Zero Sum Carbon Credit Tomfoolery

As you’ve no doubt heard, there is a practice called “carbon offset” which is employed by people who burn inordinate amounts of fossil fuels and do other environmentally ugly things during the course of their lives but who want to pretend they don’t.

Hollywood’s television and film industry, which is the 2nd largest polluter in the state of California but is laughably from where the most environmental finger-pointing originates, is being pressured to either reduce their emissions and/or buy carbon offsets. The program “24” is the most recent example of a show that will do both and aims to be a “carbon neutral” production. That would be simple—shut down production. This won’t happen, so what to do?

Being “carbon neutral” is now the designer jeans of wealthy liberal self-proclaimed environmentalists who don’t want to stop their energy gluttony but also don’t want to appear to be harmful to the environment. This is where “carbon credits” come into play.

The notion of carbon credits is borne of the “zero sum game” theory that is quite popular amongst the left, not to mention Chess players. It’s quite often a theory used to cast guilt and shame upon somebody who makes money—allegedly at the expense of others. Zero-sum game theory implies that, for every dollar you make, somebody had to lose a dollar. There hasn’t been a more bogus economic theory since Bill Clinton’s answer to a businessman’s concerns over high taxes was to “just raise your price.”

A quick way to explain zero-sum game is using a baseball metaphor.

Imagine that you’re playing baseball and the score is 4-4. Your team scores a run, so the other team loses a run, making the score 5-3. If you score another run, the score would be 6-2. The good news for the team with two is that by applying “zero-sum game,” even though they’re down by four, they’ll only have to score two runs to tie the game. Make sense? We find as we go through life that those who embrace the zero-sum game theory are usually the ones who are behind, in this case, trailing big-time in the game of environmental friendliness.

So let’s apply the above baseball metaphor to carbon credits. The person who burns tons of energy, or is “down by 4” as far as Mother Nature might see it, can tie, or “neutralize” the game via carbon credits for far less than it took them to get down that much in the first place.

If Al Gore didn’t have a heated pool, there would be that much less energy burned. Period. Al Gore produces nothing—the sum of zero, if you will. If all his famous energy consumption went toward producing, say, wheat, his offset would be the wheat that went toward feeding people. When his energy consumption goes toward ensuring his pool guests don’t get shrinkage when they dive in, the only way to offset this would be to turn off the heater and sentence swimmers to cringing in the cool water. Anything else is kidding himself and everybody else, which is what much of the “global warming” theory is based upon.

Finally, how come it seems that carbon credits never work the other way around? Can you write to Al Gore and tell him to turn off his air conditioning so you can mow your lawn today? No. Environmental zero-sum not only means that gains by one must be offset by losses to another — but it’s also a one-way street leading into a gated community.

The global warming movement as built by Al Gore believes that every gainer must have a loser, and what are the odds that Al Gore or Leo DiCaprio have any intention of being the latter?

Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: