plant trees to rake in some of that cash: []

    The Global Climate Warming Change scam spreads evil wherever it goes.

  • by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @05:31PM (#38184196)
    Here is what the article actually says about it:

    What are the problems with the credit methods?

    Lax verification for carbon-offset projects has been a problem for several schemes. For the credit-creating projects to be effective at reducing overall greenhouse-gas emissions, the scheme operators are supposed to approve only projects that would otherwise not have gone ahead. The auditor-general criticized the Alberta Department of Environment and Water for allowing carbon credits for emissions-reducing activities that have become common practice.

    The Alberta report found a lack of standards for how agricultural credits were verified — not one of the credits the auditors checked could be confirmed. It also pointed out that there was no standardized, accurate method for measuring the emissions from oil-sands tailing ponds, which store contaminated water, clay, sand and bitumen from oil-sands processing.

    Many opponents of emissions trading programmes also argue that companies are likely to purchase carbon offsets instead of reducing emissions by adopting new technologies or changing their operating practices.

  • Re:Alberta tar sands (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @06:33PM (#38184608)

    Dirtiest source??! I'd say they'd have to work really hard to be dirtier than deep sea drilling has been.

    Oil sands extraction produces massive quantities of contaminated (lead, arsenic, mercury, ammonia, naphthenic acids, and other fun things) water which is stored in tailings "ponds" (they're really more like lakes) which currently cover about 170 square kilometers.

  • Re:Alberta tar sands (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:01PM (#38184804) Homepage

    Bet you've never been to alberta in your life either, or visited one of those sites after they've finished the cleanup either. We don't use tailings ponds anymore.

  • Re:It's Alberta... (Score:5, Informative)

    by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:17PM (#38184896)

    You can do a fractional distillation on crude and separate it into it's various types, tar, diesel, octane, propane, etc. You can also take long chains and "crack" them (break the chains) and create more of whatever you want, as long as it has a smaller chain.

    Most refineries crack now and can get up to 50% octane from a barrel of oil. Without cracking it is less than 10%.

  • by mevets ( 322601 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:56PM (#38185130)

    Next time you are standing on a road, have a look down and contemplate what you are standing on, why it is there, how it got there, and who paid for it.

    Who paid for the crusades in Iraq? Who benefitted? Why? While we are at it, what is the cost of the middle east policy? Who benefits? Why?

    Without even jumping into climate destruction ( although, again, who will pay for it? Who benefitted? Why? ), there is the 'other' environmental disaster - air pollution. How much does it cost? Who pays for it? Why?

    Subsidy doesn't quite describe the situation; perhaps "hand out" or "graft" are closer to the mark.

  • Re:Alberta tar sands (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:28PM (#38185358)

    I live in Alberta and I can assure you that tailings ponds are still in use.

  • Re:Alberta tar sands (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rary ( 566291 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:55PM (#38185538)

    We don't use tailings ponds anymore.

    Bullshit. The Government of Alberta's own tar sands propaganda site [] backs up GPs claim of 170 square kilometers of tailings ponds— that's about two Manhattans. It goes on to state that "(e)fforts continue to develop new tailings performance criteria, management technologies and practical solutions to reduce and potentially eliminate tailings ponds as we know them today." Still, tailings ponds are expected to expand to about 250 square kilometers— almost three Manhattans— by 2020.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @12:08AM (#38186634)

    Next time you are standing on a road, have a look down and contemplate what you are standing on, why it is there, how it got there, and who paid for it.

    First thing that should have come to your mind is that the road works just as well for biofuel-burning or electric vehicles as it does for fossil fuel-burning vehicles, that is, it doesn't force a choice of fuel. So it is disingenuous to claim it is merely a subsidy for fossil fuels. Especially when you consider that a considerable tax on gasoline exists in the developed world.

    The "crusades" in Iraq? While a lot has been spent on them, most of the money hasn't had much to do with securing oil and more to do with padding government contractors who don't for the most part have much to do with oil or its infrastructure.

    And "climate destruction"? No climate has been "destroyed". Air pollution is much better in the developed world than it was in the 50s, all paid for by the people who burn fossil fuels.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @12:48AM (#38186820)

    This is why carbon offsets and caps don't work. Nobody is encouraged to stop polluting.

    I don't think you get the point. A carbon market is intended to cover the externality of carbon dioxide emissions. If it does so and the market participants don't change their behavior, then that is an acceptable outcome. Behavior modification is not an indication that the system isn't working, it's rather an indication that the uses of fossil fuels or whatever are important enough to pay the additional cost.

  • Re:It's Alberta... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @10:39AM (#38190316) Homepage
    To add to the parent there are several processes that will turn carbon based items into various hydrocarbons that have been used. The main ones I am aware of are:
    Fischer-Tropsch process []
    Thermal depolymerization []
    Staged reforming []
    Gas to liquids []
    Biomass to liquid []
    Coal liquefaction []

    If we really wanted to get serious about renewable fuels in the US we would quit wasting our time with corn to ethanol and setup some biomass to liquid hydrocarbon plants.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky