|IF you own a cat, you know the smelly truth: they break wind and it's foul. Not only that, it harms the planet.|
All forms of flatulence - from cats, dogs, even from Dad - contain methane, a greenhouse gas thought to contribute to climate change.
If you've been feeling guilty about it, help is at hand. For just $8, a Sydney-based company, Easy Being Green, can now make your cat carbon-neutral, so it can "live guilt-free for a year".
Make no mistake, the cat will still smell, and its emissions will still contain methane, but Easy Being Green vows to spend the $8 you give them on products, such as energy-saving lightbulbs and water-saving shower heads, that reduce emissions elsewhere (if not in your own backyard).
The scheme can be applied to any product, animal or person. For $20, the company made Jenny Cracknell into a "carbon-neutral granny" last year. Her daughter, Emily, gave her a gift certificate to offset two years' worth of flatulence. "I don't like to brag, but I actually don't have much flatulence," Mrs Cracknell says. "But when I do, I feel OK about it, because the damage to the planet has been offset."
Carbon credits, carbon certificates and carbon offsets are serious currency, generating a worldwide income thought to exceed $300 million a year as Westerners panic, not about the spread of consumption across the globe, but about their carbon footprints - the impact of their lives on the planet.
Easy Being Green's chief executive (and main shareholder) Paul Gilding - formerly head of Greenpeace International - said the system of carbon trades made it possible for ordinary families to do something "about the pressing problem of our time".
Customers agree it makes them feel good. Take Sally Treeby and her husband, Stephen Dunne, of Balgowlah Heights in Sydney's northern beaches. They have a four-wheel drive, two children - George, 3, and Olivia, 1, both of whom wear disposable nappies - and take three interstate trips a year.
Easy Being Green used a complicated mathematical formula to value the family's "footprint" at $600 a year, so Mr Dunne bought $600 worth of carbon credits for his wife for herbirthday.
Ms Treeby said: "When the children ask us, what did you do when the planet was warming, we will at least have a decent answer for them. We don't say we are doing enough (although the family also has water tanks and compost). But I have to tell you, it was more gratifying than a new pair of shoes."
Yeah..even other enviro nuts are a bit dubious about it.
|Australian Conservation Foundation climate change campaigner Tony Mohr is sceptical, saying: "If people want to help the planet, the very first thing they should do is reduce their emissions. Second, they should buy renewable energy, be more energy efficient. Only after that should you think of offsets."|
Other carbon credit sellers realize people are wary of this but point out the other way of cutting emissions won't fly with nearly everyone.
|Other green companies use the money to plant forests, sometimes dubbed nature's "sinks" because they supposedly trap carbon. |
Carbon Planet, based in Adelaide, also offers individuals a way to "erase their carbon footprints" - by entering name, address and credit card number into their website. In return, you get a NSW Greenhouse Abatement Certificate "which guarantees that one tonne of carbon dioxide will be kept out of the air for 100 years".
Co-founder Ross Williams agrees that some believe it's a copout to buy carbon credits without changing your lifestyle.
"But look, either we go back in to the cave, or you eliminate in some other way, and that means sucking emissions out, by planting trees and so forth."
But planting trees are a waste of time designed to allow people to just keep living as they want without any real sacrifice.
|Planting trees to combat climate change is a waste of time, according to a study by ecologists who say that most forests do not have any overall effect on global temperature, while those furthest from the equator could actually be making global warming worse.|
"The idea that you can go out and plant a tree and help reverse global warming is an appealing, feel-good thing," said Ken Caldeira of the global ecology department at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Stanford, California, a co-author of the study. "To plant forests to mitigate climate change outside of the tropics is a waste of time."